Encountering Religion in Its Global Context: An Introduction
The format of this course is lecture and discussion. The usual enrollment in each section is 20 to 25 students. The course includes brief introductions to four or five major religious traditions, while exploring concepts and categories used in the study of religion, such as sacredness, myth, ritual, religious experience and social dimensions of religion. Traditions such as Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism and Native American traditions are presented through their classic scriptures and traditional practices. Readings vary among sections but typically include important primary sources on Hindu thought and practice (e.g., the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-gita), Buddhist thought and practice (The Questions of King Milinda, The Heart Sutra), Jewish life and thought (selections from the Hebrew Bible, The Sayings of the Fathers), Christian origins (one or more Gospels, selected Pauline letters), Islam (selections from the Qur'an and Sufi mystical poetry), Confucianism (the Analects), Taoism (the Tao Te Ching) and modern expressions of religion (e.g., Martin Buber's I and Thou). Many of the primary sources are studied in conjunction with relevant secondary sources (e.g., Rudolf Otto's The Idea of the Holy, important articles by anthropologists of religion). The department of emphasizes writing, and several essays are assigned in this course. The course is open to all students. No prerequisite. Offered fall and spring.