Department of Classics

Steven J. Friesen


Other facultyPh.D., Harvard University

Professor of Religious Studies and Classics: Louise Farmer Boyer Chair in Biblical Studies
Steven J. Friesen

Contact

  • Phone: (512) 471-8629
  • Office: BUR 418
  • Office Hours: by appointment
  • Campus Mail Code: A3700

Interests


Religious Studies; Poverty and Inequality in Early Roman Empire; Apocalyptic Literature; Imperial Cults

Biography


Research Interests: Religious Studies, Poverty and inequality in the early Roman Empire, Apocalyptic literature, Imperial cults, Urban contexts of religion: Corinth and Ephesus

Fields: Christian origins, Greco-Roman religion, Study of religion

Additional Titles: Louise Farmer Boyer Chair in Biblical Studies; Fellow, Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins (ISAC)

 

 


Courses


ANT 324L • Creation & Evolution In Amer

30355 • Spring 2016
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM CBA 4.324
(also listed as R S 346)

Starting with the late 17th century inquiries of Nicholas Steno, debate and discussion on the question of evolution raged in biology until the neo-Darwinian synthesis of the 1930’s established evolution by mutation, genetic drift, and natural selection as the consensus paradigm of modern biology and the organizing principle around which the discipline is based. The universal adherence to evolutionary principles in biology stands in stark contrast to popular perceptions, where about half of the U.S. population reject the basic tenants of evolution, often on religious grounds.

In this course students learn the history of creationist and evolutionary thought and through this lens explore the different epistemological traditions used in religion, science, and the humanities. The aim of this course is to promote fundamental scientific and religious literacy, critical thinking and civil discourse in a class that is team-taught by a physical anthropologist and a specialist in Biblical literature. The course takes a broad look at how different religious traditions approach the question of origins, and how they interact with one another and with science. Course materials -- including written essays, video interviews and debates -- serve as the fulcrum for in-depth classroom discussions in which students must articulate their ideas about challenging topics in a compelling, comprehensive and compassionate manner.

Through critical reading, civil discourse, and concise writing, students explore the scientific basis of evolution; different definitions of science, religion and mythology; the debate on intelligent design; scientific and mythic cosmologies; the bases of epistemologies; the role of science and religion in morality and ethics; and contemporary politics surrounding science education.

 

Texts

Dixon, Thomas. 2008. Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.Wood, Bernard. 2005. Human Evolution: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.Dennett, Daniel C. and Alvin Plantinga. 2011. Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? New York, Oxford University Press.

 

Grading

1. Attendance 7%2. Participation 8%3. Journal 30%4. Midterm 25%5. Final Exam 30%

R S 386M • Greco-Roman Rel W Asia Minr

42955 • Spring 2016
Meets W 2:00PM-5:00PM BUR 554

This course examines religious buildings, objects, and practices in western Anatolia from the Hellenistic, Roman, and Late Antique periods.  The intellectual agenda has two foci: the interaction of religious, economic, and social institutions; and the intersection of archaeological and textual materials.  Seminar participants will develop special expertise in a particular site and write a research paper related to that site.  Background in archaeology is not required.  The seminar will involve travel to Turkey from May 26 to June 14, 2016.  Students who wish to take the seminar without participating in the travel must first receive approval of the instructor. Site visits will include Ephesos, Klaros, Priene, Miletos, Didyma, Smyrna, Pergamon, Sardis, Hierapolis, Laodikeia, Aphrodisias, Sagalassos, Pisidian Antioch, and Ankara.  Basic secondary literature will include: Peter Garnsey and Richard Saller, The Roman Empire: Economy, Society, and Culture (2nd ed.; Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2015); Jörg Rüpke, From Jupiter to Christ: On the History of Religion in the Roman Imperial Period (N.Y.: Oxford Univ. Press, 2014); Katherine Bain, Women’s Socioeconomic Status and Religious Leadership in Asia Minor in the first Two Centuries C.E. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014); and Robert Knapp, Invisible Romans (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 2011).

R S 375S • What Is Religion?

42860 • Fall 2015
Meets MW 3:00PM-4:30PM BUR 436B

(Topic 1)

Religion has been a powerful force throughout human history, but what kind of force is it? This course allows students to examine some of the most important answers to that question from the last 150 years of academic study. We will consider psychological, sociological, economic, phenomenological, and anthropological explanations of religion. Participants in the course will also choose examples of religious phenomena and see how well the theories apply to those examples. Course sessions will emphasize discussion and analysis.

 

Grading

  • 50% Research paper. Stages include: proposal, outline, bibliography, 1st draft, 2nd draft
  • 10% Peer review of first drafts
  • 10% Short analyses: applying theories to examples
  • 10% Reading summaries
  • 20% Attendance and participation

Texts

  • Daniel Pals, Eight Theories of Religion
  • Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion
  • Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life
  • Karl Marx, The Portable Karl Marx
  • Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
  • Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion
  • Reserve Readings

 

ANT 324L • Creation & Evolution In Amer

30634 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM JES A303A
(also listed as R S 346)

The aim of this course is to promote fundamental scientific and religious literacy, critical thinking, and civil discourse.  Students explore definitions of science, religion, and mythology; the scientific basis of evolution; the debate on intelligent design; scientific and mythic cosmologies; the bases of human knowledge; the role of science and religion in morality and ethics; and contemporary politics surrounding science education.  The class is team-taught by specialists in physical anthropology and in religious studies.  Course materials -- including written essays, video interviews and debates -- serve as the fulcrum for in-depth classroom discussions in which students must articulate their ideas about challenging topics in a compelling, comprehensive and compassionate manner.  Students are further expected to record and share their ideas in concise, high-quality essays.

