Major in Religious Studies

A Major in Religious Studies requires that a student completes the three core courses (AncH 1000, 2000, and RS 3000) as well as RS 2050 (or their equivalent).  In addition, the student is required to take seven upper-level religious studies electives (21 credit hours), and must include at least one seminar course. A grade of C or better in each course of this discipline is required for the major. If the mark is lower the course can still count toward the total credit hours, but not the major. NOTE: The thesis (RS 4080 and 4082) may only count as three credit hours toward the requirements for the upper-level electives.

Minor in Religious Studies

A minor in Religious Studies requires the core courses: AncH 1000, 2000 and RS 3000 or their equivalent, plus an additional 18 credit hours in Ancient History or Religious Studies courses of which 12 credit hours must be at the upper level. A grade of C or better in each course of this discipline is required for the minor. If the mark is lower the course can still count toward the total credit hours, but not the minor. We also offer related minors in Catholic Studies and Ecumenical Studies.


AncH 1000 Ancient Israel and Second Temple Judaism

Introduces the student to the historical background and literature of the Israelite nation from its beginnings to the Maccabean period.

AncH 2000 Early Christian Origins

Introduces the student to the political and religious history of the first century in Palestine and to the literature of the New Testament.

RS 3000 Philosophy of Religion

Considers issues in the philosophy of religion such as: the arguments for God’s existence, the problem of evil, religious language and the question of whether the attributes of God are genuinely possible.


RS 2050 A Historical Introduction to World Religions

This course will introduce the main religious traditions of the modern world by reading and discussing foundational religious texts, analyzing culture-specific religious practices, and by interrogating the particular rhetorical devices Western society uses to sanitize and de-politicize all religious desire. In addition, special attention will be paid to those religious traditions set to be encountered on SSU’s study abroad term in Southeast Asia.


CS 2650 Catholicism: A Cross-Cultural Journey

Starting from the essential foundation of Jesus Christ’s incarnation, life, and teaching, this course introduces Catholicism using Father Barron’s DVD lectures. It moves through the defining elements of Catholicism – from sacraments, worship, and prayer, to Mary, the Apostles, and Saints, to grace, salvation, heaven, and hell – using his distinct and dynamic grasp of art, literature, architecture, personal stories, Scripture, theology, philosophy, and history to present the Church to the world.


RS 3130 Pauline Narratives and Themes

This course provides an examination of the correlation between narrative and doctrine in some of the writings of or about the apostle Paul. It analyzes a wide array of interpretative schemes in order to assess whether or not Paul has been well understood throughout history. Students will be given the opportunity to explore one major theme for themselves and to present their work for other participants.

RS 3180 Peace and Violence in the New Testament

This course will focus on peace as a major New Testament theme by examining the life, teachings, and cruciform enthronement of Christ as the Prince of Peace; exploring the content and implications of the gospel of peace (via-à-vis atonement and reconciliation); and interpreting the Book of Revelation through a Lamb-centered cipher. While the gospels will figure prominently, the scope of this course includes the entire New Testament canon, including the gospels, Acts of the Apostles, Pauline epistles, pastoral epistles, and the Book of Revelation.

RS 3182 Peace and Violence in the Old Testament

This course will focus on peace and violence as OT themes. It will examine the apparent violence of God, as well as the commands for human violence. It will further unpack the prophetic response to the violence, including the prophecies of the Prince of peace and kingdom of peace. And we will examine how Christ, the apostles and the early church responded to these OT texts.

RS 3270 New Testament Greek

An introduction to the ancient Greek language used in the writing of the New Testament. This course assumes no previous knowledge of the language, and it is taught in English.  Beginning with fundamental noun and verb forms, the course aims at developing the student’s ability to translate simple Greek sentences.

RS 3380 Peace Theology and Social Justice

This course will explore a variety of perspectives on peace theology by drawing on examples and lessons from the Scriptures and Christian history. We will explore themes such as pacifism, nonviolence, ‘just’ peacemaking, just war, necessary or lesser evil, love of enemies, mimetic theory, reconciliation, and inner peace, among others. Although different perspectives will be explored, this course will promote peace as an appropriate theological component and lens, while acknowledging that it can be incorporated in a variety of ways.

