In this course we will examine the various ways in which some of world’s religions have transformed over time and responded to new environments, new circumstances, and new challenges. In an effort to better understand these living religious traditions, we will look at their origins and histories, and discuss the figures, beliefs, sacred texts, rituals, stories and historical events which helped to shape their development.
The primary goal of this course will be to introduce students to various living religions around the world. Particular attention will be paid to founding narratives and figures, the histories of religious traditions and their diversification, theological doctrine, mystical traditions, ritual, concepts of life, death and time, and conceptions of the relationship between religion and ethical, social and political life. Students will also be required to understand and encouraged to think through some of the basic methodological and interpretive issues involved in the academic study of religion, especially those surrounding cultural diversity and evaluative judgment.