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Department of Religious Studies

Department of Religious Studies

To download this academic catalog in Arabic, click here.

 

Credits needed toward the degree

A student majoring in Religious Studies needs to earn a total of 125 credits distributed as follows.

Category

Credits

Major

64

Minor

24

University Requirements

34

Electives

3

Total

125

 

Major in Religious Studies

The Religious Studies major consists of 64 credits as in the following table.

 

RELS 101

Introduction to Theology (3)

RELS 274

Curriculum Formation (2)

RELS 102

Foundations in Philosophy (3)

RELS 301

The Johannine Writings (3)

RELS 104

Old Testament I (3)

RELS 302

Islam: Faith & Practice (2)

RELS 200

Synoptic Gospels (4)

RELS 304

Church History II (2)

RELS 206

Liturgy (3)

RELS 305

St. Paul’s Writings (3)

RELS 208

Old Testament II (3)

RELS 306

Judaism: Faith & Practice (2)

RELS 209

Ethics I (Moral Theology) (3)

RELS 307

Ethics II: Special Problems (2)

RELS 220

Christian Doctrine (4)

RELS 401

Christology (4)

RELS 221

Church History I (3)

RELS 403

Selected Topics (3)

RELS 222

Christian Spirituality (2)

RELS 405

Found. in Pastoral Theology (2)

RELS 226

Arab Christian Patristic (2)

RELS 406

The Church (3)

RELS 227

The Holy Land (3)

 

 

 

Students majoring in Religious Studies are provided the opportunity to minor in a discipline other than their major field. A student may take a minor program consisting of 24 credits from among the minor programs offered in the Faculties of Arts, Sciences, and Business Administration. A student may also take a minor offered by the Religious Studies Department.

The University Requirements for all Religious Studies students total 34 credits. PHIL 302 requirement is met by RELS 102 and the RELS 300 requirement is met by RELS 220, RELS 302 or RELS 306.

 

Paradigm of courses

 

Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies

First Year


FALL SEMESTER

 CR

SPRING SEMESTER

CR

RELS 101

Introduction to Theology

3

 RELS 104

Old Testament I

3

RELS 102

Foundations in Philosophy

3

 RELS 220

Christian Doctrine

4

ENGL 120

English Lang. Skills I

3

 ENGL 121

English Lang. Skills II

3

ARAB 120

Arabic Lang. Skills I

3

 ARAB 121

Arabic Lang. Skills II

3

MATH 111

Fundamentals of Math.

3

 SCIE 111

General Science

3

 

 

15

 

 

16

 


Second Year

FALL SEMESTER

CR

SPRING SEMESTER

 CR

RELS 227

The Holy Land

3

RELS 226

Arab Christian Patristics

2

RELS 301

The Johannine Writings

3

RELS 305

St. Paul’s Writings

3

RELS 302

Islam: Faith & Practice

2

RELS 306

Judaism: Faith & Practice

2

HIST 120

Modern Palestine

3

RELS 209

Ethics I

3

ENG213

English Language Skills

3

ECON 300

Basic Economics

3

 

Minor

3

 

Minor

3

 

 

17

 

 

16

 

Third Year

FALL SEMESTER

CR

SPRING SEMESTER

CR

RELS 200

Synoptic Gospels

4

RELS 208

Old Testament II

3

RELS 206

Liturgy

3

RELS 304

Church History II

2

RELS 221

Church History I

3

RELS 307

Ethics II: Special Prob.

2

 

Minor

3

 

General Elective

3

 

Minor

3

 

Fine Arts

 

 

Requirement

2

 

Minor

3

 

 

16

 

 

15

   

Fourth Year

FALL SEMESTER

CR

SPRING SEMESTER

 CR

RELS 222

Christian Spirituality

2

RELS 274

Curriculum Formation

2

RELS 401

Christology

4

RELS 405

Found. in Past.

 

 Theology

2

 

 

 

 

RELS 403

Selected Topics

3

RELS 406

The Church

3

POLS 300

Themes in Political Sc.

