The Catholic Church’s Second Vatican Council Document, Nostra Aetate, tells us that people look to their religious traditions for answers to the most profound questions of human life:
“What is humanity? What is the meaning, the aim of our life? What is moral good, what sin? Whence suffering and what purpose does it serve? Which is the road to true happiness? What are death, judgment and retribution after death? What, finally, is that ultimate inexpressible mystery which encompasses our existence: whence do we come, and where are we going?” (NA1).
To study different religions, one’s own and those of others, is to attain a window on the deepest cares, hopes, aspirations, and anxieties of one’s fellow human beings across time and culture. It is to begin to grasp the complexities and subtleties of human culture where religious questions are always tied in with philosophical, political, aesthetic, economic, and ethical concerns.
The religion major at Seton Hall helps students to grasp this complexity by providing courses in four areas of study: (1) Biblical Studies and Sacred Texts; (2) Christian Traditions; (3) Comparative Religion; (4) Religious and Social Ethics. These courses range from general introductory level courses, such as Religions of the World, to specialized courses at the advanced levels such as Introduction to Ecumenism, Race, Politics and Theology, Religion and Power in South Asia, and Women and Gender in Islam.
The Department of Religion houses scholars in Christian scriptures, history, ethics, and theology, in Asian and South Asian religion (i.e., Buddhism, Hinduism), in Judaism, and Islam. Faculty in the Department of Religion introduce students to sophisticated ways of reading texts and thinking about the beliefs and practices of religious traditions in relation to specific cultural and historical contexts, philosophical questions, aesthetic expression, theological teachings, and contemporary ethical/political concerns. Small class sizes means that students will have substantial interaction with their professors. The national Religious Studies Honor Society is available for students who meet the necessary requirements.
The Department of Religion is proud to announce that as of Fall 2010 it will also be offering a Master of Arts degree in Jewish-Christian Studies. The Institute of Jewish-Christian Studies has a proud history of educating students at Seton Hall in the history, theology, ethics, ritual, languages, and scriptures of the Jewish and Christian faith traditions.