Barry R. Huff, Assistant Professor

Heather Martin, Assistant Professor

Gretchen Starr-LeBeau, Associate Professor

William B. Stock, Professor

Discovering the richness of scriptural texts, comparing the beliefs and practices of world religions, analyzing the history of the great monotheistic faiths, and understanding the history of the Christian Science movement in its social, political, and religious contexts—these expeditions of mind and heart are part of the study of religion at Principia College. As you travel on the academic journey of biblical and religious studies, you will be guided and challenged by faculty whose purpose is not to indoctrinate, but to empower you to think deeply and act compassionately. Your engagement with the vital questions of meaning, community, ethics, and spirituality will prepare you to contribute significantly to a world impacted at every level by religion.

Religion majors will choose a subject in an area of particular interest to focus on for their senior project and take a methodology course to prepare for this project. Areas of interest could be, but are not limited to, Christian Science history, comparative religion, religion and culture, biblical studies, religious history or a focus on a particular religious tradition.

Departmental Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will be biblically literate.

Students will be able to interpret and analyze biblical texts in contexts. They will be able to apply biblical texts to contemporary faith and life.

  1. Students will be ethically motivated thinkers and doers.

Students will be able to articulate ethical messages of theological texts and their contemporary application in classrooms, on campus and in the community.

  1. Students will be culturally engaged and historically informed global citizens.

Students will be able to appraise religious traditions and sacred texts and their intersection with religion, society, and culture, historically and today.

College-Wide Student Learning Outcomes of Principia College: Defining a Liberal Education

The curricular and co-curricular programs at Principia College are designed for students to be lifelong learners, thinkers, and problem-solvers, to draw out spiritual and moral qualities indispensable to growth in Christian Science, and to cultivate an understanding of service to the Cause of Christian Science in meeting the global needs of the 21st century. To accomplish this, the College has established the following outcomes for its graduates. Students graduating from Principia College will:

  1. Demonstrate a depth and breadth of knowledge.
  2. Demonstrate critical and generative thinking.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively.
  4. Be intentional learners.
  5. Be effective members of communities.
  6. Act on the basis of Principle.

REL 110The Old Testament3.0 SH[GEB]

Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures as history, as literature, and as a statement of faith. God's covenant with Israel forms a unifying motif, seen against the background of the ancient Near East. A brief overview of the New Testament is also included.

REL 120The New Testament3.0 SH[GEB]

An introductory overview of the historical context, literary genres, and theological and ethical messages of the New Testament, with focus on its contemporary relevance, the identity of Jesus, and what it means to be his follower. A brief overview of the Old Testament is also included.

REL 130World Religions3.0 SH[GEH]

An introduction to the world's religious traditions, including the three Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, and other traditions at the discretion of the instructor. This course provides an opportunity to learn about the diversity of religious practice in the world and prepares students for a world impacted by religion at every level.

REL 215The Hebrew Prophets3.0 SH[GEH]

Prophecy as a quest for leadership and as insight into social and moral conditions in Israel before, during, and after the exile.

REL 218Wisdom Literature and Psalms3.0 SH[GEH]

Close reading of Psalms, Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes, with reference to wisdom traditions of the ancient Near East.

REL 222The Bible and the Environment3.0 SH[GEH]

This course critically examines and interprets relevant biblical texts within the context of the current ecological crisis with the intent of articulating a biblical case that responds to the challenge to live faithfully and responsibly as stewards of the Earth and its resources.

REL 224Christian Gospels3.0 SH[GEH]

An examination of the origins and development of Christian gospels in and outside the New Testament canon, as historical, literary, and theological products of the early Church, and of their contemporary interpretations.

REL 225The Bible & Comparative Ethics3.0 SH[GEH]

A survey of systems of biblical ethics and their basis in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures serves as the basis for comparative study of other religious and secular systems of ethics, and the interaction between ethical teachings of world religions.
Prerequisite: REL 110 or REL 120.

REL 227Paul the Apostle3.0 SH[GEH]

An exploration of the life, letters, thought and impact of the prolific and controversial apostle. The book of Acts, Paul's letters and those attributed to him, are examined in order to better understand both the man and the message.

REL 230Faith and Film3.0 SH[GEH]

Students will develop evaluative and critical skills for use in their encounter with the medium of film. These skills will be applied both to films with explicitly religious and spiritual themes, as well as to films in which such themes are more hidden and implicit. Theories of film criticism and biblical scholarship and sensitivity will be employed as students view, discuss, review, and research a variety of popular films.