C C 348 • Revelation And Apocalyptic Lit

32430 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM CMA 3.114
(also listed as R S 353)

This course surveys the origins of apocalyptic literature in Hellenistic Judaism and its later development among early Christians, dealing both with historical context and literary features. There is an emphasis on reading and discussion of several exemplary texts, including portions of Daniel, 1 Enoch, and the Revelation of John. The final section of the course deals with the significance of apocalypticism in American religion and culture.

 

Grading

40% Exams (midterm & final).

35% Research paper.

10% Misc. writing.

15% Participation.

 

Texts

Greg Carey, Ultimate Things: An Introduction to Jewish and Christian Apocalyptic Literature (Chalice, 2005).

Mitchell Reddish (ed.), Apocalyptic Literature: A Reader (Hendrickson, 1995).

David Barr, Tales of the End: A Narrative Commentary on the Book of Revelation (Polebridge, 1998).

R S 385L • Early Jewish/Christn Lit II

44334 • Fall 2014
Meets TH 2:00PM-5:00PM BUR 436A

The Early Jewish and Christian Literature Survey  (RS 385 K & L) is a graduate level, genre-based critical review over two semesters covering the period from the 3rd century bce to the 5th century ce.  Survey II (RS 385 L) deals with a range of narrative texts from this period, focusing primarily on novels, acts, gospels, martyrdoms, and histories.  The goals of the seminar include: to develop a historically contextualized understanding of important examples of these genres; to become acquainted with the related secondary literature; to develop fluency with theories about narrative; and to engage in analysis of the texts. 

C C 380 • Ephesian Religion And Economy

33742 • Spring 2014
Meets W 2:00PM-5:00PM BUR 436A
(also listed as R S 386C)

Ephesian Religion And Economy

Friesen, Steven J.

Taylor, Rabun M.

This seminar takes Ephesos as a setting in which to focus on the analysis of religion and economy.  The temporal parameters include the Hellenistic, Roman imperial, and Late Antique periods.  Theoretical readings deal with ancient religion, ancient economy, material culture, and materialist theories of religion.  Participants will analyze aspects of Ephesian architecture, urbanism, and material culture with an eye to their religious and economic implications.  Participants will also write an article-length paper.  The paper may examine one of the Ephesian monuments or one of the many ancient texts about religion and Ephesos.

C C 348 • Beyond The New Testament

33220 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM GEA 114
(also listed as R S 353)

There are three broad goals for this course: to increase familiarity with the content  of a range of early Christian texts not found in the Bible; to explore the historical and cultural contexts of the groups that composed these texts and passed them on; and to learn to use systematic methods of textual interpretation.  We will focus on texts such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, and the Gospel of Peter; the Acts of Paul, the Acts of Thecla, and the Acts of John; the Apocalypse of Peter, the Apocalypse of Paul, and the Secret Book of John.  Students will be expected to read the texts carefully and be prepared to discuss them in class.  The course will include consideration of the reasons these texts were not included in the Christian Bible.

 

 

Texts:

Bart D. Ehrman, Lost Scriptures: Books that did not make it into the New Testament (Oxford Univ. Press, 2005).  ISBN 978-0195182507.

Mark Allan Powell, What is Narrative Criticism? (Augsburg, 1991). 978-0800604738

Other readings TBA

 

 

Assignments:

40%     Exams (midterm & final).

35%     Research paper.

10%     Misc. writing.

15%     Participation.

 

 

 

GK 312L • Intermed Greek II: Biblical Gk

33390 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM BUR 436A
This course is taught at the second year (4th semester) level and is intended to introduce students to the characteristics of Hellenistic or Koine Greek as found in biblical literature. Like GR 312K it is also intended to review and strengthen grammatical principles while increasing both the speed and accuracy of reading ability.  Reading a selections of Biblical Greek authors or literature is a valuable way of doing this since it allows students to encounter several distinctive writing styles and syntactic tendencies.   Texts:

Nestle-Aland (eds.), Novum Testamentum Graece. If the 28th revised edition is published in time, we will use that:Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, ISBN: 978-3-438-05160-8 or 978-3-438-05156-1. The 27th rev. ed. will also be acceptable. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993. ISBN: 3438051036.  ISBN 3-438-05115-X has the same Greek text plus a handy dictionary in the back.

Bruce M. Metzger, Lexical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek.  3rd ed.  Baker: Grand Rapids, MI, 1998.  ISBN 978-0-8010-2180-0

Bauer, Danker, et al. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed., Univ. of Chicago, 2001. ISBN 0-226-03933-1 

Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. N.Y.: Oxford Univ. Press, 2004.  ISBN 0-19-516122-X

 

R S 385L • Early Jewish/Christn Lit II

43980 • Spring 2013
Meets W 2:00PM-5:00PM BUR 436A

Description

The Early Jewish and Christian Literature Survey  (RS 385 K & L) is a graduate level, genre-based critical review over two semesters covering the period from the 3rd century bce to the 5th century ce.  Survey II (RS 385 L) deals with a range of narrative texts from this period, focusing primarily on novels, acts, gospels, martyrdoms, and histories.  The goals of the seminar include: to develop a historically contextualized understanding of important examples of these genres; to become acquainted with the related secondary literature; to develop fluency with theories about narrative; and to engage in analysis of the texts. 