3

PSED 101

Physical Education

1

CMSR 101

Community Service

1

 

Minor

3

 

Minor

3

 

Minor

3

 

 

16

 

 

14

 

Minor offered by the Department of Religious Studies

In addition to the major in religious studies, the department provides the opportunity for all students to join the program towards a minor in Catechetics.

To earn this minor, students are required to successfully complete all of the following courses (a total of 24 credits). These courses are usually offered in the summer.

 

Minor in Catechetics

RELS 207

Catechetics and Old Test. (3)

RELS 311

The Education Triangle (3)

RELS 214

School Dynamics (3)

RELS 312

The Religious Educator (3)

RELS 215

Christ. Educ. in Mission of the Church (3)

RELS 380

 

Religious Education and Different Stages of Life (3)

RELS 308

Catechetics and New Test. (3)

RELS 408

The Content of the Religious Education (3)


Diploma in Christian Education – Amman

The Religious Studies Department also makes available for those students in Amman, Jordan, the opportunity to earn a teaching Diploma in Christian Education. This is a two-year program with all of the courses taught in Amman under the capable direction of qualified and experienced teachers. The diplomas are stamped and accepted by the Ministry of Education in Jordan. To earn this diploma, students are required to successfully complete all of the following courses, a total of 41 credits.

First Year

FALL SEMESTER

CR

SPRING SEMESTER

CR

RELS 103

Intro. To Religious Educ.

3

RELS 124

Methods in Religious Educ.

1

RELS 119

Christian Anthropology

1

RELS 223

Basic Christian Doctrine

3

RELS 212

Teaching Old Testament

3

RELS 224

Theology of the Church

3

 

SUMMER SEMESTER

CR

RELS 120

Psychological Foundations of Teaching

3

RELS 221

Church History

3


Second Year

FALL SEMESTER

CR

SPRING SEMESTER

CR

RELS 210

Teaching New Testament I

2

RELS 211

Teaching New Testament II

2

RELS 222

Christian Spirituality I

3

RELS 213

Teaching Moral Theology

3

RELS 274

Curriculum Formation

2

RELS 225

Christian Spirituality II

2

 

 

 

RELS 373

Supervised Teaching

1

 

SUMMER SEMESTER

CR

RELS 272

Christian Social Teaching

1

RELS 275

Leadership and Ministry in Church

2

RELS 333

Teaching Liturgy

3


Description of Courses


RELS 101 Introduction to Theology (Cr. 3)

The course introduces students to the main areas of Christian theology. It encourages thinking in theology which does not separate theory and practice, nor academic and internalized theology. It also introduces students to the study of religion and to the methodology of such a study. It provides a basic knowledge and understanding of the specific characteristics and teachings of the major subsequent courses in Religious Studies.

RELS 102 Foundations in Philosophy (Cr. 3)

The course introduces students to Greek philosophy and its development in Arab and European philosophies. It examines the main currents of thought regarding the Christian faith through a historical outline of philosophical thinking from the Middle Ages to the present day. It discusses the relation of the Christian faith to philosophical systems and problems.

RELS 103 Introduction to Religious Education (Cr. 3)

This course presents an overall understanding of the meaning, objectives, and necessity of religious education in an Arab setting, using Dewey and Groome as sources.

RELS 104 Introduction to the Old Testament I (Cr. 3)

This introduction familiarizes the student with the Old Testament. In the introduction, historical and cultural background to the Old Testament as well as methods of interpretation are presented. The course then focuses on a reading of the four parts of the Old Testament – the Pentateuch, the Historical Books, the Wisdom Books, and the Prophets – emphasizing the coherency of the Old Testament as a primary witness to the history of salvation. Certain themes receive special attention: election, covenant, the law, prophecy, wisdom, forgiveness, the Messiah, and the salvation of the nations.

RELS 119 Christian Anthropology (Cr. 1)

This course seeks to know the human person according to Christian theology, education, and eschatology.

RELS 120 Psychological Foundations of Teaching (Cr. 3)

This course takes the form of a general introductory survey, presenting the fundamental concepts of psychology with emphasis on mental functions and personality. It also presents essentials in developmental theories.

