Results tagged “sacred literature” from World Religions

Christianity - Day #2

|

"A true Christian should have but one fear -- lest he or she should not hope enough." - Walter Elliot


The Bible - We will focus more of our attention on the New Testament given the obvious overlap of the material from the Old Testament with what we already discussed during Judaism.

Defining terms: Old Testament, New Testament, gospels, synoptic

Things to consider:

  • How did the New Testament widen the gap with Judaism? (Consider more than just the story of Jesus and his life.)
  • Does it matter where the various gospels were written? Why or why not?
  • How does the fact that the gospels were written decades or longer after the events influence the interpretation of those events?

Nicean Creed: The Roman Emperor Constantine, who legalized Christianity in the Empire, called together the Council of Nicea to decide issues of Christianity. The Creed that emerged forms the basis of the interpretation of Christian belief. A modern wording is reprinted below.

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father.

Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son].
With the Father and the Son
he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

Branches of Christianity

Although there are literally thousands of denominations within the Christian family, there are generally considered to be three major branches: Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant. We will look at the major differences among the three.

Relevant pages from The World's Religions:

  • Roman Catholicism- pp. 346-352
  • Eastern Orthodoxy- pp. 352-356
  • Protestantism- pp. 356-362
Download the Branches of Christianity matrix to guide your work.


Distinctive Christian Tenets:

Defining terms: Trinity, atonement, incarnation, Nicean Creed

Huston Smith describes these three unique tenets of Christianity in some detail.

DO THIS: Each of you will choose one of the three tenets and read what Smith has to say about it. We will discuss those ideas together as a group.

  • Trinity: Check out Smith (pp. 344-346)
  • Atonement: Check out Smith (pp. 343-344)
  • Incarnation: Check out Smith (pp. 340-343)

HOMEWORK for Christianity - Day #3

You should begin reading the Christianity chapter in Huston Smith's The World's Religions.

T
he Judaism Blog Entry and Buddhism Short Essay questions are now past due.

There are links to all other course assignments at the "top" of the blog.

 



Day #6 - Introduction to Religion

|
REMINDER: We'll be in the library today helping manage the Lower School voting for the MPA Mock Presidential Election.

We'll use our time today and tomorrow to wrap up our introductory look at religion. Today, our focus will be on sacred literature. Tomorrow, we'll turn our attention to "alternatives to religion." After that, we'll tackle Hinduism as our first specific faith.

REMINDERS: Your Blog Entry #1 is technically due before the start of class tomorrow. (Given that some of you still need the reading, I won't evaluate those until the weekend.) Your first Independent Assignment is due before the start of class on Tuesday, November 13th. (You can access that over to the right under the "Speaking of Faith" link under "Independent Assignments.)

Here are the readings for today:

  • "Holy Missteps"
  • "The Muslim Stereotype"
  • "University Installs Footbaths to Benefit Muslims, and Not Everyone is Pleased"
  • "It's a Simple Scarf, but Its Meaning is Much More Than Faith"
  • "6 Imams Removed From Flight for Behavior Deemed Suspicious"
  • "The Separation of Church and Job"

Sacred Time and Place: Many of you might find this site interesting. Please bookmark two of the photos you find particularly meaningful or interesting from Sacred Sites, which features the work of photographer Martin Gray. Let's see what you've found tomorrow.


Creation Stories:

You will next look at some examples of creation stories for various religions. One of the purposes of sacred literature is to explain notions of "origin" and creation. Take a packet and work in a group of two or three students. Each group should select four stories and the Judeo-Christian story found in Genesis 1 and 2. Read the selections and jot down answers to the following questions. Your group should be prepared to show evidence of this work tomorrow.

  • According to each passage, how did creation happen?

  • Based on these accounts, what general conclusions can be drawn about each religion's view on the role and meaning of human life?

  • How are the views of creation in the passages similar? How are they different? Do they imply different views of the purpose and role of humans in the universe?


If you have time remaining today, take a look at World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts. Pick a couple issues and see what various works of sacred literature have to say on the subjects.

Others of you might be more interested in this. It is a site comprised of texts from various faiths.

If you are interested in comparing various "editions" of a work of sacred literature, in this case the Christian Bible, try this site.


Fun Site for the Day: BeliefNet has a lot of resources related to religion. It's not the most academic site in the world, but it has some fun stuff. Here's Belief-O-Matic's quiz, "What's your faith?" No, it's not intended to convert, but rather to match your answers to 20 questions against the "typical" answers from different religions. Take it if you'd like, but take it with a grain of salt...


HOMEWORK for Day #7 - Introduction to Religion

We'll turn our attention to issues related to the "alternatives to religion" and the rise of what many are calling "new atheism." Please read the articles assigned for Day #7 in the reading packet.


