REL W40 Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. This course explores the historical, moral, and theological dimensions of the Nazi Holocaust. Students study the history of anti-Semitism that culminated in Hitler’s persecution of the Jews, the historical account of the Holocaust itself, and the moral and theological issues raised by it. Resources used in this class are books on the history of anti-semitism and the Holocaust, two books by Elie Wiesel, and various films about the Holocaust and its significance. The course also includes a four-day field trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. This course may fulfill an elective in the Religion major or minor. Fee: $400. K. Pomykala. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
REL W41 Elie Wiesel, Holocaust & Theodicy. Among the challenges to the Judeo-Christian belief in an all-good, powerful, and loving Creator, the problem of evil (the question of theodicy) stands out. Among the atrocities of the modern world that aggravate the problem of evil for our times, the Nazi holocaust stands out. Elie Wiesel, an Auschwitz survivor and the 1986 Nobel Peace laureate, has devoted his life and writings to the remembrance of this horrific event in the attempt to discern and publish its moral lessons—above all: “never again!” This course wrestles with the problem of evil (theodicy) as facilitated by Wiesel’s holocaust experience and subsequent quest to sustain faith in God and hope for humanity in that arduous task to build a just and humane society. Students journey with Wiesel by aid of documentary and film, but principally through his own writings, which include Night, The Trial of God, The Town Beyond the Wall, Twilight and selections from his memoirs. Beyond the inspiration of Wiesel’s own life journey, students will deepen their appreciation of the question of theodicy, and of the theological resources for persevering in a world with an Auschwitz, a world still dangerously poised for genocide and mass annihilation. More particularly, students will become conversant in the issues surrounding theodicy, the range of “answers” offered to the problem of evil, as well as how Jewish theological and ethical resources, as exemplified by Wiesel, both inform and are formally commensurate with Christian resources, even if materially differentiated by one coming of the Messiah. This course may fulfill an elective in the Religion major. T. Thompson. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
REL W42 Birth, Sex, Death in Biblical World. Why is sexual intercourse "unclean" according to Lev 15:18? If the body is in the grave, where is the "person" after death? In recent years, anthropologists and other social scientists have begun to examine more closely the ways in which human cultures conceptualize and organize the ordinary events of the human life cycle. Biblical scholars, too, have begun to consider these things by using the Bible, not as a theological textbook, but as a window into the lives of ordinary people in ancient Israel and the early Church. This course looks at various aspects of the human life cycle as they are described or discussed in the Bible. Material from other ancient Near Eastern cultures is also used to illuminate the thought world of the Bible. Some of the aspects of the life cycle covered are the reasons why people wanted to have children, theories of conception and fetal development, birth and the postpartum period, the female reproductive cycle, the structure of marriage, raising children, sexual activity and restrictions, celibacy, old age, death, and the afterlife. Students get to 1) study biblical texts as reflections of a particular moment in human culture; 2) look at and interpret various biblical texts for themselves; 3) think about how various biblical texts might apply today. Students write a paper which is based on the material covered in class. This course may count as an elective in the Religion major and minor. R. Whitekettle. 8:30 a.m. to noon.