RELS 124 Methods in Religious Education (Cr. 1)

This course presents various methods for religious education: memorization, lecture, questions, problem solving, etc. It aims at students’ evaluation of these methods and objectives.

RELS 200 Synoptic Gospels (Cr. 4)

This course offers a careful reading of the Synoptic Gospels and presents the different methods of Biblical criticism: critical-historical and literary methods, psychological and sociological approaches, and philosophical and theological approaches. This course ensures that students understand the relationship between the one Gospel and the four expressions of it. It explores some of the major themes of the Gospels and the particular perspective of each Gospel writer in his time.

RELS 206 Liturgy (Cr. 3)

This course explores the origin and meaning of the central Christian rituals, which are rooted in and expressive of the nature of the human person and the nature and purpose of the Christian community. It provides the foundations for answering questions on symbols and rituals, sacraments, sacred space, and time. It discusses contemporary issues such as baptism of infants, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, mixed marriages, and re-baptism, etc.

RELS 207 Catechetics and Old Testament (Cr. 3)

This course focuses on questions raised in the parish, the home, and the school by the stories of creation, sin and violence, the history of salvation, the election of the Jewish people, the Messianic promises, the covenants, and the role of prophecy and prayer. The course helps the religious educators to deal with contemporary problems raised by the Scriptures.

RELS 208 Old Testament II (Cr. 3)

This course helps students continue their discovery of the Old Testament, building on the course “Introduction to the Old Testament.” Three specific issues are addressed in the reading of the Old Testament: the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament and the fundamental unity of the Christian Bible; the relationship between the Christian reading of the Old Testament and the Jewish reading on the one hand, and the Old Testament heritage as it appears in the Quran and Islamic tradition on the other hand; and the contemporary debate about reading the Old Testament within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (understanding the Old Testament categories of election, covenant, and land).

RELS 209 Ethics I (Moral Theology) (Cr. 3)

This course explores the nature of morality from a Christian perspective. It provides a basic introduction to the study of Christian ethics. This requires an examination of the sources used by Christians to inform their ethical thinking: the Bible, the tradition of the Christian Churches, and human reason.

RELS 210 Teaching New Testament I (Cr. 2)

This course is an overview of the books of the New Testament as well as a general view of the historical and social background of the New Testament. The four Gospels have special attention with an emphasis upon the theological interest of each of the authors.

RELS 211 Teaching New Testament II (Cr. 2)

This course presents an overview of the Acts of the Apostles and, after a brief presentation of the life of Paul, a short review of Paul’s letters. The themes to be developed are: who is Jesus, the Church, and the Christians.

RELS 212 Teaching Old Testament (Cr. 3)

This course introduces the student to the basic scholarly and theological concepts necessary for a Christian reading of the Old Testament in its historical and literary context.

RELS 213 Teaching Moral Theology (Cr. 3)

This course provides a basic introduction to the study of Christian ethics. Sources are the Bible, the traditions of the Christian Churches, and human reason.

RELS 214 School Dynamics (Cr. 3)

This course provides students with necessary information and abilities for creating a positive atmosphere inside the classroom. This is to promote students’ ability to cooperate with others, and to confidently face the requirements of life. Consequently, this course answers the following questions: Which elements do we need to promote for the development of the students’ personalities and how we do this? At the end, this course provides training to achieve these aims in the school.

RELS 215 Christian Education in the Mission of the Church (Cr. 3)

This course defines the importance of Christian education in the general mission of the Church, and to clarify its nature, specifications, aims and goals, duties, means and instruments, and the organizational structures related to these. It relates Christian education with the education program of the school in general and the Christian school in particular. It evaluates the different aspects of this educational reality in order to better specify new needs and obstacles. This course also studies the place of Christian education within the educational policy of the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education.

RELS 220 Christian Doctrine (Cr. 4)

This course introduces the students to the major truths of Christian teaching on God, creation, revelation, redemption, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the sacraments, Mary, and eschatology.

RELS 221 Church History I (Cr. 3)

East and West until 1400 A.D. This course gives students an understanding of the development of Christianity as it rooted itself in the Mediterranean world. It considers the interaction of ideas and particular historical settings in relation to the spread of Christianity. It investigates the events that shaped Christian life in the first fifteen centuries and examines Christian self-identity.