Day #5 - Introduction to Religion

|
We'll use today's lesson and the next two sessions this week to wrap up our introductory look at religion. After that, we'll tackle Hinduism as our first specific faith beginning Thursday. 

REMINDERS: You have Blog Entry #1 due on Wednesday. Your first Independent Assignment ("Speaking of Faith" - podcasts) will be due to be posted before the start of class on Tuesday, November 13th.

Here are the readings for today:

  • "Our Fight is Righteous"
  • "Religion in World Affairs: Its Role in Conflict and Peace"
  • "Religion Journal: Shrines Serve the Need for Healing in Public Spaces"
  • "Adam and Eve in the Land of the Dinosaurs"
  • "Beliefs; In four pages, Al Franken ranks world religions and explains the thousand faces of God"
  • "Summer Movies; God: Still Ready for His Close-Up"

Stereotypes and Prejudice in Religion: We'll start with a quiz here...

Stereotypes:
  • What is a stereotype? What are the various types of stereotypes?
  • Why do we stereotype?
  • Is stereotyping always a bad thing?
  • How do we best manage our tendency to stereotype?
Prejudice:
  • What is prejudice?
  • Why does prejudice exist? Is it inevitable?
  • What are the five levels of prejudice?

Small-group Discussion- If time permits, I'll ask you to work in groups of three or four for this short discussion. Get together and discuss these questions to bring back to the large group. We'll take a good ten minutes, maybe fifteen for this. At least one person should serve as a "recorder" for the group. We may not get back to the "big group" until tomorrow. 

  • Is religion a less powerful force today than it has been in the past? If so, why do you think it has declined in importance? If not, why has it remained strong? Be specific.

  • On balance, is religion more a force of unity or division in today's world? Why?
  • Do you think religion will ever become obsolete? Could human society and culture exist in a world without religion? Why or why not?



HOMEWORK for Day #6 - Introduction to Religion

We'll turn our attention to issues related to the roles stereotyping and prejudice can play in looking at religion. Please read the articles assigned for Day #6 in the reading packet.

Remember that Blog Entry #1 is due on Wednesday. It's on the introduction and first chapter from Huston Smith's The World's Religions.



Day #6 - Introduction to Religion

|
We'll use today and Friday to wrap up our introductory look at religion. Today, our foci will be on stereotypes/prejudice and sacred literature. Next, we'll turn our attention to "alternatives to religion." After that, we'll tackle Hinduism as our first specific faith.

REMINDERS: Your Blog Entry #1 is due by the end of this week. Your first Independent Assignment is due to be posted by the start of class on Thursday, February 10th.

Here are the readings for today:

  • "Holy Missteps"
  • "The Muslim Stereotype"
  • "University Installs Footbaths to Benefit Muslims, and Not Everyone is Pleased"
  • "It's a Simple Scarf, but Its Meaning is Much More Than Faith"
  • "6 Imams Removed From Flight for Behavior Deemed Suspicious"
  • "The Separation of Church and Job"

Sacred Time and Place: At the end of our last session, you were asked to bookmark two of the photos you find particularly meaningful or interesting from Sacred Sites, which features the work of photographer Martin Gray. Let's see what you've found.

Small-group Discussion- At the end of yesterday's class you were also asked to form a small group and consider these issues. At least one person should have served as a "recorder" for the group. 

  • Is religion a less powerful force today than it has been in the past? If so, why do you think it has declined in importance? If not, why has it remained strong? Be specific.

  • On balance, is religion more a force of unity or division in today's world? Why?

  • Do you think religion will ever become obsolete? Could human society and culture exist in a world without religion? Why or why not?

Stereotypes and Prejudice in Religion:
We'll start with a quiz here... Then, we'll try to make sense of these two concepts.

Stereotypes:
  • What is a stereotype? What are the various types of stereotypes?
  • Why do we stereotype?
  • Is stereotyping always a bad thing?
  • How do we best manage our tendency to stereotype?
Prejudice:
  • What is prejudice?
  • Why does prejudice exist? Is it inevitable?
  • What are the five levels of prejudice?

Sacred Literature:
After a few introductory comments, we'll  return to a work of sacred scripture, the Tao Te Ching (or Dao De Ching). Next, we'll consider the role of creation stories around the world.

Tao Te Ching:
The Tao Te Ching is the sacred literature of Taoism. There are different speculations about it authorship, yet it is the second most widely translated "book" in the world, following only the Bible. The Tao Te Ching is composed of 81 very short "chapters" or verses. There are a series of them. Spend perhaps ten minutes passing them around and reading/ discussing them. Try to come up with any generalizations or insights that you can regarding the work and its meaning. (NOTE: We did this part last time...)