RS 3482 The Inner Transformation of a Peacemaker

The inner transformation of a peacemaker gives the interior foundation for being a genuine rather than contrived and inauthentic agent of peace. This course will explore issues of ego, pride, anger, a sense of failure, and other impulses that can be transformed into patience, self-control, compassion, and other virtues—especially humility to overcome ‘epistemological hubris’—in circumstances ranging from violent forms of communication to the chaos and trauma of violent conflict. We will therefore explore historical ascetic, spiritual, and contemplative disciplines and exercises that induce our transformation as peacemakers and are directly transferable into real-life situations.

RS/CS 2/3510 Theological Reflections on Suffering

Examines the difficulties related to theodicy (or the justice of God) in light of the suffering of the world. Readings are drawn from Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish sources. The focus grows from individual laments to discussion of societal injustice in the Holocaust and in South Africa under Apartheid. There is a consistent concern for finding the most helpful responses toward our own suffering as well as the suffering of others.

RS 3511 Encountering World Religions

As part of the Asia Study Abroad term, this course prepares students for visits to sites related to Southeast Asian religions. It facilitates interpretation and reflection on the experiential learning encounters with Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Asian expressions of Christianity.

RS/CS 3610 In the Footsteps of the Saints

The course consists of an historical survey of the lives of Catholic saints, in the context of their personal journeys and cultural circumstances.

RS/CS3612 The Christian Worldview of CS Lewis

This course includes a detailed study and analysis of the major works of theology and apologetics of C.S. Lewis, along with relevant selections from his fantasy and fiction works, in order to provide a comprehensive survey of his Christian vision of God, humanity, culture, and the cosmos. Limitations and problems that may be inherent in his worldview will also be discussed. The relevance of the writings of Lewis to the progress of ecumenical dialogue today will be a recurrent theme.

RS/CS 3614 Christian Theology in Ecumenical Dialogue

A study and analysis of the efforts of the Christian churches over the past century to overcome their differences of doctrine and practice through ecumenical dialogue. This course introduces students to the distinctive beliefs of the great Christian traditions (Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox) through reading texts written by exponents of each one, as well as to the ongoing search for common ground and mutual enrichment among them. Students also will read and reflect on some of the main ecumenical dialogue statements produced by ecumenical commissions on issues such as the doctrine of Justification by Faith, the role of Mary in God’s plan of salvation, and the Saskatoon common statement of faith and mission by Catholics and Evangelicals.

RS/CS 3682 Divine Mercy Essentials

An in-depth exploration of the doctrine of God’s merciful Love as it is revealed in Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the life and witness of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, “the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time” (St. John Paul II). This course also surveys every major aspect of the contemporary devotion to The Divine Mercy, as well as liturgical and pastoral issues that arise from its practice. The aim is to “see everything again for the first time,” envisioning what the Catholic Faith and spiritual life look like when God’s merciful Love is placed at the center.

RS 3811 Response to Religious Difference

As part of the Europe Study Abroad term, this course is concerned both with facts and with ideas, with history, theology and philosophy, and with trying to understand the past while assessing the present in order to be prepared for the future. The course title is intentionally broad so as to encompass these different threads, and so that the themes of the course can be connected with relevant sites visited during our travel program, leaving it to individual students to delve more deeply into chosen aspects. Within this broad scheme, ‘religious difference’ could include the dissent of a religious minority, or even an individual, in the face of religious hegemony; the disagreement and discord of two religious groups with equal power; or simply the reality of religious diversity within a given region or nation.

RS/CS 3812 Historical themes in Religion and Culture (“Monks, Martyrs and Mystics”)

This course surveys some of the most important writers in the history of the Christian church, helping students to gain understanding of challenges and perspectives from various times and places. Sources include Apostolic Fathers, Athanasius, Augustine, Benedict, Gregory the Great, Bernard of Clairvaux, Francis of Assisi, Thomas à Kempis, Luther, Calvin, Theresa of Avila, Therese de Lisieux, Bonhoeffer and C. S. Lewis.