 

 

Texts:

Novum Testamentum Graece; Septuaginta; The Apocrypha.

James H. Charlesworth, ed. Old Testament Pseudepigrapha vol. 2.  Peabody, MA: Hendricksons, 2010.

The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 1, ed. Ehrman (LCL).

W. Schneemelcher and R. Mcl. Wilson, eds. New Testament Apocrypha, Vol. 1: Gospels and Related Writings. Rev. ed.; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2003.

Robert J. Miller, ed. The Complete Gospels. 4th ed.  Polebridge, 2010.

J. K. Elliott, ed. The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian LIterature in an English Translation based on M. R. James.  Oxford: Clarendon, 2005. 

 

Studies:

Frances Young, Lewis Ayers, & Andrew Louth.  The Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature. N.Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004.

Claudio Moreschini and Enrico Norelli.  Early Christian Greek and Latin Literature: A Literary History. 2 vols.  Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2005.

H. Porter Abbott. The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative. N.Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002.

Frederic Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act. N.Y.: Cornell Univ. Press, 1981.

Mieke Bal, Narratology 3rd ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009.

 

Assignments:

60%  Research papers (2 x 30%; maximum 3000 words each)

20%  Plot synopses

10%  Attendance

10%  Participation.

 

C C 304C • Intro To The New Testament

33035 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 8:00AM-9:30AM GAR 0.102
(also listed as R S 315N)

C C 304C Topics in the Ancient World:

An introductory survey of the highlights of Greek and Roman civilization and early Christianity. No knowledge of Greek or Latin is required.

R S 386C • Crit Issues In Christn Origins

43810 • Spring 2012
Meets W 2:00PM-5:00PM BUR 436A

Stories, ideas, and actions related to the end of the world flourish in many cultures.  This course examines their evolution in the Jewish and Christian traditions, from the crucial developments in the Hellenistic age to the diverse strands of revelatory activity in Late Antiquity.  Primary texts include those of the prophets of ancient Israel, sections of 1 Enoch, and Daniel; selections from the Dead Sea Scrolls, the New Testament, 4 Ezra, and 2 Baruch; and gnostic revelations and late Roman tours of heaven and hell.  The seminar also explores 4-5 methodological approaches for literary analysis, and 3-4 theories about the enduring appeal of apocalypticism and its literature.

 

Texts

Portier-Young, Anathea E. Apocalypse Against Empire: Theologies of Resistance in Early Judaism. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011.Charlesworth, James H., ed. Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments.  Vol. 1 of The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983.Reddish, Mitchell G., ed. Apocalyptic Literature: A Reader. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1995.Schmitz, Thomas A. Modern Literary Theory and Ancient Texts: An Introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007.And other selected books, chapters, and articles.

Grading

50%    Paper (2 drafts)10%    Peer reviews (2)30%    Class participation (attendance, discussion, leading, presentations)10%    Development of undergraduate sample course syllabus

C C 304C • Intro To The New Testament

32900 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WEL 2.246
(also listed as CTI 310, R S 315N)

Description:

This course focuses on some of the most influential religious texts in human history the 27 texts that were included in the New Testament. In addition, we will also read several other ancient texts that did not make it into the Christian Bible. During the semester we will explore the content of these texts, theories about how they were produced, methods used by scholars to interpret them, and conclusions that specialists reach about their significance. In the process, students will also have a chance to reflect on the general nature of human religiosity.

 

Grading:

25% Paper, approximately 700 words. 30% Exams, 2 @ approx. 15% each 25% Final exam 10% Attendance and participation 10% Misc. small tasks.

Texts:

1. The Harper Collins Study Bible, NRSV including apocryphal and deuterocanonical books, Student Edition; Harper Collins, 2006 (ISBN 978-0-06-078683-0). 2. Mitchell Reddish, An Introduction to the Gospels, Abingdon Press, 1997 (ISBN: 0687004489).3. E. P. Sanders, Paul: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford Univ. Press, 2001 (ISBN 0192854518).

C C 348 • Revelation And Apocalyptic Lit

33366 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM BEN 1.126
(also listed as R S 353)

This course surveys the origins of apocalyptic literature in Hellenistic Judaism and its later development among early Christians, dealing both with historical context and literary features. There is an emphasis on reading and discussion of several exemplary texts, including portions of Daniel, 1 Enoch, and the Revelation of John. The final section of the course deals with the significance of apocalypticism in American religion and culture.

Texts

Greg Carey, Ultimate Things: An Introduction to Jewish and Christian Apocalyptic Literature (Chalice, 2005).

Mitchell Reddish (ed.), Apocalyptic Literature: A Reader (Hendrickson, 1995).

David Barr, Tales of the End: A Narrative Commentary on the Book of Revelation (Polebridge, 1998).

Grading

40% Exams (midterm & final). 35% Research paper. 10% Misc. writing. 15% Participation.

R S 375S • What Is Religion?