Check this site for more information on the Tao Te Ching. Compare several of the translations and consider the issues raised by different translations.

Creation Stories:
You will next look at some examples of creation stories for various religions. One of the purposes of sacred literature is to explain notions of "origin" and creation. Take a packet and work in a group of two or three students. Each group should select four stories and the Judeo-Christian story found in Genesis 1 and 2. Read the selections and jot down answers to the following questions. Your group should be prepared to show evidence of this work next time.

* According to each passage, how did creation happen?

* Based on these accounts, what general conclusions can be drawn about each religion's view on the role and meaning of human life?

* How are the views of creation in the passages similar? How are they different? Do they imply different views of the purpose and role of humans in the universe?

If you have time remaining today, take a look at World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts. Pick a couple issues and see what various works of sacred literature have to say on the subjects.

Others of you might be more interested in this. It is a site comprised of texts from various faiths.

If you are interested in comparing various "editions" of a work of sacred literature, in this case the Christian Bible, try this site.


Fun Site for the Day: BeliefNet has a lot of resources related to religion. It's not the most academic site in the world, but it has some fun stuff. Here's Belief-O-Matic's quiz, "What's your faith?" No, it's not intended to convert, but rather to match your answers to 20 questions against the "typical" answers from different religions. Take it if you'd like, but take it with a grain of salt...


HOMEWORK for Day #7 - Introduction to Religion

We'll turn our attention to issues related to the "alternatives to religion" and the rise of what many are calling "new atheism." Please read the articles assigned for Day #7 in the reading packet.

Judaism - Day #3

|
No, I don't know why the font size is going crazy here...

"What makes this night different from all other nights?" - traditional Passover Seder question

Sacred Literature and the Life Cycle You should continue your reading in the Judaism chapter in Huston Smith's The World's Religions. Try and be through it by the end of this week.


Sacred Literature

Defining terms: Torah, Five Books of Moses, Tanakh, Talmud

Torah: "Teachings"- This is sometimes known as the Five Books of Moses. Browse through the Torah a bit. Try to find at least two sections or stories with which you are familiar.

Tanakh: The Tanakh consists of the Torah, the works of the Prophets, and the writings.

Neviim: The works of the prophets.
Ketuvim: These are known as the "writings."

Talmud: The Talmud has been described as a "virtual encyclopedia" of Jewish knowledge. It consists of more than 15,000 pages in its 63 volumes. These "teachings" were collected over a period of approximately four centuries. You can see an example of a page from the Talmud. This page is interactive, and you can examine what different sections represent. Browse this page to see how the Talmud works.


The Mitzvot
(Commandments): Central to Jewish life is the concept of the mitzvot (or commandment). As part of their covenant with God, Jews will adhere to these commandments. (Of course, exactly how that is done differs from branch to branch and family to family. Some interpret the commandments more liberally than others in the face of technology and other demands of modernity. Some of the mitzvot are physically impossible to observe given events such as the destruction of the Temple.)

Defining terms: covenant, mitzvot

There are, of course, Ten Commandments which are more familiar than the others. Actually, 613 mitzvot have been identified in the Torah. DO THIS: Refer to the list of 613 mitzvot. Count how many of them you have broken. (Just kidding...) Instead, note the way they are grouped. Focus on a least one example from each "grouping". Think about ways they might be observed today, and how those observances may have changed over time.


The Jewish Life-Cycle:
Most of you are no doubt familiar with many of the transitional rituals and life stages of Judaism. As with other religions, these traditions are observed in various ways and to various degrees within the Jewish faith. What we describe for Orthodox Jews may not hold for Reform and/or Conservative Jews, and vice versa. DO THIS: You and a partner or two will look into one of the life stages below. Be prepared to report back to the group with key information. (Each group is linked to the appropriate section from the Jewish Virtual Library web site.) You decide what to stress, but keep our earlier focus on symbols, rituals, and sacred expression in mind.

Use any remaining time to continue your group's work on their "piece" for our Jewish history timeline.


Jewish Worship- The Symbols

Defining terms: tefillin, tallit, kippah (yarmukle), mezuzah, menorah, Magen David

This website introduces the role various symbols play in Jewish worship and spirituality.


HOMEWORK for Judaism - Day #3

Your Buddhism Short Essays are due today.

Please continue in your reading with the Judaism chapter in Huston Smith's The World's Religions. You should be through the chapter by Friday's class.

