The study of religion is the investigation of the universal human quest for a meaningful existence and experience of transcendence. This involves an examination of the beliefs and practices of the various religions of the world, the individual spiritual journey and the role of religion in society and culture.
What can you do with a religion major? You may head for seminary or a graduate program in religion; be a double major who takes religion as a support for or a compliment to another major; or be a student in the education program who chooses religion as your required academic major.
- Marlin Adrian, Ph.D., M.A. The University of Virginia; M.A. Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary; B.A. University of Kansas
- Richard Vinson, Ph.D. Duke University; M. Dir. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; M.A., B.A. Samford University
When you complete your religion major, you will be able to conduct research in religion and present in both oral and written form the results of your research. This means that you will be able to:
- Critically assess both primary and secondary literature about religion.
- Read religious texts (in translation) and interpret them using critical methods.
- Observe religious rituals and interpret them using critical methods.
- Effectively communicate observations and conclusions.
Religion Major (B.A.)
A major in religion requires a total of nine courses including RELI 310 and 390. At least five of the nine required courses, including RELI 390, must be completed at Salem.
The minor in religion requires the completion of five courses. RELI 270 is excluded. Students must take at least three of the religion courses at Salem.
Religion Courses (RELI)
106. The Religious Dimension One course
An introductory study of the nature of religion through an exploration of the significance of religious myth, symbolism and ritual within life and culture. Fall, alternate years.
110. Introduction to Hebrew Scriptures One course
A historical and literary study of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Introduces students to the content of the scripture and methods of interpretation. Special attention will be given to the portrayal of women in these writings. Fall.
111. Introduction to the New Testament One course
A historical and literary study of the New Testament. Students will examine the New Testament in its historical (Greco-Roman) and religious (Judaism) settings. Special attention is given to the historical Jesus and the role of women in the early Christian movement. Spring
120. Western Religious Traditions One course
An introduction to the three main Western religious traditions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam)and their mutual development. Emphasis is on understanding the rituals, theology, scripture and ethics of each tradition and their contributions to western culture.
130. Eastern Religious Traditions One course
An introduction to the main Eastern religious traditions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism,Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto and Sikhism). Emphasis is on understanding the beliefs and practices of each tradition as well as relationships between traditions. Special attention is given to the role of women in Eastern religious traditions.
160. The Moravian Experience One course
An introduction to the history, culture, theology and influence of the worldwide Moravian religious tradition, particularly since 1722. Special attention is given to Salem.
200. Independent Study in Religion One-quarter to one course
Independent study under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Open to students with a 2.0 cumulative average and permission of the chair of department. Independent study may take the form of readings, research, conference, projects and/or field experience. Independent study maybe taken for a total of four courses, no more than two in any term. Prerequisite: At least one RELI course and permission of the department.
202. Christianity: The Way of the Cross One course
An examination of the diversity and unity of 2,000 years of Christian history with special attention to the worldwide spread and theological development of the church. Prerequisite: RELI111 or 120, or permission of instructor.
205. Biblical Topics One course
Focus on a single topic pertaining to either or both the Old and New Testaments; for example:the parables of Jesus, ancient and modern interpretations of Job, Biblical mythology, the prophetic movement, the Theology of Paul and the book of Revelation. May be taken more than once with a different topic. Prerequisite: RELI 110 or 111 or equivalent.
220. Special Topics in Religion One course
Focus on a particular topic in the study of religion; for example: Native American religions,African religious traditions, women in the Christian tradition, history of Christian thought, feminist theology, theories of religion.
221. Islam: The Straight Path One course
A study of the origins of Islam in Arabia and its spread throughout the world. Special attention is given to the relationship between religion and politics in Islam, the recent resurgence of Islam and the issues of gender and social change. Prerequisite: RELI 120 or permission of the instructor.
231. Buddhism: The Middle Path One course
A study of the origins of Buddhism in India and its spread throughout the world. The emphasis on Buddhism’s many diverse expressions in China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, Southeast Asia and North America. Special attention is given to the role of women in Buddhism. Prerequisite: RELI130 or permission of the instructor.
240. Religion in America One course
The historical development of the various religions and religious groups in the United States and their impact on American culture and intellectual history. Prerequisite: One course in religion orU.S. history. Spring, alternate years.
