Religious Studies Major Requirements

Major Requirements

The Major in Religious Studies consists of seven courses beyond the two core religious studies classes required of every Saint Mary's student.

 


Sample Religious Studies Major Schedule

Class Year Fall Semester Spring Semester
Freshman
  • RLST 101 (3.0 credits)
  • Lab Science (4.0 credits)
  • English W (4.0 credits)
  • History (3.0 credits)
  • General Ed. Elective, such as history, English literature, math, philosophy, fine arts, communication, humanistic studies
    (3.0 credits)

Total 17 credits

  • Philosophy (3.0 credits)
  • Lab Science (4.0 credits)
  • Math (3.0 credits)
  • Fine Arts (3.0 credits)
  • General Ed. Elective, such as history, English literature, math, philosophy, fine arts, communication, humanistic studies
    (3.0 credits)

Total 16 credits

Sophomore
  • RLST 200-level (3.0 credits)
  • Social Science (3.0 credits)
  • Language (3.0 credits)
  • General Ed. Elective (3.0 credits)
  • Elective (3.0 credits)
  • Elective (3.0 credits)

Total 18 credits

  • RLST Elective/Major (3.0 credits)
  • Social Science (3.0 credits)
  • Language (3.0 credits)
  • Elective (3.0 credits)
  • Elective (3.0 credits)

Total 15 credits

Junior
  • RLST Elective/Major (3.0 credits)
  • RLST Elective/Major (3.0 credits)
  • Elective or 2nd Major (3.0 credits)
  • Elective or 2nd Major (3.0 credits)
  • Elective or 2nd Major (3.0 credits)
  • Elective (1.0 credits)

Total 16 credits

  • RLST Elective/Major (3.0 credits)
  • Elective or 2nd Major (3.0 credits)
  • Elective or 2nd Major (3.0 credits)
  • Elective or 2nd Major (3.0 credits)
  • Elective or 2nd Major (3.0 credits)
  • Elective (1.0 credits)

Total 16 credits

Senior
  • RLST Elective/Major (3.0 credits)
  • RLST Elective/Major (3.0 credits)
  • Elective or 2nd Major (3.0 credits)
  • Elective or 2nd Major (3.0 credits)
  • Elective or 2nd Major (3.0 credits)

Total 15 credits

  • RLST Elective/Major (3.0 credits)
  • Elective or 2nd Major (3.0 credits)
  • Elective or 2nd Major (3.0 credits)
  • Elective or 2nd Major (3.0 credits)
  • Elective or 2nd Major (3.0 credits)

Total 15 credits

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Course Requirements

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Every Religious Studies major must take one course each from the following areas. 


Theory of Theology

Theory gives us eyes to see. The theory of theology holds theology itself up to a mirror in a self-reflective, introspective moment to analyze sources, root assumptions, and techniques for proceeding. It asks how should theologians go about their work of faith seeking understanding? What other disciplines may bring light to the theological endeavor? What sources should be consulted and how should they be used? This search for structure within theology enhances the ability to develop sounder and clearer theological insights. This course will develop the ability to weigh reflectivity and evaluate carefully the factors (such as subject matter, audience, cultural context, and philosophical assumptions) that shape a given theology.

Courses satisfying this requirement:

  • RLST 370: "Aquinas's Search for God: Faith Meets Philosophy"
  • RLST 406: "Ways of Doing Theology"

 

Biblical Studies

Christians consider the Bible both revelation and canon. That is, they find in them the framework for understanding their faith in God and the kind of life they ought to live. A study of the Scriptures is, therefore, foundational to informed Christian theological discourse. In recent years, the study of both Testaments has been greatly enhanced by new methodologies. Courses fulfilling this requirement will develop the abilities to read Scripture with the discipline of modern methodologies and to understand the ways Scripture has been interpreted in the tradition.

Course satisfying this requirement:

  • RLST 304: "The Historical Jesus"
  • RLST 307: "Leviticus and Numbers:  Cultural Interpretations"
  • RLST 308: "Paul and His Times"

 

Historical Theology

Historical Theology operates on the principle that history matters to theology, not as an auxiliary discipline, but as a way of doing theology, as a way of âunderstanding faith and doctrine. Historical Theology seeks to locate the origins of doctrines and traces their evolution, including the impact on these doctrines made by major and lesser-known theologians from the tradition. This process requires the full rigor of historical criticism at the same time that it asks theological questions of its texts and contexts. Courses in Historical Theology study texts in their contexts to know how theological doctrines developed as they moved through history and as a way to inform the work of theology.

Courses satisfying this requirement:

  • RLST 325: "Great Theologians"
  • RLST 445: "Historical Theology"

 

Systematic Theology

Systematic Theology stands at the heart of the theological enterprise. Drawing on Biblical Studies for critical readings of biblical texts, on Historical Theology for reconstructions of the development of tradition, and on Theory of Theology for philosophical accounts of human experience, the systematic theologian undertakes a constructive dialogue between the wisdom of Scripture and tradition and the questions and experiences of contemporary life and culture. Standing at the meeting place of Christian heritage and contemporary life, the theologian works to articulate the meaning and truth of Christian doctrines in a way which is both faithful to scripture and tradition and credible to contemporary experience. While a full-fledged systematic theology seeks a comprehensive understanding of Christian doctrines and their interconnections, courses in systematic theology usually take a single area of doctrine (Church, grace, Christ, God, etc.) as their starting point.

Examples of courses satisfying this requirement:

  • RLST 315: "Free and Responsible: Grace and the Human Condition"
  • RLST 318: "Heaven and Hell" 
  • RLST 355: "African-American Theologies"
  • RLST 457: "Systematic Theology Seminar"

 

Ethical Studies

Ethical Studies is the comprehensive examination of Christian living with a particular focus on the theological as well as the moral convictions that inform Christian action. The doing of ethics is integral to the very process of theological reflection. Such an activity involves both theories of morality (how to envision the moral life) as well as the specific practices (how actions both shape and reflect theological beliefs) that embody those theories. Therefore, ethical studies is in dialogue with Systematic Theology, Historical Theology, Biblical Studies, and Theory of Theology. Since it is the Christian conviction that God is active in history, ethical studies seeks to describe that nexus where the historical Christian witness intersects contemporary culture. Courses fulfilling this requirement will enable students to gain both a critical and appreciative understanding of Christian moral thought and practice.

Courses satisfying this requirement:

  • RLST 352: "Religion and Politics"
  • RLST 458: "Theological Ethics"

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Religious Studies Electives

For their remaining two courses, majors will be strongly advised to explore the wide range of departmental electives at the 300 and 400 levels. Through these courses, students will encounter different methods of studying religion and different ways of doing theology in areas such as ethics, Christian life and spirituality, pastoral theology, religion and culture, religion and women, and world religions.

  • RLST 312: "Theologies of Love"
  • RLST 314: "Reading and Interpreting Hebrew Bible Prophets"
  • RLST 339: "Religion and Literature"
  • RLST 351: "Religion and Science"
  • RLST 362: "Becoming Women"
  • RLST 380: "World Religionsand Christianity"
  • RLST 476: "Theology for Ministry (I): Theory"
  • RLST 486: "Theology for Ministry (II): Practicum"

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