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UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA 2008-2009 undergraduate bulletin
undergraduate bulletin index

updated 8/15/2008

Religious Studies

Steven W. Lynn, Chair

James S. Cutsinger, Ph.D., Harvard University, 1980, Undergraduate Director
Stephanie Y. Mitchem, Ph.D., Northwestern University, 1998

Associate Professors
Carl D. Evans, Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1974
Kevin Lewis, Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1980
, Graduate Director

Assistant Professor
Waleed El-Ansary, Ph.D., George Washington University, 2006
Katja Vehlow, Ph.D., New York University, 2006

Distinguished Professors Emeriti
Lauren E. Brubaker Jr., Th.D., Union Theological Seminary, 1944
Harold W. French, Ph.D., McMaster University, 1972
Donald L. Jones, Ph.D., Duke University, 1966


The Department of Religious Studies offers a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in religious studies for students seeking a broad liberal arts education focused on the study of religion. Students explore the histories, teachings, practices, and cultures of more than one religious tradition and develop specific areas of interest among the subfields of the discipline.

Degree Requirements

(120 hours)

1. General Education Requirements (53-62 hours)

RELG 110 fulfills some of the general education requirements and must be taken for a major in religious studies. For an outline of general education requirements, see "College of Arts and Sciences."

2. Major Requirements

General Major (24 hours)
Courses numbered 300 level or higher. At least two courses must be taken from each of Groups A and B and at least one course from Group C.
Intensive Major (30 hours)
Courses numbered 300 level or higher. At least two courses must be taken from each of the three groups below (A, B, and C). RELG 498 must be taken as one of the required courses in Group C.
B.A. with Distinction
Students who fulfill the requirements for an intensive major and graduate with a minimum GPA of 3.75 in major courses and 3.50 overall will be awarded their degree "With Distinction in Religious Studies" upon graduation.
Group A
RELG 301, 302, 311, 312, 313, 321, 332, 341, 371, 372, 373, 381, 382, 510, 514, 572, 573
Group B
RELG 336, 342, 352, 354, 356, 357, 358, 359, 367, 369
Group C
RELG 330, 340, 360, 361, 370, 498, 532
Note: SCCC courses taught by religious studies faculty will fulfill Group C requirements unless otherwise determined by the course instructor and the department chair.

3. Cognate or Minor, see "College of Arts and Sciences" (12-18 hours)

4. Electives, see "College of Arts and Sciences"

Course Descriptions (RELG)

