Religion in

REL 231.001
Religious Existentialism

Scene from famous film
The Seventh Seal


Dr. Tim Murphy

Office: 209 Manly Hall
Office Phone: 348-8513
Office Hours: to be posted
Course: TR 3:30-4:45
Course Number: 48448
Location: 207 Manly Hall


About Online Readings

The online readings for this course are posted in the form of PDF files (Portable Document Format), stored on the Department's "secure" server, and are therefore not freely available on the Internet.

To open these files you must click on the above links and, if prompted, enter your Bama ID and Password.

If you have forgotten your Bama ID, but know your Campus Wide ID (CWID), then please go here. If you still have difficulty accessing these readings, then contact the instructor by email.

Those who need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0 to open PDFs (a free software available on the web and which is already installed on all campus computers) can go here.

Note: larger PDFs can take a long time to download (due to a slow Internet connection) and a long time to print (depending on your printer). Some students may therefore wish to download these files in a computer lab on campus, and then either print them there or store them on a floppy disk or zip/junk drive (to read/print them later at home).

The Denial of Death


This course is a survey of a very influential school of modern, Western religious thought, viz. religious existentialism.  We will review the major texts, authors, and themes of this eclectic movement.  Existentialists ask questions such as: What is the meaning of existence?  What is the meaning of my existence?  How is that related to traditional faith?  What does it mean to exist authentically?  Inauthentically?  Is faith in God authentic or inauthentic?  Does authentic existence necessarily entail some kind of absolute foundation?  How can such a foundation be known by limited humans?  What kind of relationships can humans form between each other?  What demands does the Other make upon me just by being other?  Authors we read will include: Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Elie Wiesel, Martin Buber, Paul Tillich and James Baldwin.  We will also view the classic film, The Seventh Seal and briefly explore the connection between jazz, the blues, and existentialism.


Fall 2009 Syllabus

Books (required)

Kierkegaard, Soren
Fear and Trembling
Penguin Group USA Inc, 1986
ISBN: 9780140444490

Buber, Martin
I And Thou
Simon & Schuster, 1971
ISBN: 9780684717258

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Notes From the Underground,
ISBN: 048627053X

Wiesel, Elie.
Town Beyond the Wall

Schocken Books
ISBN: 0805206973

Dostoevsky, Fyodor
The Grand Inquisitor: With Related Chapters from The Brothers Karamazov
Hackett Publ co, Inc 10/93
ISBN: 9780872201934


The Existential Primer


Wikipedia article on Existentialism


Dr. Murphy's rules for expository writing (PDF)

Sample essay (PDF)

What is Existentialism? (PDF)

Who's Who in Existentialism (PDF)


Systematic Theology by Paul Tillich (PDF)

Woman as Other by Simone de Beauvoir (PDF)

Introduction, Preface, and "Agony" by Miguel de Unamuno

"The Pretense of Social Christianity" and "Absolute Individualism" by Miguel de Unamuno

Parables and Paradoxes by Franz Kafka (PDF)

Escape from Freedom - Fromm (PDF)

The Denial of Death (PDF)