44376 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BUR 436A

Religion has been a powerful phenomenon throughout human history, but what kind of phenomenon is it?  In this course we examine some of the classic answers to that question from the last 150 years of academic study.  We will consider psychological, sociological, economic, phenomenological, anthropological, and feminist theories of religion.  Participants in the course will also choose examples of religious phenomena and see how well the theories apply to those examples. The course will run as a seminar, and sessions will emphasize discussion and analysis. 

Required Texts:

Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion

Daniel Pals, Eight Theories of Religion

Max Weber, Sociology of Religion

Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life

Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion

C C 304C • Intro To The New Testament

32190 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WEL 2.246
(also listed as R S 315N)

This course focuses on some of the most influential religious texts in human history the 27 texts that were included in the New Testament. In addition, we will also read several other ancient texts that did not make it into the Christian Bible. During the semester we will explore the content of these texts, theories about how they were produced, methods used by scholars to interpret them, and conclusions that specialists reach about their significance. In the process, students will also have a chance to reflect on the general nature of human religiosity.

Texts:

1. HarperCollins Study Bible, Including Apocryphal Deuterocanonical Books (Student Edition) NRSV.  HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-0786630.
2. Bart Ehrman, A Brief Introduction to the New Testament.  Oxford Univ. Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0195369342.
3. iClicker (a classroom response device, not a book). ISBN 9780716779391.

Grading:

22% Paper, approximately 700 words. 60% Exams (2 @ approx. 18% each, 23% final exam). 12% Attendance and participation. 6% Misc. small assignments.

T C 302 • Evolutn/Creatn Debate In Amer

42775 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM MAI 220C

This course has a writing flag.

Description:

Starting with the late 17th century inquiries of Nicholas Steno, debate and discussion on the question of evolution raged in biology until the neo-Darwinian synthesis of the 1930’s established evolution by mutation, genetic drift, and natural selection as the consensus paradigm of modern biology and the organizing principle around which the discipline is based. The universal adherence to evolutionary principles in biology stands in stark contrast to popular perceptions, where only about half of the U.S. population accepts the basic tenants of evolution.

The goal of this course is to provide basic scientific and religious literacy in a single course that is team-taught by a physical anthropologist and a specialist in Biblical literature.  We will examine the interplay between scientific and popular thought through the lens of the contemporary debate on evolution and human origins in the U.S. The course takes a broad look at how different religious traditions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism  and indigenous religions approach the question of origins, and how they interact with one another and with science. Through critical reading, civil discourse, and concise writing students explore the scientific basis of evolution; different definitions of science, religion and mythology; the debate on intelligent design; scientific and mythic cosmologies; the bases of epistemologies; the role of science and religion in morality and ethics; and contemporary politics surrounding science education.

 

Texts/Readings:

Major Texts and Readings

Adler, M. J. & C. van Doren. 1972. How to Read a Book. New York: Touchstone.

Bagir, Z. A.  2005.  Science and Religion in  a Post-colonial World: Interfaith Perspectives. Adelaide: ATF.

Bowler, P. 2003. Evolution: The history of an idea. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press

Cunningham, M. K. 2007. God and Evolution: A Reader. New York: Routledge,

Dawkins, R. 2006. The God Delusion. New York: Bantam.

Doniger, W. 1999. The Implied Spider: Politics and Theology in Myth. New York: Columbia Univ. Press

Ferngren, G. 2002. Science and Religion: A historical perspective. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press

Iqbal, M. 2007. Science and Islam. New York: Greenwood Press.

Kurtz, P. 2003. Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? New York: Prometheus.

Lincoln, B.1989. Discourse and the Construction of Society: Comparative studies of myth, ritual and classification. New York: Oxford.

Wallace, B. 2003. Buddhism & Science: Breaking new ground. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

Additional Readings and Resources:

National Academies of Science. 2008. Teaching About Evolution. Washington DC: National Academies of Science.

Sarfati, J. 1999. Refuting Evolution. Brisbane, Australia: Answers in Genesis

Russel B. 1960. Religion and Science. New York: Oxford Univ. Press

Jones, J. E. 2005. Opinion in the case of Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District.

 

Requirements:

The course meets twice weekly for 1.5 academic hours each session and has a substantial writing component.

This course seeks to develop three important skills: 1) critical thinking and the ability to analyze written and spoken arguments, 2) the ability to share ideas through discourse rather than heated argument with the aim of reaching greater understanding for all participants rather than coercive persuasion to a particular point of view, 3) the ability to craft a laconic, well-reasoned essay.

In pursuit of these goals the coarse requires students to annotate assigned readings and to keep a written journal with short entries (ca. 150-200 words) of reading notes and discussion questions for each class session, along with a brief summary of the in-class discussion. Journals are graded and account for 40% of the total grade.

Each class discussion is led and moderated by one student with help from the instructors. In preparation to lead a class discussion students must prepare written summaries of the readings, along with a list of major and minor discussion questions. This critical reading assignment accounts for 10% of the student’s grade. 

Drawing on the critical reading assignment and the class discussion, the student is expected to write a well-crafted short essay (ca. 1000-1200 words) on the topic that was discussed. This essay may draw upon points raised during the class discussion but must be more than a mere summary of the discussion. The essay should reflect the student’s position on the topic and also provide evidence and reasoned argument in support of that position. The essay is due one week after the student moderates the class. Critique on the essay is provided by the instructors, a revised version of the essay is submitted and accounts for 25% of the student’s grade.