RELS 222 Christian Spirituality I (Cr. 2)

This course deals with the nature and definition of the spiritual life. Emphasis is placed on an understanding of God as personal and one with whom a personal relationship is possible. Examples are studied from the Bible, e.g. Abraham, Mary, and the Apostles. Living in the spirit as presented by Paul will be of central concern. The challenge for spirituality in today’s world is explored, and students are challenged to develop a contemporary personal spirituality.

RELS 223 Basic Christian Doctrine (Cr. 3)

This course is a theological study of basic Christian doctrine with emphasis upon: God, the Trinity, Christ, the Holy Spirit, creation, and redemption.

RELS 225 Christian Spirituality II (Cr. 2)

This course presents the spirituality of Sts. Ephraim, Augustine, and Ignatius Loyola. Methods of prayer are particularly developed and attention is paid to renewal of the spiritual life.

RELS 226 Arab Christian Patristic (Cr. 2)

The course presents the rich heritage of Arab Christian literature, which began in the eighth century in Palestine. It reflects on the process of Arabization of theology in the Muslim context and reviews several of the original theological compositions that were written in Arabic.

RELS 227 The Holy Land (Cr. 3)

This course enables the students to know the holy places in connection with the Bible in order to include this experience in their lives and in their religious teaching. This course includes an introduction to the spirituality of the Holy Land (nature, dimension, and method of visit), and excursions to the holy places (primarily Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and the Galilee).

RELS 272 Christian Social Teaching (Cr. 1)

The course provides a basic introduction to Christian social ethics, with particular emphasis given to issues of faith, peace, and justice. Attention is given to significant social encyclicals.

RELS 274 Curriculum Formation (Cr. 2)

This course develops the skills of the students to form curricula for catechesis in schools and parishes. General and specific educational goals and how to achieve them practically are noted.

RELS 275 Leadership and Ministry in Church (Cr. 2)

This course presents and discusses leadership theories, helping the participants to develop their leadership abilities through study topics, such as vision, goals, planning, organizing, performing, assessing, etc.

RELS 300 Cultural Religious Studies (Cr. 3)

This is a University-required course taken by students in their fourth year. It focuses on the three major religions in the area: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It presents their history, beliefs, moral precepts, feasts, and rituals in view of reaching a deeper and unbiased appreciation of their roles in contemporary society.

RELS 301 The Johannine Writings (Cr. 3)

The course involves a careful reading of John’s Gospel and assesses the contribution of the Fourth Gospel to the development of Christian thought. It examines the Johannine Letters and the Book of Revelation with special attention to the teachings of these works and the contexts in which they were composed.

RELS 302 Islam: Faith and Practice (Cr. 2)

This course develops students’ understanding of religion and their experience of the study of religion with reference to Islam. It helps students to explore the dimensions of Islam, especially the ritual and ethical dimension, to study and evaluate important Islamic texts, and to understand Islam as a contemporary and historic phenomenon.

RELS 304 Church History II (East & West from 1500 until Today) (Cr. 2)

This course addresses the major historical and theological questions raised by certain periods after the Reformation. It provides a framework of information about the events, personalities, and movements associated with Christian theology in those periods, and it promotes a critical knowledge of the literature available on the relationship between Christian thought and practice, as well as the secular history of the period.

RELS 305 St. Paul’s Writings (Cr. 3)

The course promotes an understanding of the contribution of Paul to Christianity. It enables students to appreciate the nature of Paul’s sense of his apostolic authority, and to evaluate the significance of the epistolary communication between Paul and the recipients of the letters.

RELS 306 Judaism: Faith & Practice (Cr. 2)

This course introduces the student to the world of Judaism as both religion and history. The first half of the course helps the student understand the historical development of Judaism from the Biblical period to the present day. The second half of the course focuses on basic issues in Jewish religious faith and practice as well as contemporary questions of identity and culture.

