The study of religion at VES, along with our tradition of corporate worship and prayer, challenges our students to search for the ultimate meaning of human existence. Recognizing the strong influence that Christianity has played in the shaping of Western civilization, the religion department has shaped our curriculum to examine the Judeo-Christian theological and ethical traditions that have played a fundamental role in the development of the West. Other belief systems are also examined, as are the roles of reason and philosophy in the life of faith. Though our courses are taught from the standpoint of traditional Christianity, students are encouraged to think for themselves and draw their own conclusions. Students are required to take one term of Introduction to New Testament Studies and can take other courses as electives.

Course Descriptions


Old Testament
This course offers a survey of the major figures, themes, genres, and theological concepts of the Old Testament. Every effort is made to understanding Old Testament texts in their original contexts and then to apply their enduring truths to the experience of modern life.

New Testament
This course surveys the New Testament and the foundational Christian teachings. Old Testament history and themes are introduced as the foundation for understanding the first century world and the writings of the New Testament. Particular attention is paid to the life and teachings of Jesus. Connections are made to the life of the Early Church, the teachings of the Apostles, and traditional Christian beliefs.

World Religions
The goal of this course is to present a survey of the basic tenants, rituals, values, and experiences which define the major religious traditions of our world. The course explores religions from both internal and external perspectives. An "external" perspective reflects those elements of a particular religious tradition which can be interpreted from the outside (historical figures, social changes, and political affinities). An “internal” perspective seeks to explore the ways in which adherents derive meaning from their particular religious tradition, or how their religious tradition answers the big questions of life: Why I am here? What is the good life? What is expected of me? What does the afterlife look like?

Bible in Literature
The myriad ways in which biblical stories are told and retold in literature and culture reflects the profound influence of this sacred text. This course explores goals and rhetorical strategies of authors who reshape this living tradition into something new for their time and season. Care is taken to explore the narratives carefully in their original context, and then as they are applied to new literary contexts. This course operates with an assertion that there are treasures hidden in the original text which can be more brightly illumined when read in the light of a re-reading and/or re-writing. Author's examined include: Byron, Mann, Milton, Shakespeare, and MacLeish.

Tragedy and Comedy in Religion
For as long as the human experience has been marked by moments of sorrow and joy, tragedy and comedy have existed. Because tragedy and comedy touch upon deep questions of meaning, religious texts have readily employed tragic and comic modes to give expression to our hopes and fears, anxieties and joys. The goal of this course is to examine how tragedy and comedy are explored in religious texts and cultural representations of religious ideas. While the Bible serves as the primary religious text, other religious texts and traditions are explored as well.

Elementary Hebrew and Jewish Culture
The goal of this course is to foster appreciation of the ancient Hebrew language and to develop skills on vocabulary, grammar, and translation sufficient to read and enjoy the Old Testament in the original language. Jewish costumes and culture are also be explored as modern expressions of the language and its development.

Contact Religion Department

Adam White - Chaplain
Director of Service Learning
Phone: 434-385-3600

Chad Hanning
Phone: 434-385-3883

Honor. Rigor. Community. Relationships. Individual Attention.

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