Students will apply their writing skills to a final exam covering major topics that arise in the course. The final exam will count for the remaining 25% of the students’ grades.

 

About the Professors:

Denné Reed is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology who studies the influences of ecology and environment on hominin adapations and behavior. Denné conducts field work on human origins in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Morocco.

Steve Friesen is the Louise Farmer Boyer Chair in Biblical Studies, Department of Religious Studies.  His area of research is Christian origins.  His special interests include apocalyptic literature, and economic inequality in the early Roman Empire.

C C 348 • Beyond The New Testament-W

32540 • Spring 2010
Meets MW 3:30PM-5:00PM RAS 310
(also listed as R S 353)

Cross-listed as CC348

GK 312L • Sec-Yr Gk II: Sel Biblical Gk

32720 • Spring 2010
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM CBA 4.326

see attachment

C C 304C • Intro To The New Testament

32630 • Fall 2009
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WEL 3.502
(also listed as R S 315N)

Goals of the Course

I hope this course will help you begin (or carry further) a lifelong interaction with the texts in the New Testament. They are among the fundamental religious texts of the world, and they are especially important in a western cultural context. There is no prerequisite for this course. By the end of the semester, the conscientious student will have read most of the New Testament as well as some other early Christian texts that were not included in the New Testament. We will survey the texts, the history of their production, the methods employed by scholars in understanding them, and conclusions that have been reached. In the process, I trust that you will also have a chance to reflect on the general nature of human religiosity.

Requirements

     1. Class attendance and participation is essential for you to gain the most from this course. Absences will hurt your grade.
     2. Reading. During the semester you will have the opportunity to read quite a few early church texts, including most of those in the New Testament. The modern readings about the ancient texts have been chosen to help you understand the ancient texts better. Knowledge of both ancient and modern texts will be assumed in the exams.
     3. Paper. There will be a few short writing assignments during classes. Outside of class, each student will write an analysis of a gospel text after going through the Daily Intelligencer. The purpose of the writing is for you to develop your critical thinking, and to engage in the process of interpretation. This is not a full research paper, but you will be expected to be familiar with issues discussed in class and in your reading.
     4. Exams. There will be two exams during the semester plus a final exam.

Required Texts

HarperCollins Study Bible, Including Apocryphal Deuterocanonical Books (Student Edition) NRSV.  HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-0786630.
Bart Ehrman, A Brief Introduction to the New Testament.  Oxford Univ. Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0195369342.
iClicker (a classroom response device, not a book). ISBN 9780716779391.

Optional Texts

Carol Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe, eds., Women’s Bible Commentary. Expanded edition; Westminster John Knox, 1998. ISBN 9780664257811.
James L. May, ed., HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. Revised edition; HarperCollins, 2000.  ISBN 978-0060655488.

Grading

1. Letter grades indicate the following evaluations.
     A: exceptional work, great!
     B: solid work, well done.
     C: some problems, needs more accuracy or greater depth.
     D: serious problems, but effort made.
     F: unacceptable university work.
2. Plus/minus grading. I use it.  It is possible to earn a maximum total of 490 points in the course.  See below for details on where points come from.
3. Attendance and Participation. Students will need an iClicker (available at the bookstore). We will use this in every class to record responses to questions and attendance.  You earn 1 pt for each session you attend, and during each session there will be an average of about 3 pts. for participation.
4. All work must be completed by the time of the final exam. No incompletes will be given except in extreme circumstances (e.g., serious illness, death in the family). No additional extra credit assignments will be given at the end of the semester.
5. Honesty is a great virtue. I report all cases of academic dishonesty to the dean of students office. Academic dishonesty on any graded assignment will result in no points for that assignment, and perhaps a failing grade for the whole class. Dishonesty includes any kind of cheating; if you are unsure about the exact definition you should consult the General Information Catalogue (scroll way down to 11-802).

Where do points come from?

     Students can earn a total of approximately 490 points in this course. The exact amount possible will depend on how many participation activities there are, and on how often attendance is taken. The point amounts for the other assignments are stable.
     Students who collect 90% or higher of the points possible will earn an A+/A/A- in the course (approx. 441 points or higher). Students who collect 80-90% will earn a B+/B/B- in the course. 70-80% = C range. And so on...
     Here are the assignments in the class and their point values.
 
Points   Assignments                             Percent of grade
 10        Syllabus quiz                                           2%
 20        Map assignments (2 @ 10 pts)                  4%
 80        Exam 1                                                  16%
 80        Exam 2                                                  16%
100       Exam final                                              21%
 15        DI internship assignment                           3%
 15        DI staff writer assignment                          3%
 70        DI gospel paper (= 650-750 word paper)   14%
100       Attendance & participation (approximate)   21%
490       Total possible                                        100%

Disability Services

Students with disabilities may request appropriate academic accommodations from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Services for Students with Disabilities, 471-6259.  Please let the professor know about any arrangements that will assist you in your learning.

Contact info for Teaching Team

Prof. Steve Friesen: Burdine 418, Friesen@mail.utexas.edu.  Wednesdays, 10-12, 2-3. 
Mr. Stephen Dove:  Burdine 416, Dove@mail.utexas.edu.  Tuesdays 3:30-5:30.
Ms. Shari Silzell: Burdine TBA, Silzell@att.net.Mondays, 12-2.

