Randy L. Friedman

Wheaton College

T/Th 12:30 – 1:50



Religion 225:  Philosophy of Religion


This reading-intensive introductory seminar will explore the many philosophical (and some methodological) questions which emerge from a study of religious thought.  Topics will include the nature of religious subjectivity, divinity, prayer, sacrifice, and faith.  We will study some central biblical and non-Western stories and narratives and literary, philosophical, and theological responses to them.  Students will practice techniques of textual exegesis and directly engage texts. 


In addition to the content of this course, students will practice the process skills of reading and writing critically.  Students will be expected to read the texts carefully and to come to class prepared to ask and answer questions. The course will require at least 100 pages of reading each week.



Attendance and Participation (40%):  Classroom discussion of the texts in this type of course is crucial to furthering our understanding of the difficult topics we will explore.  The course will depend on conversation as much as lecturing. Poor attendance and lack of participation are not live options for students in this course.  Students who miss class will be required to submit a 2-3 pages review of the assigned readings for each class missed due before the next class meeting.

Midterm Exam (30%):  A short-essay exam covering  questions from the first half of the course.

Final Exam (30%):  A writing intensive essay covering methodological and interpretive issues drawn from the entire course.  Students will be required to work through identifications as well as offering short critical analyses of texts and theories central to the course.


Required Reading

Emile Durkheim        The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (Oxford) $11

Sigmund Freud         The Future of an Illusion (W.W. Norton) $9

David Hume             Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (Hackett, ISBN: 0872204022) $6

PJ Ivanhoe               Daodejing of Laozi  (Hackett) $13

William James          The Varieties of Religious Experience (Modern Library, ISBN 0679640118 ) $10

Soren Kierkegaard      Fear and Trembling / Repetition (Princeton University Press)  $16

Friedrich Nietzsche    Twilight of the Idols and the Anti Christ.  Viking Press (Penguin Classics) $10


Available on WebCT

Selected essays by Martin Buber, Gabriel Marcel, Paul Tillich, as well as selections from the Book Genesis, the Books of Prophets, and the Book of Job



I.          Introduction

II.         The Study of Religion                        Durkheim

III.        Comparative Religions                       James

IV.        Religion and Self                                    Freud

V.-VI.   God, Design, Reason                         Hume

VII.       The Binding of Isaac                          Genesis 22, Kierkegaard

VIII.      The Lonely Knight of Faith                 Kierkegaard

IX.        Anti-Religion Philosophy                   Nietzsche

X.        Evil and Suffering                             Job

XI.        Responsa, Apologetics                       Jung, Glatzer, Selections (on Job)

XII.       Religion and Prophetic Faith               Isa., Jeremiah, Buber, Tillich (selected readings)

XIII.-     Daodejing