RELS 307 Ethics II: Special Problems (Cr. 2)

This course presents special contemporary social ethical problems. It explains the Church’s social teaching and its theoretical, historical, and practical dimensions; its characteristics; and its identity. It helps students deal with the Church’s teaching on complex questions: society, human rights, social justice, right of ownership, state and authority, its rights and obligations, and concepts of war and peace. At the end it gives an idea about the three theological virtues.

RELS 308 Catechetics and New Testament (Cr. 3)

This course shows the power and difficulties of Jesus, Paul, John, and others as religious educators. It focuses on their ways of teaching and acting with various groups of different backgrounds and hopes, dealing with issues of faith and reason, methods of interpretation, respect for authentic traditions, and community building.

RELS 311 The Education Triangle: The Parish, the Family, and the School (Cr. 3)

This course deepens religious education in the three basic areas of Christian life: the parish, the family, and the school. It studies the capabilities of each of these areas, and defines their specifications, limits, and how they complement one another by working together in coordination. It also aims to research other areas of religious education, such as Sunday schools, associations, and movements.

RELS 312 The Religious Educator (Cr. 3)

This course demonstrates the role of the Church as a whole in the process of religious education, and clarifies the various roles of those concerned: bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and lay people. It concentrates especially on religious educators: their identity, qualifications, spirituality, and role in the Church. This course enables educators to perceive themselves in their specific roles and missions in the Church and the community. It also develops their human, spiritual, and ecclesial character so they can take greater responsibility in this vital area as teachers, educators, and witnesses.

RELS 333 Teaching Liturgy (Cr. 3)

This course begins with an introduction to the nature of liturgy and its place in God’s plan for human salvation. Attention is given to celebrating the sacraments, according to the positions of the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches.

RELS 373 Supervised Teaching (Cr. 1)

Each student is expected to teach several topics to a class under the supervision of the teacher.

RELS 380: Religious Education and Different Stages of Life (Cr. 3)

This course studies development theory. It focuses on the human development (physical, mental, emotional, social, and moral) characterized in the different stages of life (childhood in its different stages, pre-adolescence, adolescence, and adult). It analyses the religious expressions’ elements throughout the various stages. Observations inside classrooms compose one third of this course. Students are asked to execute work, practically in any school, to know the development character of the students in their different stage of life.

RELS 401 Christology (Cr. 4)

This course presents the history of Christian understanding of Christ, through the issues underlying the major Christological councils down to the problems and insights of contemporary Christology. It helps students to be aware of the diversity of opinion in contemporary Christologies against the background of the authoritative positions on Christ taken by the Church. It helps the student to develop tools of analysis for evaluating different approaches to Christ, and to explore aspects of contemporary and traditional Christologies that relate to personal and social experience.

RELS 403 Selected Topics (Cr. 3)

Major students are required to do a dissertation in their fourth year. A student pursues a topic in Religious Studies under guided supervision. Evaluation is based on a study of 5,000 words. The precise area to be investigated is decided in consultation between the student and an appropriate tutor.

RELS 405 Foundations in Pastoral Theology (Cr. 2)

The course introduces students to the basic theory, principles and attitudes necessary for effective pastoral ministry. By the conclusion of the course, students have a knowledge and understanding of pastoral ministry within an appropriate theological framework: how social, economic, and cultural factors affect the practice of ministry; the relationships between pastoral ministry and issues of social justice; and recent literature on the subject.

RELS 406 The Church (Cr. 3)

This course explores the various stages of the self-understanding of the Christian Church, as expressed by the different churches that we know today. It helps the student to reflect critically on the relation between Christ and the Church, which He has sent into the world to preach and witness to the Kingdom of God. The course presents, from an ecumenical perspective, selected issues of ecclesiology that have a strong influence on the modern world and contemporary regional society. The course is concerned with local, regional, and international initiatives and commitments in the ecumenical movement.

RELS 408 The Content of the Religious Education (Cr. 3)

This course studies the religious curriculum (subjects, methods, and goals) that are available, for example, Ministry of Education books, the various churches’ books, and other curriculum in the Middle East. It focuses on the basic dimensions of the religious education: doctrine, liturgy, and culture, on the basis of the official curriculum.

Bethlehem University Foundation
Email: brds@bufusa.org
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
E-mail: info@bethlehem.edu
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine