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Bachelor of Arts - Religion

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  • Objectives
    Because religions have significantly influenced, and been influenced by, the political, artistic, intellectual, social, and economic life of cultures throughout history, the academic study of religion is an interdisciplinary pursuit. Students taking an Honours or Major program in Religion are encouraged to take courses in other, related fields, and conversely, students in other disciplines are welcomed in Religion courses in order to round out their understanding of their areas of concentration. Persons may study religion to prepare for their chosen vocation or for graduate study. While this may be in anticipation of some form of ministry or teaching, it is not uncommon for students planning on entering other professions — social work, law, theatre, music, business, etc.—to study religion in order to enhance their vocational and personal life.
  • Academic Title
    Bachelor of Arts - Religion
  • Course description
    Honours: Students usually take the Religion Honours program if they plan to pursue graduate work. For an Honours degree, 60 credits in Religion, with an average of at least 70% as calculated from the best 60 credits in the program (including cognates), is required. Students have the option of writing an Honours thesis in their final year.

    Major: 48 credits in Religion.
    Minor: 24 credits in Religion.

    Honours and Majors are also required to fulfill the following minimum distribution requirements (36 credits; see the course lists for course descriptions):

    Biblical Studies:     12 credits consisting of: 112a, 118a, 214b, 215b, 218a, 219b
    World Religions:     12 credits, including: Rel100a and Rel101b, plus 6 credits from: 124a, 125b, 126a, 127b
    Approaches, Perspectives and Expressions:     12 credits, including: 232a and 233b
    OR
    330a and 331b

    Religion Concentrations in Liberal Arts

    Liberal Arts students can choose any of three Religion Concentrations. In addition to meeting the requirements for the Liberal Arts Major, the specific requirements for a Religion Concentration within Liberal Arts are a total of 36 credits in Religion, of which a minimum of 24 credits must consist of courses selected from the appropriate list below.
    Concentration: The Judaic and Christian Traditions
    (select minimum of 8 courses)
    100      Introduction to Religion I
    101      Introduction to Religion II
    112      Introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
    118      From Creation to Covenant: The First Five Books of the Bible
    126      World Religions V: Judaism
    214      Israelite Mythology and Cultic Practice
    215      History and Legend in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
    218      Early Christian Literature I
    219      Early Christian Literature II
    232      Philosophy of Religion I
    233      Philosophy of Religion II
    256      History of Christianity
    257      History of Christianity II
    252      Christian Thought I
    253      Christian Thought II
    Concentration: World Religions
    (select minimum of 8 courses)
    100      Introduction to Religion I
    101      Introduction to Religion II
    112      Introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
    118      From Creation to Covenant: The First Five Books of the Bible
    122      World Religions I: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
    124      World Religions III: Hinduism
    125      World Religions IV: Buddhism
    126      World Religions V: Judaism
    127      World Religions VI: Islam
    239      The Origins of Religion and Spiritualism in Ancient Times
    256      History of Christianity
    257      History of Christianity II
    Concentration: Religion and Culture
    (select minimum of 8 courses)
    100      Introduction to Religion I
    101      Introduction to Religion II
    112      Introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
    124      World Religions III: Hinduism
    125      World Religions IV: Buddhism
    126      World Religions V: Judaism
    127      World Religions VI: Islam
    146      Women in Religion
    148      Psychology of Religion
    149      Sociology of Religion
    200      Religion and Politics
    214      Israelite Mythology and Cultic Practice
    215      History and Legend in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
    236      Death and Dying in the Ancient World
    237      Religion and Film
    TBA      Religion and Sex

