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Current Academic Year's Courses

center for christian-jewish learning

FALL 2014

Jewish Liturgy: Its History and Theology
Embedded in rabbinic prayer is a concise statement of Jewish theology. After an examination of the precursors of rabbinic prayer and of the development of the synagogue as an institution, this course will examine the structures and ideas of the prayers themselves as they have been received from the medieval world. This will create a context for a deeper discussion of some key Jewish theological concepts as well as a comparison of Jewish and Christian liturgical traditions. (Ruth Langer)

Religious Quest: Comparative Perspectives
This course explores Judaism and Christianity through their points of apparent contact as well as their differences. The fall semester focuses on Exodus and Matthew and their functions as the "master stories" of their communities, shaping self-understanding and ritual lives. (Ruth Langer)

Post World War I Spiritual Recovery in Fascism or Personalism
World War I, which broke out a century ago in 1914, inflicted an atrocious wound on Western Culture. Although most of the war's physical destruction has been repaired, its psychic injury still festers. This course examines a corner stone in the spiritual history of the 20th century. We will study two major routes for recovery from the injuries of World War I: Fascism, which advocated permanent struggle as the meaning of life, and Personalism, which embraced intense human encounter as the road to healing. (James Bernauer, S.J.)

Paranoid Causality: On Anti-Judaism & Anti-Jesuitism
This seminar will explore a worldview that attributed to Jews and/or Jesuits a sort of diabolical causality that explained the twists and turns of history. Both were accused of conspiracies and a hostility toward spirit and both were demonized in infamous documents: "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" for Jews and the "Monita secrets" for Jesuits. This course will investigate the construction of negative views of Jews and Jesuits within modern western culture as well as the desire for and the allure of total explanations for history. (James Bernauer, S.J.)



The Holocaust: A Moral History
The tragic events that ruptured modern western morality will be examined from a variety of perspectives. We shall study the testimony of both its victims and its perpetrators. Special attention will be given to consideration of the intellectual and moral factors which motivated resistance or excused indifference. We shall conclude with interpretations of its meaning for contemporary morality and of its theological significance for Christians and Jews. (James Bernauer, S.J.)

Religious Quest: Comparative Perspectives II, Judaism & Christianity
This course explores Judaism and Christianity through their points of apparent contact as well as their differences. The spring semester delves into the creation narratives of Genesis, studying the two communities; interpretations of the biblical text and how it and its interpretations shape people's lives. It considers such topics as birth and death, marriage and reproductive ethics, ecology, economic justice, and the Sabbath. (Ruth Langer)

Jews and Christians: Understanding the Other
Interreligious dialogue requires interreligious understanding. This course will build a foundation for genuine dialogue between Jews and Christians by positing theological questions in a comparative context. Students will gain an understanding of the other tradition while also deepening their understanding of their own, discussing such matters as the human experience of God, the purpose of human existence, the nature of religious community, and the ways that the communities respond to challenges, both contemporary and ancient. (Ruth Langer)

Writing about Religion
This is a course in the history and practice of journalism and other popular nonfiction about religion. We read articles and books that translate religious ideas for a nonspecialized, often secular audience, and consider how they succeed or fail. Sources include The New Yorker, The Atlantic, documentary films, and books about topics including Scientology, Orthodox Judaism, Roman Catholicism, etc. The course aims to give students a perspective on how the popular press has created the secular encounter with religion; to prepare students to think critically about their own faiths' presentations in the written media; and to prepare them to write well for an irreligious audience. That is, to explain religion to people who may be curious but ignorant, or who may be skeptics. (Mark Oppenheimer)