Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

Theo 107 Introduction to Religious Studies

Fall 2016

Fall 2016                    THEO 107

Introduction to Religious Studies


Instructor:  Fr. Rudolf Kutschera  

Office hour: Mondays 1-2 p.m. and by appointment

Office: JFRC 102         Phone: 06.355.88.370

E-mail: rkutschera@luc.edu 



Mondays 9:30-12:00


  1. 1.     Course Description

This course incorporates the study of scripture, belief and practices, and the historical and social context of religion. It looks at doctrine, ritual, scripture and current issues in Christianity, while reaching out to Judaism and other religions. Two on-site visits of this course will be reflected within this context.

We will examine the human dynamic to create meaning, structure, and value in life. Our definition of religion will necessarily be broad and the investigation will focus on both the personal and social aspects of the religions under question.

            +Knowledge Area Satisfied: Theological and Religious Studies Knowledge

            +Skills Developed: Critical Thinking Skills and Dispositions

            +Values Area: (Understanding Spirituality or Faith in Action in the World)


  1. 2.     Required  Reading

·        Arthur Hertzberg, Jews: The Essence and Character of a People (1998); will be delivered in the first lecture by the instructor

  • e-text: Gerhard Lohfink, No Irrelevant Jesus: On Jesus and the Church Today Kindle Edition: $ 19.84.

Other sources:


  1. 3.     Course Schedule


Week 1   M

Introduction and Syllabus; Basic terms: religion and religious studies

(Nostra aetate)

Week 2   M

 The concept of “time” and “memory” in religions

(GL Ch 2)
(AH Ch 3)

Week 3   M

On-site visit of the Roman Synagogue


Week 4   M

Overview on the variety of religions

Religious ministry

(GL Ch 11-12)

Week 5   M

Comparative studies of various religions (web research) and mid-term exam

Week 6   M

Mid-term break

Week 7  M

Individual belief and collective religion
(AH Ch 1)  
(GL p. 111-120)

Week 8  M

Relations between world religions in the past

(AH Ch 4)

Week 9  M

The Roman Pantheon and the question of polytheism vs. monotheism

(GL p. 249-261)

Week 10  M

Pope Benedict’s Regensburg Address 2006 on Faith and Reason

(cf. online version)

Week 11  M

The Magnificat and Mary in the Qur’an

(GL Ch 23)

(Surah 19 from the Qur’an)

Week 12  M

The quest for values and Pope Francis’ 2015 US Congress Speech

(GL Ch 22)

(cf. online version)  

Week 13  M

Faith and religion

(GL Ch 24)
(AH p. 247-254)

Week 14  M

Review for final

Week 15  M

Final exam




  1. 4.     Requirements for the course and evaluation

In accordance with the JFRC’s Academic Policies, it is expected that students will attend and participate actively in all class meetings. Active participation in the class excludes emailing, facebooking, and surfing at random on the internet. Absences require prior permission from the instructor or the JFRC direction, or medical certification. More than ONE unexcused absence must reduce your grade. Active participation in discussions depends on the completion of the weekly reading assignments. Late arrivals and early departures will also be noted. 

Class will consist of an introductory lecture and a presentation by a student and the subsequent discussion of the texts assigned for that day. Students must bring the textbook and (digital) copies of the assigned sources to each meeting in order to facilitate class discussion.

      Mid-term exam, plus quizzes                                                    33%

      The Final Examination                                                                33%

      Writing assignments* plus  presentations                          33%


[*Writing assignments (10 pages total, bibliography not counted) are to be submitted by hard copy on the due date.]



Grading  Scale:

A                 93-100                                                    C          71-74.5

A-                89-92                                                      C-         68-70.5

B+               86-89                                                       D+       63-67.5

B                 81-85                                                       D         60-62.5

B-                78-80                                                       D-        57-59.5

C+               75-77                                                       F          below 57

Determination of grades ultimately resides in the judgment of the instructor; however, if you ever feel that you have been graded inaccurately, please come to see me.


  1. 5.     Academic integrity

      Failure to comply with the standards and regulations of academic integrity will be reported and Loyola University Chicago’s policy will be enforced. Please see: http://www.luc.edu/academics/catalog/undergrad/reg_academicintegrity.shtml


  1. 6.     Knowledge Area Objectives

To analyze a wide range of issues that are currently discussed in religious as an avenue for better understanding religion in personal, social and global contexts. To understand and discuss theoretical approaches to religion as well as religious phenomena. In all, by studying various viewpoints on current issues in religion, students broaden their perspective on the most salient elements of religious traditions such as scripture, rituals and institutions.



  1. 7.     Skills (Critical Thinking Skills and Dispositions)

     Students will: 

      1. “Comprehend, paraphrase, summarize, and contextualize the meaning of varying forms of communication.” In class discussions, quizzes, and/or examinations, students will demonstrate the ability to comprehend, paraphrase, summarize, and/or contextualize a variety of religious texts, histories, and ideas, as well as scholarly arguments about those texts, histories and ideas.  

      2. Develop “strategies for seeking and synthesizing information to support an argument, make a decision, or resolve a problem.” In class discussions, quizzes, and/or examinations, students will be encouraged to articulate reasoned arguments about materials studied in the course or to comment on arguments to which they are exposed in the class. 

      3. Monitor students’ own “individual thinking or behavior” in relationship to Roman Catholicism “in order to question, confirm, validate, or correct” their presuppositions and prejudgments. Class discussions will require students to reflect on their own presuppositions and correct erroneous opinions by appealing to data and reasoned argumentation.


  1. 8.     Values Area (Understanding Spirituality or Faith in Action)

      1. Students who identify themselves as Roman Catholic or claim a Catholic heritage in some way will be enabled to “demonstrate knowledge of and . . .  to articulate the foundations of one's own. . .  beliefs or faith traditions.” Similarly, non-Catholic students will be enabled to “demonstrate knowledge of and . . . to articulate the foundations of . . . others' beliefs or faith traditions” (competency a). The required reading, class discussions, student writing, and examinations will promote such competency.

      2. In the Roman Catholic ethos, belief and worship are gradually but surely to shape one's way of life. Thus, a study of Christianity and other religions will enable students to “demonstrate how faith traditions or belief systems have been or can be related to intellectual and cultural life” (competency b).  Mainly class discussions and student writing will promote such competency.

      3. Since Christianity focuses upon fundamental issues of personal identity and meaning, the study of Christianity in this course will “develop an ability to reflect upon the applications of one's beliefs or faith traditions to decisions in one's personal, professional, and civic life" (competency c). Mainly class discussions and student writing will promote such competency.