    RELIGION COURSES


    Biblical Studies
    112a      Introduction to the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament
    114a      Biblical Hebrew I
    115b      Biblical Hebrew II
    118a      From Creation to Covenant: First Five Books of the Bible
    214b      Israelite Mythology and Cultic Practice
    215b      History and Legend in the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament
    218a      Early Christian Literature I
    219b      Early Christian Literature II
    311b      Advanced Study in Biblical Texts
    328a      Christian Origins I
    329b      Christian Origins II
    World Religions
    100a      Introduction to Religion I
    101b      Introduction to Religion II
    122a      World Religions I: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
    123b      World Religions II: Christianity
    124a      World Religions III: Hinduism
    125b      World Religions IV: Buddhism
    126a      World Religions V: Judaism
    127b      World Religions VI: Islam
    Approaches, Perspectives and Expressions
    107a            Introduction to Biblical Archaeology
    109a            Egypt and Mesopotamia: From the Rise of Civilization to the Persian Conquest
    116/117      Archaeology in the Holy Land (Summer course in Jordan)
    146a            Women in Religion
    148a            Psychology of Religion
    149b            Sociology of Religion
    232a            Philosophy of Religion
    233b            Philosophy of Religion II
    236a            Death and Dying in the Ancient World
    237a            Religion and Film
    252a            Christian Thought I
    253b            Christian Thought II
    256a            History of Christianity
    257b            History of Christianity II
    330a            Issues and Problems in Religion I
    331b            Issues and Problems in Religion II
    Independent Studies
    300a      Independent Studies I
    301b      Independent Studies II
    402f       Honours Thesis

    BIBLICAL STUDIES

    Religion 112a     Introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament     3-3-0
    An introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and to its modern study. The course will acquaint students with the books, characters, themes, narratives, and history of the Hebrew Bible.
    Professor Miller

    Religion 114a     Biblical Hebrew I     3-3-0
    Introduction to biblical Hebrew grammar, and reading of simple texts.
    Professor Miller

    Religion 115b     Biblical Hebrew II     3-3-0
    More advanced biblical Hebrew grammatical concepts, and study of more involved texts.
    Professor Miller

    Religion 118a     From Creation to Covenant: The First Five Books of the Bible     3-3-0
    An introduction to the first five books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) and to their modern study. The course will acquaint students with the characters, themes, and narratives of these foundational books, known collectively as the Torah/Pentateuch.
    Professor Miller

    Religion 214b     Israelite Mythology and Cultic Practice     3-3-0
    An examination of mythology and cultic practices within Israelite society, as reflected in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Extra-biblical texts and archaeological evidence will be used to contextualize the biblical material. Topics include: Creation, the origin of evil, monotheism and polytheism, goddess worship, magic, and human sacrifice.
    Professor Miller

    Religion 215b     History and Legend in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament     3-3-0
    An examination of historical accounts concerning the Israelites in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, with a view to assessing their historicity (i.e., historical authenticity). Extra-Biblical texts and archaeological evidence will be used to contextualize the biblical material and to evaluate its claims. Topics include: the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), Joseph in Egypt, the Exodus, the Israelite settlement in Canaan, David and Goliath, and the United Monarchy under David and Solomon.
    Professor Miller

    Religion 218a     Early Christian Literature I     3-3-0
    A seminar which introduces early gospels (both canonical and non-canonical), examined within the historical context of the Graeco-Roman world during the first and second centuries CE. Distinctive features and characteristics of each text will be examined in order to gain insight into their historical, social and political environments.
    Professor Murray

    Religion 219b     Early Christian Literature II     3-3-0
    A seminar which examines the life and teachings of Paul as reflected in the early Christian literature likely written by him, in his name and about him. Through investigation of the distinctive characteristics of the texts, insight will be gained into Paul’s views on justification, faith, the Jewish law, the Jewish people, the role of women in the early church, and upon his impact on the emergence of Christianity in the Roman Empire.
    Professor Murray

    Religion 311b     Advanced Study in Biblical Texts     3-3-0
    Close study of selected biblical texts with special reference to context and reinterpretation.
    A seminar course

    Religion 328a     Christian Origins I     3-3-0
    This seminar course surveys the diverse portraits of Jesus of Nazareth reflected in early Christian literature, in the modern scholarly quest for the historical Jesus, and in film. The social and cultural forces that forged the earliest images of Jesus will be examined. Prerequisite: REL218a OR 219b or permission of the instructor.
    Professor Murray

    Religion 329b     Christian Origins II     3-3-0
    A seminar which explores a variety of Christian and Jewish texts in order to understand the complex relationship between Judaism and Christianity, within the broader historical context of the Roman Expire.
    Prerequisite: REL218a OR 219b or permission of the instructor.
    Professor Murray

    WORLD RELIGIONS

    Religion 100a     Introduction to Religion I     3-3-0
    An introduction to the academic study of religion, focusing on Western religious traditions (Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam). In addition to addressing the historical evolution, religious practices, writings, fundamental concepts, beliefs and cultural expressions of each of these traditions, the course will also consider methodological issues pertaining to the study of religion as an academic discipline.
    Professor Miller

    Religion 101b     Introduction to Religion II     3-3-0
    An introduction to the academic study of religion, focusing on Eastern religious traditions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Shinto). In addition to addressing the historical evolution, religious practices, writings, fundamental concepts, beliefs and cultural expressions of each of theses traditions, the course will also consider methodological issues pertaining to the study of religion as an academic discipline.
    Professor Miller

    Religion 122a     World Religions I: Ancient Mediterranean Religions     3-3-0
    An introduction to Mediterranean religions from the time of Alexander the Great (356- 323 BCE) to the emergence of Christianity as a prominent Roman religion in the late second century CE, including Mystery religions, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Mithraism, popular philosophical expressions of piety such as Stoicism and Epicureanism, as well as different forms of divination such as astrology, magic, dream analysis and alchemy.
    Professor Murray

    Religion 123b     World Religions II: Christianity     3-3-0
    An introduction to Christianity as a religious system: a survey of its foundational myths and figures, religious and moral teachings, rituals, sacred texts and places and attitudes toward other religions.
    Religion 124a     World Religions III: Hinduism     3-3-0
    A study of Hinduism in its infinite variety from earliest times to the present. Topics include: the Indus-Valley Civilization; early Vedic religion, its myths and gods; the Upanishads; Brahmanism; the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita; caste and religion; worship; Vaishnavism, Saivism and the mother goddess.

    Religion 125b     World Religions IV: Buddhism     3-3-0
    The origins of Buddhism in its native India and its spread throughout many countries of the East. The relationship of Buddhism to Hinduism and Jainism; the development of the Order, principal teachings and practices; meditation; ritual; study of major writings; modern developments.

    Religion 126a     World Religions V: Judaism     3-3-0
    An introduction to the history, literature, ideas and practices of Judaism from its biblical origins to the present. Topics include: the major festivals and high, holy days; Torah and Talmud, mitzvah and midrash; philosophers of Judaism; kabbalah and the mystical tradition; Temples and synagogues; Rabbinic Judaism; Orthodox, Conservative and Reform; dietary and religious practices; women and the rabbinate; rites of passage; the Holocaust; Judaism and Israel; messianism.

    Religion 127b     World Religions VI: Islam     3-3-0
    The history, literature, ideas and practices of Islam from its origins to the present. Attention is focussed on pre-Islamic Arabia; the life, example and practices of the Prophet; Muhammad the Qur’an; the caliphate and the umma; Sunnah and Hadith; the Five Pillars; worship; the Shariah, Sufism and the mystical tradition; Sunni and Shica; women in Islam; art and architecture in Islam; Islam and modernity.

    Religion 239b     The Origins of Religion and Spiritualism in Ancient Times     3-3-0
    This course will trace the development of spiritual and religious beliefs from the Upper Palaeolithic period (Old Stone Age) through the origins of seed agriculture and animal domestication in the Neolithic period, to the rise of cities and civilization about 5000 years ago. The course will begin by discussing the nature of spiritualism and religion, and then continue with an overview of the evidence for the spiritual and religious and practices of our more recent ancient hominid ancestors, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens sapiens. The last part of the course will concentrate on the way religious beliefs changed from the time of Stone Age hunters and gatherers, who lacked writing and worshiped in natural settings, to the first urban dwellers who worshiped in shrines and great temples and were able to record their religious beliefs and practices.

    APPROACHES, PERSPECTIVES AND EXPRESSIONS

    Religion/Classical Studies 107a     Introduction to Biblical Archaeology     3-3-0
    This course is an introduction to the methods and terminology of archaeology used in the eastern Mediterranean region of Syria-Palestine. Students will gain some familiarity with the methods and techniques of archaeological research, and an overview will be provided of the material remains of the cultures of Syria-Palestine (including the ancient Israelites, Philistines, Canaanites, Moabites and others), in order to illuminate the religious beliefs, art and cultural activities of these groups in the centuries preceding the Christian era.

    Religion/Classical Studies109a     Egypt and Mesopotamia: From the Rise of Civilization to the Persian Conquest     3-3-0
    The region of Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) saw the development of the first complex urban society more than 5000 years ago. About the same time, a second complex society, Egypt, was forming along the banks of the Nile River in Africa. Employing a mixture of historical texts and archaeological research, this course will give an overview of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia covering the time from the Neolithic Period (ca. 8500 BCE) to the Persian conquest in the sixth century BCE. It will begin with the formation of the first civilizations, the development of agriculture, writing, cities and major building projects in the form of temples and pyramids. In addition to examining the lives and political careers of important historical characters, the course will also explore the religious beliefs, and techniques of astronomy, medicine and warfare prevalent at the time.

    Religion 116/117(Classical Studies 241ab)     Archaeology in the Holy Land: Archaeological Field Methods     6-6-0
    Students registered in this course will participate in a six-week archaeological expedition to Jordan. Working under the supervision of professional archaeologists, students will be involved in the excavation and recording of artifacts recovered at Khirbat al- Mudayna, Jordan as part of the Wadi Ath-Thamad Excavation Project. Students will learn to take elevations, draw top plans and baulk sections, write daily, and weekly field reports, and related activities. During the season, students will take part in the educational program of the expedition, which will include seminars, lectures by visiting scholars on the archaeology and history of Jordon, plus field trips to museums, neighbouring excavations and major sites.

    Religion 146a     Women in Religion     3-3-0
    An investigation of the religious lives of early pagan, Jewish and Christian women in the context of the Graeco-Roman world. Literary and epigraphical sources from the fourth century BCE to the third century CE are analyzed in order to determine women’s roles, rites and practices, with special attention to constructions of gender in the Graeco- Roman world.
    Professor Murray

    Religion 148a     Psychology of Religion     3-3-0
    An introduction to major theoretical approaches to the psychological understanding of religion: pragmatism (James), Psychoanalysis (Freud, Jung, Erikson) and Humanism (Allport, Maslow).
    Professor White

    Religion 149b     Sociology of Religion     3-3-0
    An introduction to the understanding of religion as a social phenomenon: a discussion of the views of Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx, Emil Durkheim, Max Weber, Peter Berger and Robert Bellah.
    Professor White

    Religion 200b     Religion and Politics     3-3-0
    This course examines the intersection between extremist religious beliefs and political power, predominantly but not exclusively those cases in which violence and serious conflict have arisen. Possible topics include radical Zionist settlers in the West Bank, violent Hindu nationalism in India, Christian evangelicals in the United States, Islamist organizations (e.g., Al-Qaeda), the Japanese apocalyptic group Aum Shinrikyo, and the quest to establish Khalistan (an independent homeland in India) by militant Sikhs.

