Introduction to Religion
Professor Robert Doran 209 Chapin Hall
Office Hours: Thursday, 1-2 p.m. and by appointment firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Susan Niditch 114 Chapin Hall
Office Hours: Thurs. 11:30-12:30 and by appointment email@example.com
Books to Buy at the Jeffery Amherst College Store:
Bainton, Roland Christian Attitudes Toward War and Peace
Niditch, Susan Ancient Israelite Religion (AIR)
Niditch, Susan War in the Hebrew Bible
Burgess, Glyn, trans. The Song of Roland
Smart, Ninian Worldviews
NRSV Harper-Collins Study Bible
The Course Reader is available in the Religion Department Office.
Sept. 2: Introduction: Essential Questions, Specific Traditions
Sept. 4, 9: Ninian Smart, Worldviews, Intro and Chs. 1, 3-8.
Sept. 4: In-class discussion based upon material handed out in class and your notes. Prepare well.
Sept. 11, 16, 18, 23, 25
Classical Judaism and Catholicism:
symbols, sample texts, historical review, attention to multiplicity
Sept. 11, 16: The Biblical Period
Overview and the Experiential Dimension: Theophany
Exodus 3; Exodus 19; Isaiah 6; Ezek 3-5; 1 Kgs 19:1-12; Daniel 7
Niditch, AIR, 1-49 (Use reserve copies until books arrive in bookstore).
Mythic Dimension: Creation, Kingship, and Temple
S. Niditch, Chaos to Cosmos, pp. 1-43 (reserve).
Gen 1-3; Ps 89:9-11; Exodus 15; 24:9-11; 25:1-26:36; 1 Kgs 5-8.
Isa 51:9-11; Ezek 38-48.
1 Sam 8; 1 Sam 12; Deut 17:14-20; Psalms 2; Ps 61:4-7; 78:65-72; Zech 6:9-14
Ezek 34:25-31; 36:22-36.
Isa 11:1-9 (compare 1 Samuel 8; 12; Deut 17:14-20).
Isa 2:1-4 (Micah 4:1-4).
Doctrinal and Ethical Dimensions: Covenant
E.L. Greenstein, “Biblical Law,” pp. 83-103 in Back to the Sources, ed. Barry Holtz (reserve).
Niditch, AIR, 70-98.
Gen 9:1-17; Genesis 15, 17; Exodus 20; Joshua 24; Exodus 21-23; 2 Sam 7; Leviticus 11, 18; Deut 10:12-13:18; Deut 7:1-11; Isaiah 1; Am 2:6-16; 4:1-3.
Ritual Dimension: Differing Models
Niditch, AIR, 99-118.
Exodus 12; Leviticus 16; Genesis 22; Num 21:2-3.
Sept. 18: Introduction to Rabbinic Judaism: sample texts, key terms, and concepts. For class familiarize yourself with the excerpt from Neusner, Way of Torah, and sample texts (course reader).
Sept. 23, 25: Roman Catholicism
Who Is Jesus?
Mark 1:1-11; Matthew 1-2; John 1:1-18, 6:1-6; Philippians 2:6-11; 1 Corinthians 15:1–28; Creed of Councils of Nicea and Chalcedon (course reader).
Church and State
Ambrose, Letters 41, 51 (course reader).
Augustine, City of God (course reader).
Dante, Inferno (course reader).
Baptism and Eucharist
Romans 6:1-14; Mk 14:12-25; 1 Cor 11.
Sept. 30: No Class, Rosh Hashanah
Oct. 6: Screening of “Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero,” Frontline PBS special, Fayerweather 113, 4:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 2, 7:
War: Some Classic Approaches to War and Making Connections to the Traditions
S. Freud, “Why War?” pp. 71-80 in Bramson and Goethals, War (course reader).
E.F.M. Durbin and John Bowlby, “Personal Aggressiveness and War,” pp. 81-104 in Bramson and Goethals, War (course reader).