REL 231History of Christianity3.0 SH[GEH]

An exploration of the Christian churches from their beginnings in the apostolic period to their most recent expressions in the twenty-first century. The course considers how Christianity has shaped societies and how societies have shaped Christianity. Major movements, leading figures, theological developments, and religious trends will be examined to better understand the global spectrum of Christian expressions.

REL 240Introduction to Islam3.0 SH[GEH]

The study of Islam as a religion, focusing on the Quran, the prophet Muhammad, ritual, commentary, dissent, and important religious themes and developments during three periods: Middle (650-850 CE); Mature (850-1500 CE); and Modern (1600-present).

REL 260Religion in America3.0 SH[GEH]

An historical survey of religious groups and movements that shaped and were shaped by the American experience.

REL 270Gender & Religion3.0 SH[GEH]

This course examines underlying assumptions about gender roles in the context of scripture and religious practice. It explores historical, cultural, and religious expectations about men's and women's attitudes and interests, and how those appear in scriptures and in various religious traditions. The title will be extended to describe the current topic. May be taken two times provided the topics differ.

REL 275Christian Science Movement3.0 SH[GEH]

This course allows students to engage in in-depth study of specific aspects of the history and/or cultural practice of Christian Science at various times and places. May be repeated once provided the topics differ.

REL 300Biblical Interpretation3.0 SH[  ]

An analysis and practicum of the methods scholars and others have used to interpret biblical literature, from antiquity to the present.
Prerequisite: REL 110 or REL 120.

REL 304Topics in Biblical Studies1.0-3.0 SH[  ]

A seminar on a topic in biblical studies at the advanced level. The content varies, and the title will be extended to describe the current topic. May be offered for variable credit from one to three semester hours. May be repeated up to a total of nine semester hours provided the topics differ.
Prerequisite: REL 110 or REL 120.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only.

REL 307Spiritual Autobiographies3.0 SH[  ]

In this course we will explore classic and contemporary spiritual autobiographies and learn about the practices of faith that sustained and challenged diverse religous people. Students study texts from different cultures and historical periods, discovering how historical and cultural context shapes faith. Through critical examination of the texts, students will reflect on their own spiritual journeys and identities.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only.

REL 310Topics in Religious Studies1.0-3.0 SH[  ]

A seminar on a topic in religious studies at the advanced level. The content varies, and the title will be extended to describe the current topic. Topic areas include comparative religions, history of religions, philosophy and ethics of religions, and religion in society. May be offered for variable credit from one to three semester hours. May be repeated up to a total of nine semester hours provided the topics differ.
Prerequisite: at least one REL course.

REL 332The Life of Mary Baker Eddy3.0 SH[  ]

An historical survey of the life and times of Mary Baker Eddy, from her childhood through her work as Discoverer, Founder, and Leader of Christian Science.
Prerequisite: completion of one course in religion, history, or philosophy.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only.

REL 365God and the Holocaust3.0 SH[GEH]

This course helps students understand the historical background, context, events, and aftermath of the Holocaust. We will also be addressing the implications and repercussions of the Holocaust on religious practice and theology. Finally, the course is intended to encourage students independently to develop their own prayerful response to examples of violence and evil.
Class Level Restriction: Sophomore and Junior and Senior only.

REL 370Jews, Christians, & Muslims3.0 SH[GEH]

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam sometimes interact harmoniously, but at other periods have fought bitterly. This course compares these religions theologically, legally, and culturally; traces the history of the interactions among these religions; and also examines contemporary relations between these three religions.

REL 390Methods of Religious Study3.0 SH[  ]

This course provides students with an understanding of the methodological tools used in the study of religion; it also gives students the opportunity to reflect upon which of those methods will be most helpful to them in undertaking a specific research project in which religion is a significant category of analysis.
Prerequisite: REL 110 or REL 120 and two REL courses numbered 200 or above.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only.

REL 401Capstone Project1.0-3.0 SH[  ]

A selected topic, area, or problem providing opportunity for survey, investigation, research, creative activity, or approved travel-study. May be offered for variable credit from one to three semester hours. May be taken three times up to a total of six semester hours. May be offered on an independent contract basis.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only.