    Religion 232a     Philosophy of Religion I     3-3-0
    The subject matter of this course consists of philosophical arguments for the existence of God. Lectures and discussions will be based on original texts (in translation): Aquinas’ five proofs and the ontological argument in its classical (Anselm) and modern formulations. The modern and much debated argument from design will also be discussed. The class will also learn the standard critiques of those arguments by Hume, Kant, and others. If time allows, this will be followed by an analysis of the problem of evil as counting against belief in the existence of God.
    Professor White

    Religion 233b     Philosophy of Religion II     3-3-0
    The course focuses on two issues: (1) the problem of evil – if there is a God who is perfectly good and loving, omnipotent, and omniscient, why do people suffer?; and (2) the problems of religious knowledge, understanding and discourse – what, if anything, can one know of God, is talk of God meaningful and, if so, how? How might religious texts be interpreted and understood? Subjects include the classical theory of analogy, modern empiricism, contextual semantics, and recent hermeneutical (interpretation) theory.
    Professor White

    Religion 236b     Death and Dying in the Ancient World     3-3-0
    This course explores the myths, rituals and beliefs associated with death and dying in antiquity. Topics to be covered include myths associated with the afterlife; books of the dead; magic and death rituals; and understandings of heaven, hell and judgement.
    Prerequisite: Religion 100a or 101b or 122a or permission of instructor
    Professor Murray

    Religion 237a     Religion and Film     3-3-0
    This course employs film to study religion, and religion to study film. Different genres of film will be used to explore various issues, dimensions and expressions of religion, while images, metaphors and teachings found in religion will be employed to illuminate the material portrayed in film.
    Professor Murray

    Religion 252a     Christian Thought I     3-3-0
    This is a seminar course in which some of the major works in the development of Christian thought from the fifth century CE to the Reformation are read and discussed: e.g., works by Augustine, Boethius, Bonavanture, Aquinas, etc. Students prepare and present papers to the class.
    Professor White

    Religion 253b     Christian Thought II     3-3-0
    This seminar course examines important and representative Christian views from the Reformation to the present as expressed by e.g., Luther, Calvin, the Council of Trent, Schleiermacher, Vatican Councils 1 and 2, Tillich, feminist and liberation theologians, etc. Students prepare papers and present them to the class.
    Professor White

    Religion/Classical Studies 256a     History of Christianity     3-3-0
    Historical survey of early Christianity: its origin and spread as a Roman religion; developments in its thought, practices, canonical writings, offices and institutions, self-definition in response to internal challenges (heresies) and external critique and hostility; the impact of Constantine; the East-West split.
    Professor Murray

    Religion 257b     History of Christianity II     3-3-0
    Historical survey of Christianity from the medieval era to the present: development as a European religion; the Crusades; renewal and reformation movements; colonialism and the spread of Christianity beyond Europe; contemporary Christianities.
    Professor Murray

    Religion 330a     Issues and Problems in Religion I     3-3-0
    A seminar in which students prepare and present papers on selected issues and texts in theology and the philosophy of religion. The subjects are analyzed and discussed by the class. It is recommended that students enrolled have previously taken courses in religion or philosophy.
    Professor White

    Religion 331b     Issues and Problems in Religion II     3-3-0
    A seminar in which students prepare and present papers on selected issues and texts in theology and the philosophy of religion. The subjects are analyzed and discussed by the class. It is recommended that students enrolled have previously taken courses in religion or philosophy. However, students need not have taken Religion 330a in order to take this course.
    Professor White

    INDEPENDENT STUDIES

    Religion 300a     Independent Studies I     3-3-0

    Religion 301b     Independent Studies II     3-3-0
    Religion/Music 312ab     Independent Study in Performance, Liturgy, and Music     3-3-0
    This course is designed for student musicians performing services at St. Mark’s Chapel, and may be taken for credit in either Music or Religion. Its purpose is to acquaint the student with the historical and contemporary liturgical traditions of the Church of England, and of the musical repertoire which they embrace. It will be taught by members of the two departments, in consultation with the chaplain of St. Mark’s.

    Religion 402f     Honours Thesis     6-3-0
    A full-year (two semester) course in which the student does guided research into a subject, produces a written thesis, and, when completed, gives an oral defense of the thesis.
    Prerequisite: Departmental acceptance of the thesis proposal.

    Cognate Courses
    Designated courses in Classical Studies, History, Music, Philosophy, Political Studies (consult the department chair for course list), and other such courses as the department shall recognize.

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