Theo 107 Introduction to Religious Studies
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
LOYOLA UNIVERSITY CHICAGO, JFRC
- 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)
- 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.
- The Bible (any translation, available for free online).
- The Qur’an (available for free online: quran.com)
- Documents of the Second Vatican Council (available for free online: http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/index.htm)
- The world of religions (available online:
- Ian S. Markham and Tinu Rupralle (ed.), Encountering Religion (Malden MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2001)
- Pope Benedict XVI, Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections, Regensburg Address 2006; online: http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2006/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060912_university-regensburg.html and the open letter to Pope Benedict XVI by 38 Leading Muslim Scholars; online: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=7910
- Pope Francis’ Address to the Joint session of the United States Capitol, Washington D.C., on Sept 24, 2015; available online: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2015/september/documents/papa-francesco_20150924_usa-us-congress.html
- The world of religions (available online:
- 3. Course Schedule
Week 1 M
Introduction and Syllabus; Basic terms: religion and religious studies
Week 2 M
The concept of “time” and “memory” in religions
(GL Ch 2)
Week 3 M
On-site visit of the Roman Synagogue
Week 4 M
Overview on the variety of religions
(GL Ch 11-12)
Week 5 M
Comparative studies of various religions (web research) and mid-term exam
Week 6 M
Week 7 M
Individual belief and collective religion
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)
Week 14 M
Review for final
Week 15 M
- 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.]
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 7. Skills (Critical Thinking Skills and Dispositions)
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.
- 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.