R S 373R • What Is Religion?-W

44675 • Fall 2009
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BUR 436A

Office hours: Wed. 10-12, 2-3, or by appt.

DESCRIPTION

Religion has been a powerful phenomenon throughout human history, but what kind of phenomenon is it?  In this course we examine some of the classic answers to that question from the last 150 years of academic study.  We will consider psychological, sociological, economic, phenomenological, anthropological, and feminist theories of religion.  Participants in the course will also choose examples of religious phenomena and see how well the theories apply to those examples. The course will run as a seminar, and sessions will emphasize discussion and analysis. 

REQUIRED TEXTS

Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion;
Daniel Pals, Eight Theories of Religion;
Max Weber, Sociology of Religion;
Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life;
Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion;
PDF readings posted in Blackboard.

GRADING

Component of course                                                   % of grade      Points
Major paper (one)                                                                  31%               120
      Topic proposal: working title & paragraph description                                  (10)
      Working bibliography (1-2 pages)                                                               (10)
      First draft (15 pages)                                                                                 (20)
      Final draft (20 pages)                                                                                 (80)
Exam over readings (one; there is no final exam)                      21%               80
Peer reviews of first drafts (two, 2 pages each)                         11%               40
Reading notes (ten, 100 words each)                                       11%               40
Quizzes (three)                                                                      8%                30
Attendance                                                                            7%                27
Participation                                                                          11%               43
TOTAL                                                                                100%           380
 
Attendance: You get one point for every class you attend from beginning to end.  If you’re late or you leave early, no point for you!
 
Participation: You will be graded on quantity and quality of contributions to discussions.  I will use the following numbers for a base participation grade, and then raise or lower it a couple points according to the quality or appropriateness of your contributions.
 
      Points  Description
            42  Contributed to every discussion.
            40  Contributed to nearly every discussion.
            38  Contributed often.
            34  Contributed sometimes.
            30  Hardly ever talked.
            20  Never talked but was awake.
              0  Slept through the semester.  Should probably check student for pulse.
 
Grade ranges.  I use plus/minus grading.  Here’s how I define the grade categories.
        A: Excellent!  Unusual understanding and performance, with exceptional nuance.
        B: Good.  Normal understanding and performance.  Solid work.
        C: Some problems. Okay but needs more accuracy or greater depth.   
        D: Major problems, but some effort and understanding.
        F: Not acceptable university work

 

SCHEDULE of topics and readings

Aug. 27 Introduction to the course: What is “What is Religion?”?
 
Sept. 1  The Smiths get us started: the word “religion.”  Reading Notes #1
   • Pals 3-15
   • Wilfred Cantwell Smith, “Religion in the West” pdf (p. 15-50).

Sept. 3 More Smiths: religion? religions? religious?
   • Jonathan Z. Smith, “Religion, Religions, Religious” pdf (269-282)

1. RELIGION AS PRIMITIVE SCIENCE

Sept. 8 Max Mu?ller (1823-1900): disease of language. Reading Notes #2
   • Pals 16-52. 
   • Mu?ller “Preface” pdf (69-79)

Sept. 10 James Frazer (1854-1941): Magic & the Golden Bough. Plus a contrasting perspective from W.E.B. DuBois (1868- 1963). 
   Quiz #1

   • Frazer: 5 pdf’s
   • DuBois, “Souls of Black Folks” pdf (3-4, 7-15, 134-146)

2. REDUCTIONISM: RELIGION AS A SMOKESCREEN FOR SOMETHING ELSE

Sept. 15 Sigmund Freud (1856-1939): religion is an illusion of wish-fulfillment.  Reading Notes #3
   • Pals 53-81.
   • Future of an Illusion 1-25.

Sept. 17 Freud as a psychological explanation
   • Future of an Illusion 26-71
 
Sept. 22 E?mile Durkheim (1858-1917): religion is an expression of social forces.  Reading Notes #4
   • Pals 85-107.
   • Elementary Forms 1-46, 76-108, 147-152.

Sept. 24 Durkheim as a sociological explanation of religion
   • Pals 107-114.
   • Elementary Forms 153-174, 310-322.
 
Sept. 29 Karl Marx (1818-1883): religion comes from economic exploitation.  Reading Notes #5
   • Pals 118-132.
   • Marx pdf (143-153)

Oct. 1 Marx, Engels, and Lenin 
   Quiz #2
   • Pals 132-148.
   • Marx & friends pdf (155-163, 167-170)

3. SUI GENERIS: RELIGION AS AN INDEPENDENT PHENOMENON

Oct. 6 Max Weber (1864-1920): ideas/action, types of leaders.  Reading Notes #6.
   • Pals 149-181.
   • Sociology of Religion 1-79.

Oct. 8 More Weber: asceticism, mysticism, and salvation.
   • Pals 181-188.
   • Sociology of Religion 151-183.
 
Oct. 13 Mircea Eliade (1907-1986): sacred/profane.  Reading Notes # 7
   • Pals 193-226.
   • The Sacred and the Profane 8-113.

