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(518) 580 - 5400

(518) 580 - 5409

Office location: Ladd Hall, 2nd Floor

Reginald S. Lilly, Professor of Philosophy

Ruby Grande


RE 103-001     Religion & Culture     4 Cr.
M     11:15 - 12:10     G. Spinner
T/TH     11:10 - 12:30

RE 103-002     Religion & Culture     4 Cr.
M     1:25 - 2:20     G. Spinner
T/TH     2:10 - 3:30

RE 103-003     Religion & Culture     4 Cr.
T/TH     9:10 - 11:00     O. Solovieva

RE 202     Christian Scriptures     3 Cr.
M/W     2:30 - 3:50     J. Tibbetts

RE 220    Encountering the Goddess of India   3 Cr.
T/TH     9:40 - 11:00     J. Smith

RE 230     Death & Immortality     3 Cr.
T/TH     12:40 - 2:00     O. Solovieva
(course description below)

RE 330-001    Midrash: Scripture Reimagined     4 Cr.
T/TH     3:40 - 5:00     G. Spinner
(course description below)

RE 330-002     Sufism     4 Cr.
M/W     2:30 - 4:20     O. Solovieva
(course description below)

RE 230 Death & Immortality 

     This course will be a cross-cultural exploration of the religious interpretations of death and its beyond. Throughout the semester, we will take a look at several different perspectives on death and afterlife as articulated in texts, doctrines, and ritual practices of selected religious traditions including but not limited to, Hinduism, Buddhism, Ancient Greek and Near Eastern religions, Christianity, and indigenous traditions of Mesoamerica. In the course of this study we will see how these different perspectives are integrally related to the particular religions’ cosmologies, visions of the ultimate reality, and their concepts of human nature and ethics.

RE 330-001 Midrash: Scripture Reimagined 

     This course introduces the fascinating blend of critical and creative readings that constitute midrash, the meta-genre of Jewish exegesis. “Midrash” is what Jews have been doing with the Bible for millennia: retelling it and rereading it, effectively reinventing their sacred traditions (and in the process inventing what comes to be called “Judaism”).  Reading primary texts in English translation, we will survey some of the vast and varied corpus of Jewish literature produced after the Bible. Moving from novels and parables and animal fables to martyrologies and apocalypses, ranging across rabbinic commentaries and kabbalistic secrets, we will sample the pious fictions and fantastic stories that animate Jewish thought and practice. As religious texts are engaged deeply, and their prior meanings expanded upon, the closed canon is ingeniously reopened, requiring us to rethink our very notions of what is “Scripture.” No prerequisite; although the instructor does recommend either some prior knowledge of the Bible or some background in the Jewish tradition.

 RE 330-002     Sufism 

     Mysticism as a quest for transformative knowledge and conscious experience of the ultimate reality has been an important dimension of many religious traditions and cultures of the world. In this course we will focus on Sufism—a complex and fascinating mystical path or tradition developed within Islam. Drawing on the Sufi texts as well as on discussions and representations of Sufism in scholarly readings, film, and other contemporary sources, we will attend to a number of crucial questions raised in the Islamic mystical practice and thought: What is the nature of God and of human self? How can we access and experience the divine reality? How does one meaningfully articulate this experience? What is the relationship between Sufism and the overall tradition of Islam? Specific topics explored in the course of this semester will include mystical interpretations of Islamic scriptures; Sufi poetry and music; various Sufi orders and their meditative techniques; the tradition of “love mysticism” as embodied by Rumi and Rabi’a of Basra; the metaphysical mysticism of Ibn al-Arabi; social contexts and roles of the Sufi movements; and some of the controversies surrounding Sufism throughout its history and in the contemporary scene.