B. Malinowski, “An Anthropological Analysis of War,” pp. 245-268 in Bramson and Goethals, War (course reader).
Robert F. Park, “The Social Function of War,” pp. 229-244 in Bramson and Goethals, War (course reader).
Andrew Vayda, “Primitive War,” pp. 275-282 in Bramson and Goethals, War (course reader).
A discussion of “Faith and Doubt.”
Oct. 9: No Class, Yom Kippur
Oct. 11-14: Mid-Semester Break
Oct. 16: Just and Unjust Wars: Causes and Conduct
Oct. 16: A 2-3 page essay that reviews some of the articles from Bramson and Goethals (course reader) and begins to speculate on the connections between theories of war and aspects of religion. Details to be provided in class.
Oct. 16, 21:
Case Studies from Ancient Judaism. The “Ban” and Wars of Expedience. Just War in Hebrew Bible and Rabbinic Responses.
S. Niditch, War in the Hebrew Bible, pp. 3-89; 123-133 and read all the biblical texts discussed in these pages.
Deuteronomy 20; Midrash Rabbah (Deuteronomy).
A set of texts from Sifre Devarim (course reader).
A modern response by Gendler in Contemporary Jewish Ethics, ed. M.M. Kellner (course reader).
Oct. 23, 28: Just and Unjust Wars in Christian Tradition
R. Bainton, Christian Attitudes Toward War and Peace, 53-151(course reader).
Augustine Letter 93 (course reader).
Excerpt from Aquinas (course reader).
R. Bainton, Christian Attitudes Toward War and Peace, 173-229 (course reader).
The Challenge of Peace (available on the Religion 11 course website).
Streaming of “Religion, War, and Violence: The Ethics of war and Peace.”
Produced in 2003, this set of programs drawn from a PBS series on “Religion and Ethics,” deals with key themes of our course, including just war in theory and practice, the causes and implications of the “ethics of violence,” and the pacificist tradition. Notice, in particular, the way in which the programs are responding and reacting to the Iraq War in various early phases of that conflict; questions about justification and conduct arise. It is fascinating in hindsight to see how prophetic were some of the commentators about the violence to follow, whereas others thought the war was drawing to a close. Keep this material in mind for the remainder of the semester, especially as you approach your own research topic.
Oct. 30: The Bardic Traditions of War/Just War in Hebrew Bible?
S. Niditch, War in the Hebrew Bible, pp. 90-105 and the biblical passages discussed in these pages.
Nov. 4, 6: Two related guest lectures on issues in just war.
David Little, “The Role of the Academic in Times of War” (online course reading).
Nov. 4: A guest lecture by Professor David Little, Harvard University
Nov. 6: A guest lecture by Professor John Reeder, Harvard University, “Terrorism, Secularism, and The Deaths of Innocents.”
Nov. 10: A paper due on just and unjust wars. Topic to be announced.
Nov. 11: For class read “The Song of Roland.”
A guest lecture by Professor Paul Rockwell.
Nov. 12: Screening of Jean Renoir's “Grand Illusion,” Fayerweather 113, 4:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Streaming also available.
Nov. 13: A discussion of “Grand Illusion.”
Nov. 18: A paper due on the bardic traditions, topic to be announced.
Nov. 18, 20: Pacifism
S. Niditch, War in the Hebrew Bible, pp. 134-149 and passages discussed in these pages.
Modern responses by Gendler and Lamm in Contemporary Jewish Ethics, ed. M.M. Kellner (course reader).
Nov. 22-30: Thanksgiving Break
Dec. 2, 4: Case Study: The Berrigans
Bainton, Christian Attitudes, 66-84; 152-172.
The Catonsville Nine, a play by Daniel Berrigan (course reader).
Paul Ramsey, “Is Vietnam a Just War?” (course reader).
Dec. 4-9: Summary and Presentations
Dec. 9: Final essay due: Application of theories and ideologies of war offered by the religious traditions explored this semester to a contemporary situation involving, e.g., Afghanistan and Pakistan, India and Kashmir, Israel and the Palestinian territories, the larger Middle East, Darfur. Preparation for this assignment to be explained in class.