Course Description: An introduction to the study of religion through an examination of the creation of biblical and related texts of ancient Babylon, Israel, and the early Christian movement. Investigate their diverse religious practices and our own assumptions about unfamiliar cultures.
Section Description: It’s one of the most influential books in human history, but what is it? We will explore how the the Jewish and Christian Bibles were produced in the communities of ancient Israel and the Christian movement, as those people grappled with the deepest problems of existence. This course will serve as an introduction to the study of religion through an examination of selected biblical and related texts and the cultures that produced and preserved these texts. Throughout the course, we will ask questions about the nature of religion and about understanding the religious expressions of people of other cultures and historical periods. We will examine the religious beliefs of the peoples of the ancient Babylon, then turn to our major focus on the development of ancient Israel and the emergence of the Christian movement. In looking at each of these closely related yet strikingly diverse religious cultures, we will try to understand how the evidence of their beliefs and practices allows us to construct a picture of what we call religion. In investigating these religious traditions, we will examine how the identity of each community was articulated, especially in terms of boundaries defining insiders and outsiders. We will consider how people engaged religious symbols to organize their societies including aspects of personal identity and social hierarchies. Our investigations will begin with the problem of defining religion and the ways in which our own position in the 21st-century West must be examined so that we can both see very different ways of formulating the nature of reality and refrain from assuming an inherent bias against the past (e.g., as “backward”) or religion (e.g., “as irrational or superstitious”).
|MWF||10:50 - 11:40||481 MAIN ST 104|
Instructor(s): Anne L. Clark
Meeting Dates: 29 Aug 2016 - 09 Dec 2016