Oct. 15 Eliade, phenomenology, and history. Topic proposal due by noon tomorrow.
   • The Sacred and the Profane 116-159 & 201-213; skim 162-201.
 
Oct. 20 Clifford Geertz (1926-2006): worldview/ethos/social action.  Reading Notes #8
   • Pals 260-289.
   • Geertz “Cultural System” pdf (87-125)

Oct. 22 Geertz, interpretation, and meaning.
   Quiz #3
   Working bibliography due by noon tomorrow.
   • Geertz “Sacred Symbols” pdf (126-141)

4. HOWEVER, WHAT ABOUT...

Oct. 27 Tired of the male conversation yet?  Feminist theory and religion.  Reading Notes #9
   • Juschka pdf (1-22)
   • C. W. Bynum on Weber pdf (53-78)

Oct. 29 More on gender and religion.
   • R. R. Warne, “(En)gendering Religious Studies” pdf (147-156)
   • Carol Christ, “Eliade” pdf (571-590)

Nov. 3 Charles H. Long (1923- ): the silence of oppressed peoples.  Reading Notes #10
   • Long, “Intro” (1-9) and “Silence” (54-62) pdfs.

Nov. 5 Digesting it all; exam prep.
   • Long “Primitive/Civilized” pdf (79-94).
   • Kendall, “Korean Shamans” pdf (245-251)
   • Pals 304-320

5. ENDGAMES

Nov. 10 Exam over readings 
Nov. 12 Discussion of student papers 
 
Nov. 17 Discussion of student papers 
Nov. 19 Discussion of student papers 
 
Thanksgiving week: no class on Tues. or Thurs.
 
Dec. 1 Discussion of student papers 
Dec. 3 Wrap up: what was “What is Religion?”? 
 
Dec. 8 Paper final draft due at noon

Reading Notes.  Notes must be 100-150 words per assignment (use word count function) and will be turned in online before class.  The first half should be a summary of the reading, and the second half should contain your reactions and observations.  When you summarize the reading, deal with main ideas and arguments.
 
Quizzes & Exam.  There will be three short quizzes in class.  The purpose of the quizzes is to help you review and consolidate your knowledge of the readings.  There will also be a written, in-class exam on April 16.  Questions on the exam will be require paragraph answers, and one essay.
 
Paper, first draft.  First draft of paper will be about 15 pages long: normal 12-pt font, normal margins, double-spaced.  It must be distributed by email before class time on the week before the discussion of the paper in class.  The whole class will read the paper before we meet, and two students will do peer reviews of the papers.
 
Peer reviews of first drafts.  Every student will produce a written peer review for two other students.  The review should be 1-2 pages.  Email one copy of the review to the writer and another copy to the professor.  The reviewers will help us discuss the papers by summarizing their reviews in class.
 
Paper final draft.  The final draft should be 20 pages long.  It should incorporate suggestions from peer reviewers, from class discussion, from the professor, and from further work on the topic.  Hand the paper in online (Assignments button in Blackboard).
 
Special needs.  The University of Texas at Austin provides, upon request, appropriate academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259 or 471-4641, or the information available online (http://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/ssd).
 
Honesty—the best policy.  Scholastic dishonesty on any graded assignment will result in no points for that assignment, and perhaps even a failing grade for the course.  Scholastic dishonesty includes any kind of cheating; if you are unsure about the exact definition, you should consult the General Information Catalogue -- http://www.utexas.edu/student/registrar/catalogs/gi06-07/app/appc11.html#Subchapter11-802 then scroll way down to 11-802.

 

C C 304C • Intro To The New Testament

32775 • Fall 2008
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WCH 1.120
(also listed as R S 315N)

C C 304C Topics in the Ancient World:

An introductory survey of the highlights of Greek and Roman civilization and early Christianity. No knowledge of Greek or Latin is required.

C C 348 • Revelation & Apocalyptic Lit-W

32835 • Fall 2008
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 10

C C 348 Topics in Ancient Civilization:

The development and progress of ancient civilization, including history, philosophy, literature, and culture. No knowledge of Greek or Latin is required.

 

C C 304C • Intro To The New Testament

33095 • Fall 2007
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM BEL 328

C C 304C Topics in the Ancient World:

An introductory survey of the highlights of Greek and Roman civilization and early Christianity. No knowledge of Greek or Latin is required.

C C 383 • Corinthian Religion & Culture

32080 • Spring 2007
Meets M 2:00PM-5:00PM WAG 10

C C 383 Studies in Classical Civilization:

Studies in various aspects of Greek and Roman literature, history, and culture.

C C 304C • Intro To The New Testament

32625 • Fall 2006
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM BEL 328

C C 304C Topics in the Ancient World:

An introductory survey of the highlights of Greek and Roman civilization and early Christianity. No knowledge of Greek or Latin is required.

Publications


Books

  • Co-edited with Daniel Showalter.  Urban Religion and Roman Corinth:  Interdisciplinary Approaches.  Cambridge, Mass.:  Harvard Theological Studies; distributed by Harvard Univ. Press, 2005.
  • Imperial Cults and the Apocalypse of John:  Reading Revelation in the Ruins.  NY:  Oxford University Press, 2001. 
  • Editor.  Ancestors in Post-Contact Religion:  Roots, Ruptures, and Modernity's Memory.  Religions of the World series; Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School; distributed by Harvard Univ. Press, 2001.
  • Twice Neokoros:  Ephesus, Asia, and the Cult of the Flavian Imperial Family.  Religions in the Graeco-Roman World 116; Leiden:  Brill, 1993.
  • Editor.  Local Knowledge, Ancient Wisdom:  Challenges in Contemporary Spirituality.  Honolulu:  East-West Center, 1991.