RS 3820 The Community and Individual Transformation

This is a senior level course designed to explore the role of the community as the
context for individual transformation (healing and growth). The course will explore the spiritual and relational dynamics that rise to the surface throughout the rich history of intentional Christian communities. An interdisciplinary style will be adopted drawing on theological, psychological, sociological and historical perspectives.

RS/ENG 3824 The Plot Thickens: Reading The Bible as Literature

Is there a way to read the Bible so that it helps one to cry, to laugh out loud, to be surprised by hope? What if the Bible were read as a story with many voices: terrifying, comedic, comforting, hope-filled? What if it is a story whose ending the reader might be involved in writing? How would that change readings shaped by the notion of the Bible -as-rulebook? Hermeneutic approaches to the Bible have embraced a variety of methodologies and disciplines: archaeology, linguistics, anthropology and literary and historical criticism. This course will include some of the above as they illuminate the main focus: the lens of Bible -as-narrative and the crucial role the imagination plays as a way of engaging with this text. The plot thickens!

RS/IS 3882 Religion, Peace, and Conflict

By drawing on sacred texts and experiences of the major world religions and the available studies on religious violence and peace, this course examines how religion can intersect with other political, economic, social and cultural forces to justify violent conflict and explores the many ways in which interfaith peacebuilders may appeal to religious values, teachings, rituals, and myths as resources for interreligious peacebuilding. This course also explores components and strategies of peacebuilding that are best suited to transforming sectarian conflict.

RS/CS 4080 Thesis Reading and Research

The research portion of the baccalaureate thesis project in Religious Studies. By the end of the term, each student will submit to the instructor: (1) an annotated bibliography of the secondary material relevant to the thesis, (2) an 8- to 10-page paper related to some aspect of the material examined during the bibliographical search, and (3) a detailed outline of the thesis.

RS/CS 4082 Baccalaureate Thesis

Following successful completion of RS 4080, a student may use the research to write a thesis of at least 15,000 words (exclusive of footnotes and bibliography). The thesis should demonstrate thoughtful appraisal and the ability to present a scholarly argument, and should reflect the ethos of SSU in a substantial way. At the conclusion of the term, students will be required to make oral presentations based on their theses.

RS/CS 4084 Senior Research Project

A single term, guided research project in Religious Studies involving the completion of an essay of 5-7000 words or equivalent.Students may enroll in RS 4084, undertaking a directed study in a selected topic with one professor, producing a major research essay at the end of the course. Permission to undertake such a plan of study must be granted by the RS 4084 professor, the Dean of Arts and the Associate Registrar.

RS 4370 Contemporary Themes in Religion and Culture (Jesus through a Postmodern Lens)

This course surveys various kinds of Christian postmodern writings in order to bring different questions to New Testament stories. Largely, it focuses on understanding a postmodern ethos and how this affects an approach toward “Truth”, the nature of reality, and communication within a changing cultural context. Class material aims at a balance between Truth as an act of power over others and Truth as flux without anchor.

RS/CS 4420 The Concept of Miracles

Systematically examines the topic of miracles, sensitive to the historical and scientific claims that have largely motivated discussion of the concept.

RS/CS 4820 Philosophy of Science and God

This course examines three areas of interface between scientific investigation and religious belief, namely issues surrounding the origin of the universe, the origin and development of biological life, and the nature of death. The course will be divided into four sections. The first section deals with methodological and demarcation issues, as well as general models of integrating scientific and religious beliefs, the second section considers the implications of big bang cosmology, the third section considers fine tuning arguments and controversies around evolution and intelligent design, and the fourth section examines different interpretations of near death experiences.

Total Degree Requirements: 120 Credit Hours

St. Stephen’s University reserves the right to cancel or revise any of the courses listed or to withdraw for the term any course for which there is insufficient demand. All courses are not offered every year.