255. Women in Ancient Judaism and Hebrew Scriptures One course
A study of texts from the Tanak (Old Testament), non-canonical texts and data from material culture that illuminate women’s lives and conceptions of women in ancient Judaism from the10th century BCE to the 1st century CE. Prerequisite: RELI 110 or 111 or equivalent. Spring,alternate years.
256. Women in the New Testament and Early Christianity One course
A study of texts from the New Testament, non-canonical texts and data from material culture that illuminate women’s lives and conceptions of women in early Christianity and in the Roman Empire in the 1st -3rd centuries of the common era. Prerequisite: RELI 110 or 111 or equivalent.Fall, alternate years.
266. Religion and Ethics One course
An examination of contemporary moral issues from the standpoint of the ethical insights of various religious traditions. The central focus is upon how religious convictions influence moral judgments. Particular attention is paid to issues of concern to women. Prerequisite: One course in religion or permission of instructor. Fall, alternate years.
268. Jesus and the Gospels One course
A study of the historical, social and religious context of Jesus, through analysis of the canonical gospels as well as of the non-canonical writings from the ancient Hellenistic and Jewish worlds.Prerequisite: RELI 110 or 111 or equivalent.
270. Internship in Religion One course
An opportunity to use the knowledge and skills the student has learned in coursework to solve problems in a real work setting; the apprenticeship aspect of the internship implies that the student has some base of knowledge and will increase her knowledge and skills by direct contact with an experienced, knowledgeable mentor. Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors with a 2.0cumulative average; maximum credit per term is one course; admission by application only.
280. Religion and the American South One course
The history, institutions and cultural impact of religion in the American South. Prerequisite: One course in religion or one course in American history.
290. Honors Independent Study in Religion One to two courses
An advanced independent study under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Open to juniors and seniors with a 3.5 average in religion or philosophy, subject to the approval of chair of the department. Honors work may be taken for a maximum of two courses.
302. Philosophy of Religion One course
The main problems of the philosophy of religion (e.g., nature of the religious dimension of life,the problem of evil, justification of faith) as treated in the works of various philosophers. Cross-listed as PHIL 302. Prerequisite: a minimum of one course in religion or philosophy. Fall 2009 and every three years.
310. The Study of Religion One course
A survey of various methodological disciplines used in the study of religion. The goal of this course is to develop an informed and critical perspective on the study of religion through the study of myths, rituals and literature. This course does not promote any single definition of religion or particular methodological approach to the study of religion, but rather encourages participants to develop critical skills necessary for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of a number of scholarly approaches to the subject. Required of all majors. Prerequisite: One 200-level course in religion and permission of the instructor. Fall.
390. Senior Seminar One course
Required of seniors. Advanced religion research project. Spring.
Baptist Hospital Chaplain Services
Dr. Marlin Adrian
What courses do you teach at Salem?
Some of the courses I teach include The Religious Dimension, Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures, Introduction to the New Testament, Western Religious Traditions, Eastern Religious Traditions, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Religion and Ethics, and Women and Religion.
What are your research interests?
My major research interest is religion and popular culture. This includes religious elements in public ritual, literature, film and art. Recently my interest in science fiction has turned toward graphic novels, manga and anime.
What is your advice to prospective religion or philosophy students?
Religion and philosophy remain at the heart of the world around us, often playing a major role in the understanding of our experiences. Majors must possess curiosity, courage, and a vivid imagination in order to attempt to understand the perspectives of persons around the globe who, although raised in very different cultures, often exhibit a keen interest in the very questions we ask ourselves each day. Graduates can choose from a wide variety of paths after graduation. Religion and philosophy majors are the most interesting people at every party they attend.
"Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn't."
~Old Lodegeskins in Little Big Man
"A knower of the Truth travels without leaving a trace, speaks
without causing harm, gives without keeping an account. The door she
shuts, though having no lock, cannot be opened. The knot she ties,
though using no cord, cannot be undone."
~Tao te Ching
Do you have any pets?
I have two pets: Cyrus, a cat of remarkable intelligence and prowess and Charley, the family dog, a graduate of the Guilford County prison program, who has become my personal trainer.