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'Cult' Controversies in America (HA)

In this course we examine a variety of new religious movements that tested the boundaries of acceptable religion at various moments in American history. We pay particular attention to government and media constructions of the religious mainstream and margin, to the politics of labels such as "cult" and "sect," to race, gender, and sexuality within new religions, and to the role of American law in constructing categories and shaping religious expressions. We also consider what draws people to new religions and examine the distinctive beliefs, practices, and social organizations of groups labeled by outsiders as "cults."

Instructors
Judith Weisenfeld
'Cult' Controversies in America (HA)

In this course we examine a variety of new religious movements that tested the boundaries of acceptable religion at various moments in American history. We pay particular attention to government and media constructions of the religious mainstream and margin, to the politics of labels such as "cult" and "sect," to race, gender, and sexuality within new religions, and to the role of American law in constructing categories and shaping religious expressions. We also consider what draws people to new religions and examine the distinctive beliefs, practices, and social organizations of groups labeled by outsiders as "cults."

Instructors
Judith Weisenfeld
A Survey of some theologies in the Middle Ages (EC)

A survey of themes central to theologies in the period from Augustine to the end of the Middle Ages, issues of theological method, genre, and linguistic medium; doctrines of God, the Trinity, Incarnation and grace; the place of the Bible and its interpretation in medieval theology. Throughout all of these, it will be necessary to bear in mind in general terms, and explore in each of these texts in some detail, a series of overarching, and governing, connections: between the theological and the 'mystical', contemplation and action, intellectual enquiry and holiness, knowledge and love.

Instructors
Denys A. Turner
Advanced Biblical Hebrew: Violence and the State in the Hebrew Bible (LA)

In this class, we will explore how the Hebrew Bible imagines the interactions of the state with military and other extreme violence. We will focus on three biblical books--Joshua, Kings, and Nahum--and look at how Israelite violence becomes a shifting signifier, enfolding aspects of ritualization, ethnic and gendered consolidation, and theological fantasizing about enemies' deserved downfalls. The highly marked nature of textualized violence will facilitate study of intermediate Biblical Hebrew linguistic topics, including nominal and verbal syntax in prose and poetry, pragmatics, and lexical and other semantics.

Instructors
Madadh Richey
American Scriptures (EC)

What is a scripture? How does a text become one? In this class we'll study several American scriptures, relatively recent texts that allow important perspective on these questions. We'll read parts of The Book of Mormon, Science and Health, The Circle Seven Koran, and Dianetics, along with several other new-world scriptures and American iterations of some old-world ones. Emphasis will be on thinking through how these texts know what they know, and how they make that claim of knowledge to readers. We'll investigate their discursive influences, internal logic, and rhetorical effects to think about how scriptures function in the world.

Instructors
Seth A. Perry
American Scriptures (EC)

What is a scripture? How does a text become one? In this class we'll study several American scriptures, relatively recent texts that allow important perspective on these questions. We'll read parts of The Book of Mormon, Science and Health, The Circle Seven Koran, and Dianetics, along with several other new-world scriptures and American iterations of some old-world ones. Emphasis will be on thinking through how these texts know what they know, and how they make that claim of knowledge to readers. We'll investigate their discursive influences, internal logic, and rhetorical effects to think about how scriptures function in the world.

Instructors
Seth A. Perry
An Introduction to Indian Philosophy and Religion (EC or EM)

This course introduces some of India's most important traditions, covering topics in metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics from a non-Western philosophical perspective. We will examine some of India's most significant contributions to debates on personal identity, free will, spiritual liberation, and the nature of truth itself. We will also explore the implications of religious doctrines for contemporary moral philosophy. For example, how might belief in inter-dependence shape attitudes towards the environment? And what explains the misogyny of some Indian philosophers given their commitment to non-violence and inclusivity?

Instructors
Katie Javanaud
Ancient Egyptian Manuscripts: Writing, Materiality, Technology (HA)

In this course the different types of manuscripts, languages and texts from Ancient Egypt will be discussed. Papyrus is a prominent material from Ancient Egypt and we will study several examples in Princeton Collections. We will also discuss the use of modern techniques in manuscript studies like databases, ink analysis, x-ray and computer tomography. An overview will be given of the different materials including those from Elephantine Island. At the end, the students will curate a small exhibition demonstrating the specialties of ancient Egyptian manuscripts.

Instructors
Verena Maria Franziska Lepper
Ancient Judaism from Alexander to the Rise of Islam (HA)

This course offers an introduction to the development of ancient Judaism during the eventful millennium from the establishment of the Torah as the constitution of the Jewish people in the fifth century BCE--an event that some have seen as marking the transition from biblical religion to Judaism--to the completion of the other great canonical Jewish document, the Babylonian Talmud, in perhaps the sixth century CE.

Instructors
Martha Himmelfarb
Ancient Judaism from Alexander to the Rise of Islam (HA)

This course offers an introduction to ancient Judaism during the fascinating and eventful long millennium that gave rise to both Judaism and Christianity as we know them today. It traces the development of competing visions of Judaism from the establishment of the Torah as a sort of constitution for the Jewish people in the fifth century BCE to the completion of the Babylonian Talmud, the work that more than any other shapes later Jewish culture, in perhaps the sixth century CE. Classes will center on the discussion of primary texts, and the development of the skills of close reading will be a major focus.

Instructors
Martha Himmelfarb
Ancient Judaism from Alexander to the Rise of Islam (HA)

This course offers an introduction to the development of ancient Judaism during the eventful millennium from the establishment of the Torah as the constitution of the Jewish people in the fifth century BCE--an event that some have seen as marking the transition from biblical religion to Judaism--to the completion of the other great canonical Jewish document, the Babylonian Talmud, in perhaps the sixth century CE.

Instructors
Martha Himmelfarb
Apocalypse: The End of the World and the Secrets of Heaven in Ancient Judaism and Christianity (HA)

This course studies the rich corpus of revelations composed by ancient Jews and Christians about the end of the world, the fate of souls after death, the secrets of the cosmos, and God's heavenly abode, placing them in their historical contexts and considering them in relation to the development of Judaism and Christianity from the Hebrew Bible through late antiquity. Among the works to be considered are Enoch (an anthology of ancient Jewish apocalypses about the antediluvian patriarch), Daniel (Hebrew Bible), Revelation (New Testament), and Ezra (Apocrypha).

Instructors
Martha Himmelfarb
Apocalypse: The End of the World and the Secrets of Heaven in Ancient Judaism and Christianity (HA)

This course studies the rich corpus of revelations composed by ancient Jews and Christians about the end of the world, the fate of souls after death, the secrets of the cosmos, and God's heavenly abode, placing them in their historical contexts and considering them in relation to the development of Judaism and Christianity from the Hebrew Bible through late antiquity. Among the works to be considered are Enoch (an anthology of ancient Jewish apocalypses about the antediluvian patriarch), Daniel (Hebrew Bible), Revelation (New Testament), and Ezra (Apocrypha).

Instructors
Martha Himmelfarb
Apocalypse: The End of the World and the Secrets of Heaven in Ancient Judaism and Christianity (HA)

This course studies the rich corpus of revelations about end of the world, the fate of souls after death, the secrets of the cosmos, and God's heavenly abode in ancient Judaism and Christianity by placing them in their historical contexts and considering them in relation the development of Judaism and Christianity from the Hebrew Bible through late antiquity. Among the works to be considered are 1 Enoch (an anthology of ancient Jewish apocalypses about the antediluvian patriarch), Daniel (Hebrew Bible), Revelation (New Testament), early Christian tours of hell and paradise, and the early Jewish mystical work 3 Enoch (Sefer Hekhalot).

Instructors
Martha Himmelfarb
Art and Judaism in the Ancient World (LA)

Jews have often been thought of as a "nation without art," who disparaged the visual and discouraged artistic creation. But the reality is very different: Judaism has a rich tradition of artistic production as well as a long history of reflection on the role that objects and images should play in religious life. Using both textual and artistic sources, this course explores the nature and function of art in ancient Judaism, from the Hebrew Bible to the end of late antiquity. A particular focus will be on Jewish attitudes toward and engagement with the visual and material cultures of the wider societies in which Jews lived.

Instructors
Ra'anan S. Boustan
Art, Culture, and Identity in Medieval Spain (LA)

Before the suppression of non-Christians in Spain and Portugal after 1492, three vibrant medieval cultures inhabited the peninsula: Muslims based in Al-Andalus, Christians based in the northern Spanish kingdoms, and Sephardic Jews throughout both realms. Their coexistence transformed their visual culture in ways that resonated well beyond Iberian borders, from Atlantic colonialism to modern identity politics. This course asks how the contacts, conflicts and compromises provoked by "living with" each other shaped artistic traditions and cultural identity in a land both enriched and destabilized by its own diversity.

Instructors
Pamela A. Patton
Atheism in America (HA)

Belief in the existence of God and non-belief are counterparts of one another and have a shared history in the United States. At the same time, those histories are distinct and have distinct features. This course is an historical exploration of non-belief in God in a country in which religion and religious faith has comprised its very core and shaped its character. What has it meant to be an "a-theist" in a country so dominated by various forms of theism? If America is, as G. K. Chesterton has said, "a nation with the soul of a church," where have been the spaces - intellectually, culturally, socially, aesthetically - for the "unchurched?"

Instructors
Wallace D. Best
Black Rage and Black Power (HA)

This course examines the various pieties of the Black Power Era. We chart the explicit and implicit utopian visions of the politics of the period that, at once, criticized established Black religious institutions and articulated alternative ways of imagining salvation. We also explore the attempt by Black theologians to translate the prophetic Black church tradition into the idiom of Black power. We aim to keep in view the significance of the Black Power era for understanding the changing role and place of Black religion in Black public life.

Instructors
Eddie S. Glaude
Black Women and Spiritual Narrative (LA)

This course will analyze the narrative accounts of African American women since the nineteenth century. Working from the hypothesis that religious metaphor and symbolism have figured prominently in Black women's writing (& writing about Black women) across literary genres, we will explore the various ways Black women have used their narratives not only to disclose the intimacies of their religious faith, but also to understand and to critique their social context. We will discuss the themes, institutions, and structures that have traditionally shaped Black women's experiences, as well as the theologies Black women have developed in response.

Instructors
Wallace D. Best
Black Women and Spiritual Narrative (LA)

This course will analyze the narrative accounts of African American women since the nineteenth century. Working from the hypothesis that religious metaphor and symbolism have figured prominently in black women's writing (& writing about black women) across literary genres, we will explore the various ways black women have used their narratives not only to disclose the intimacies of their religious faith, but also to understand and to critique their social context. We will discuss the themes, institutions, and structures that have traditionally shaped black women's experiences, as well as the theologies black women have developed in response.

Instructors
Wallace D. Best

Undergraduate

Fall 2022

Spring 2022

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