  • 110 -- Introduction to Religious Studies. (3) An introduction to the methods of religious inquiry and to the beliefs and practices of major religious traditions.
  • 111 -- Biblical History and Literature. (3) A brief introduction to contemporary study of the Bible, its historical background, writing, and transmission, its principal persons, events, and ideas, and their significance for the present time.
  • 115 -- Religion in America. (3) Communities, persons, themes and events which have helped to shape the religious climate in America; with emphasis on Christian communities.
  • 202 -- Introduction to Reason and Faith. (3) Historical and systematic introduction to theology; the search for balance between belief and reason; contemporary developments.
  • 203 -- Comparative Religion. (3) The religious experience of varied persons and groups, East and West, in traditional and contemporary settings.
  • 301 -- Old Testament. (3) A critical study of the literature of the Old Testament emphasizing its historical development and meaning in the life of ancient Israel.
  • 302 -- New Testament. (3) A historical and critical study of the origin, structure, and transmission of the New Testament writings and their meaning in the life and thought of the early Church; emphasis is placed on the life, teaching, and significance of Jesus and Paul--both for their day and for ours.
  • 311 -- The Mission and Message of Jesus. (3) An analysis of the historical and social setting of the Gospels designed to afford the student a fuller understanding of Jesus and his mission.
  • 312 -- The Life and Letters of Paul. (3) A critical study in the life and thought of Paul, his letters to the early Christian churches, his role in the expansion of the Christian movement, and his continuing influence today.
  • 313 -- The Johannine Literature. (3) The Gospel of John, the Johannine letters, and the Revelation of John are considered against both the background of first-century history and their theological relevance in our time; emphasis on major Johannine themes and, in the case of Revelation, the apocalyptic movement in general.
  • 314 -- Religion and Culture. (3) The impact of religion on modern Western culture and, in turn, of culture on religion. Selected topics: Holocaust, Puritanism, fundamentalism, Islam, Freud, "love" wisdom tradition, "civil religion."
  • 321 -- Old Testament Prophets. (3) Old Testament prophets, the nature of their prophetic experience, their place in the life of ancient Israel, their message, and their continuing theological significance.
  • 330 -- Faith, Doubt, and God. (3) Judeo-Christian views of God; modern criticism and contemporary responses.
  • 332 -- Christian Theology. (3) Basic Christian teachings concerning God, creation, sin, the person and work of Christ, and life after death.
  • 335 -- Christian Ethics. (3) Basic Christian teachings concerning human nature and conduct; historical foundations and contemporary applications.
  • 336 -- Liberation Theology. (3) An examination of the origin, development, context, and central themes of recent Third World, African-American, and feminist theologies.
  • 340 -- God and the Gods. (3) The worship of Yahweh and other deities in ancient Israel with special attention to the evolution of monotheism.
  • 341 -- Israel's Wisdom Literature. (3) A critical study of Job, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Ecclesiasticus, and the Wisdom of Solomon; particular attention will be given to the place of wisdom in Israelite and Jewish life and culture, the literary forms of wisdom, the theological presuppositions of the various wisdom traditions, and the impact of Israel's wisdom on contemporary life.
  • 342 -- The African-American Religious Experience. {=AFRO 342} (3) Introduction to the study of the religious traditions of African Americans; special emphasis on the sociopolitical contexts in which these religious traditions have developed.
  • 351 -- Religions of South Asia. (3) Examination of major South Asian religions--Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Islam, emphasizing the historical context for changing religious ideals, and the commingling of traditions.
  • 352 -- Religions of East Asia. (3) Expansion of Buddhism beyond India, development of Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, and other national religious expressions in China and Japan.
  • 354 -- Islamic Institutions and Traditions. {=HIST 386} (3) The institutions--political, religious, social, and economic--developed by the Muslim community and the traditions which surrounded them. Emphasis on the role of these institutions and traditions in the classical era and the changes they have undergone in modern times.
  • 355 -- Introduction to Hinduism. (3) An interdisciplinary examination of the complexity of the Hindu religious and philosophical traditions covering such topics as deity, self, cosmos, body ritual, karma, and yoga.
  • 356 -- Introduction to Buddhism. (3) An introduction to Buddhism from a social historical perspective that examines Buddhist religious goals and practices in the local contexts of India, Sri Lanka, Tibet, China, and Japan.
  • 357 -- Introduction to Islam. (3) Interpretation of primary materials reflecting many dimensions of the Islamic religious tradition, such as the Qur'an, Hadith, legal, and theological and mystical writings, art, rituals, and contemporary Muslim voices.