Articles

  • “The Economy of Paul’s Gospel:  The Jerusalem Collection as an Alternative to Patronage.”  In Paul Unbound: Other Perspectives on Paul, edited by Mark D. Givens.  Peabody, Mass.:  Hendrickson, 2009.
  • “Injustice or God’s Will?  Early Christian Explanations of Poverty.”  In Wealth and Poverty in Early Church and Society, edited by Susan R. Holman.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Academic Press, 2008.
  • “The Blessings of Hegemony: Poverty, Paul’s Assemblies, and the Class Interests of the Professoriate.”  In The Bible in the Public Square:  Reading the Signs of the Times, edited by Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, Jonathan A. Draper, and Ellen Bradshaw Aitken.  Minneapolis:  Fortress Press, 2008.
  • "Satan’s Throne, Imperial Cults, and the Social Settings of Revelation.”  Invited by Journal for the Study of the New Testament 27, 2007.
  • "Sarcasm in Revelation 2-3:  Churches, Christians, True Jews, and Satanic Synagogues."  In The Reality of Apocalypse:  Rhetoric and Politics in the Book of Revelation, edited by David Barr.  Atlanta:  Scholars Press, 2006.
  • "Injustice or God’s Will?  Explanations of Poverty in Four Proto-Christian Texts."  In The First Century, edited by Richard Horsley.  Vol. 1 of A People's History of Christianity.  Minneapolis:  Fortress Press, 2005.
  • "Prospects for a Demography of the Pauline Mission:  Corinth among the Churches."  In Urban Religion and Roman Corinth:  Interdisciplinary Approaches (see above). 2005.
  • “Myth and Symbolic Resistance in Revelation 13.”  Journal of Biblical Literature 123, 2004.
  • "Poverty in Pauline Studies: Beyond the So-called New Consensus."  Journal for the Study of the New Testament 26, 2004.
  • “Ephesos B:  The Upper City.”  In The Cities of Paul:  Images and Interpretations from the Harvard New Testament and Archaeology Project.  CD-ROM, edited by Helmut Koester.  Minneapolis:  Augsburg Fortress, 2004.
  • “Religion and Politics in Early Christianity.”  In Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide, edited by Sarah Iles Johnston.  Cambridge, Mass.:  Harvard University Press, 2004.
  • “The Hawaiian Lei on a Voyage Through Modernities:  A Study in Post-Contact Religion.”  In Beyond ‘Primitivism’:  Indigenous Religious Traditions and Modernity, edited by Jacob Olupona.  N.Y.:  Routledge, 2004.
  • “The Beast from the Earth:  Revelation 13:11-18 and Social Setting.”  In Readings in the Book of Revelation:  A Resource for Students, edited by David Barr.  Atlanta:  Scholars Press, 2003.
  • "High Priestesses of Asia and Emancipatory Interpretation."  In Walk in the Ways of Wisdom:  Essays in Honor of Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, edited by Shelly Matthews, Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, and Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre.  N.Y.:  Trinity Press International, 2003.
  • “Introduction:  Modern Ancestors.”  In Ancestors in Post-Contact Religion:  Roots, Ruptures, and Modernity's Memory (see above). 2001.
  • “Asiarchs.”  Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 126, 1999.
  • “Ephesian Women and Men in Public Religious Office in the Roman Period.”  In 100 Jahre Österreichische Forschungen in Ephesos.  Akten des Symposions Wien 1995, edited by Herwig Friesinger and Friedrich Krinzinger.  Vienna:  Austrian Archaeological Institute, 1999.
  • “Highpriests of Asia and Asiarchs:  Farewell to the Identification Theory.”  In Steine und Wege:  Festschrift für Dieter Knibbe zum 65. Geburtstag, edited by Peter Scherrer.  Vienna:  Austrian Archaeological Institute, 1999.
  • “The Origins of Lei Day:  Festivity and the Construction of Ethnicity in the Territory of Hawaii.”  History and Anthropology 10, 1996.
  • “Revelation, Realia, and Religion:  Archaeology in the Interpretation of the Apocalypse.”  Harvard Theological Review 88, 1995.
  • “The Cult of the Roman Emperors in Ephesos:  Temple Wardens, City Titles, and the Interpretation of the Revelation of John.”  In Ephesos, Metropolis of Asia: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Religion and Culture, edited by Helmut Koester.  Valley Forge, Penn.:  Trinity, 1995.
  • “Ephesos A:  City Center and Curetes St.”  In Archaeological Resources for New Testament Studies (ARNTS) 2, Valley Forge, Penn.: Trinity Press.  1995. With assistance of Christine Thomas.
  • “Abaddon,” “Gabriel,” and “Jehovah.”  In Oxford Companion to the Bible.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1993.
  • “Olympia.”  In ARNTS 1, Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987.
  • “Corinth A: Architectural Monuments of the Roman City.” In ARNTS 1, Philadephia: Fortress Press, 1987.  With assistance of Allan Janek, et al.

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