  • 358 -- The Qur'an and Hadith. (3) Intensive study of the Qur'an and Hadith: its major themes and literary quality, with attention to a range of classical and contemporary discourses about the Qur'an, both Islamic and Western.
  • 359 -- Islamic Theology and Philosophical Thought. (3) Close reading and discussion of primary texts (the Qur'an, Hadith, creeds, classical theological arguments, and modern writings) on major theological problems such as salvation, God, revelation, and religious pluralism.
  • 360 -- Anthropology of Magic and Religion. {=ANTH 352} (3) A comparative examination of such topics as ritual, cosmology, revitalization movements, magic, witchcraft, myth, and possession.
  • 361 -- Psychology of Religion. {=PSYC 320} (3) The development of the religious consciousness and its various expressions, the psychological dynamics of growth and conversion, response to crisis, and the relation of spiritual practice to health and wholeness.
  • 367 -- Sufism. (3) A survey of Islamic mysticism, its foundation in the Quranic revelation doctrines and practices, subsequent development, significance within Islamic civilization, and role in the contemporary world, both Islamic and non-Islamic.
  • 369 -- Islamic Law. (3) Close reading and discussion of primary texts (scriptural, classical, and modern) and accounts of court cases, focuses on one aspect of Islamic law such as equity, violence, authority, or gender.
  • 370 -- Spiritual Autobiography. (3) Autobiographical texts and contexts, ancient to modern, in which the constructed life" is shaped decisively by confrontation with religious questions. "
  • 371 -- Visions of Apocalypse. (3) An exploration of the prophetic vision of last things.
  • 372 -- Religion and Existentialism. (3) Existentialist thought as adapted by theologians to interpret religious experience and the biblical message. The movement from philosophical protest against essentialism into imaginative description of existence revealed under stress.
  • 373 -- Holocaust and Religion. (3) Religious and moral dimensions of Nazi terror (1933-45) and death camp experiences reported by eyewitness survivors and represented by subsequent filmmakers, poets, and fiction writers.
  • 374 -- Religion in the South. (3) Regional faith traditions in Southern historical-cultural context; evangelical piety, denominational tradition, African-American church, Lost Cause idealism.
  • 381 -- History of Judaism: The Ages of the Bible and the Talmud. {=HIST 383} (3) The Jewish people, 1800 B.C.-A.D. 500, and the religious, cultural, and political factors involved as they created and lost a nation and developed a religion.
  • 382 -- History of Judaism: The Middle and Modern Periods. {=HIST 384} (3) The religious and secular history of the Jewish people since A.D. 500, including an examination of theological Judaism, modern Israel, and American Judaism.
  • 399 -- Independent Study. (3-6) Contract approved by instructor, advisor, and department chair is required for undergraduate students.
  • 491 -- Selected Topics in Religious Studies. (3) Course content varies and will be announced in the schedule of courses by suffix and title.
  • 498 -- Advanced Project. (3) A supervised research project or other creative work, required of intensive majors, to be completed in the senior year.
  • 510 -- World of the Hebrew Bible. (3) An examination of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) in the context of the history, literature, and religion of the ancient Near Eastern world.
  • 514 -- The Quest of the Historical Jesus. (3) Examination of studies on the historical Jesus from 1778 to the present. Attention given to the relationship between "the Jesus of history" and "the Christ of faith."
  • 521 -- Readings in Religion. (3) A program of reading and consultation will be arranged to provide for independent research and concentrated study in an area of particular interest to the student.
  • 532 -- Dialogue of Reason and Faith. (3) Criticism and defense of religious belief in historical perspective.
  • 551 -- Tradition and Transformations in Islamic Cultures. {=ANTH 515} (3) Islam as a dynamic cultural tradition: emphasis on the tension between Islamization and the larger Islamic tradition.
  • 552 -- Buddhist Studies Seminar. (3) The examination of a theme or problem central to the study of Buddhism in a seminar emphasizing intensive reading and creative discussion. Course may be repeated since topics change.
  • 572 -- Religious Classics. (3) Selected "classic" works of the Western religious tradition.
  • 592 -- Topics in Texts and Traditions. (3) Reading and research on selected topics in the study of religious texts in the life of religious communities. Course content varies and will be announced by suffix and title. May be repeated twice as topics vary.
  • 593 -- Topics in Theology and Religious Thought. (3) Reading and research on selected topics in the study of doctrines, cosmologies, spiritual practices, and ethics of religious traditions. Course content varies and will be announced by suffix and title. May be repeated twice as topics vary.
  • 594 -- Topics in Religion and Society. (3) Reading and research based on selected topics in the study of religious institutions, practices, and experiences in relation to societies. Course content varies and will be announced by suffix and title. May be repeated twice as topics vary.

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