Your third Independent Assignment, Taking a Position, is due to be posted by Tuesday, December 15th

Day #7 - Introduction to Religion

|
This will be the final day of our introductory unit. We'll start with Hinduism tomorrow. Remember that there is a Reading Schedule that you should be following. Get started on the Hinduism chapter tonight if you can.

I'll again link Belief-O-Matic's quiz, "What's your faith?" since I didn't mention it yesterday. No, it's not intended to convert, but rather to match your answers to 20 questions against the "typical" answers from different religions. You might find it interesting and/or entertaining to try at some point.

We'll start off today talking about the final set of readings from the introductory packet.

These were the articles for today:
  • "Books on Atheism Are Raising Hackles in Unlikely Places"
  • "A Modest Proposal for a Truce on Religion"
  • "When Atheists Have Their Say"
  • "Taking the Debate About God Online, and Battling It Out With Videos"
  • "Brawl Over Islam on Facebook"
Sacred Literature: We'll do two quick exercises here. First, we'll look at some of those excerpts from the Tao Te Ching. You were asked to take a look at some of the creation stories from the packet you were given. Let's hear what you found.


Questions to consider:

  • According to each passage, how did creation happen?
  • Based on these accounts, what general conclusions can be drawn about each religion's view on the role and meaning of human life?
  • How are the views of creation in the passages similar? How are they different? Do they imply different views of the purpose and role of humans in the universe?

Sacred Literature links: We'll obviously do more with the sacred literature of specific faiths. Here are a couple of more general links that we didn't get to last time.

You might also want to take a look at World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts. Pick a couple issues and see what various works of sacred literature have to say on the subjects.

Others of you might be more interested in this. It is a site comprised of texts from various faiths.

If you are interested in comparing various "editions" of a work of sacred literature, in this case the Christian Bible, try this site.


Alternatives to Religion: Some of you may disagree, but it seems reasonable to me to look a bit at some of the alternatives to religious faith in a class about religion. You were asked to consider these two questions in preparation for today.

  • Is religion a less powerful force today than it has been in the past? If so, why do you think it has declined in importance? If not, why has it remained strong? Be specific.

  • Do you think religion will ever become obsolete? Could human society and culture exist in a world without religion? Why or why not?
We'll build from here to do two things. First, we'll consider several terms used to describe those with varying attitudes toward religion and religious belief. Next, we'll think about non-religious activities that serve to fulfill some of the same functions that religion attempts to fill.


Discussion - The New Atheism: Within the past few years, a number of widely-read critiques of religion have emerged from a group of what are frequently referred to as the "new atheists." It's worth our time to take a look at some of what they have to say. Rather than be too prescriptive, I'm going to give you a number of resources to take a look at, and then we'll discuss what you've found.


HOMEWORK for Day #1 - Hinduism

We'll turn our attention to the religion of Hinduism for the next six sessions. You'll be expected to read in Huston Smith's The World Religions according to the schedule posted on the Reading Schedule - The World's Religions page. You'll also be expected to make a blog entry for this chapter after that is posted.

You should read Chapter 2, "Hinduism" (pp. 12 - 26).
Blog Entry #2 - Hinduism needs to be posted by Wednesday, November 18th.

Your first independent assignment is due Monday, November 16th. More specific information is available on the "pages" listed to the right on the blog itself.

Day #5 - Introduction to Religion

|
We'll use today's lesson and our two sessions next week to wrap up our introductory look at religion. After that, we'll tackle Hinduism as our first specific faith beginning on Thursday. 

REMINDERS: You have Blog Entry #1 due before the start of class on Tuesday. Your first Independent Assignment ("Speaking of Faith" - podcasts) is due to be posted before the start of class on Monday, November 16th.

Here are the readings for today:

  • "Our Fight is Righteous"
  • "Religion in World Affairs: Its Role in Conflict and Peace"
  • "Religion Journal: Shrines Serve the Need for Healing in Public Spaces"
  • "Adam and Eve in the Land of the Dinosaurs"
  • "Beliefs; In four pages, Al Franken ranks world religions and explains the thousand faces of God"
  • "Summer Movies; God: Still Ready for His Close-Up"

Religion Scholars:  I gave you the little slips of paper pertaining to one of seven scholars of religion as you left last time. Let's hear just a bit about each of these folks and how they have influenced the study of religion.

  • Emile  Durkheim
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Rudolf Otto
  • Mircea Eliade
  • Wilfred Cantwell Smith
  • Karen Armstrong
  • Diana Eck
Sacred LiteratureWe'll do several brief exercises related to sacred literature over the next few days. After a few introductory comments, we'll look today at one example of a work of sacred scripture, the Tao Te Ching (of Dao De Ching). Next lesson, we'll consider the role of creation stories around the world.

Sacred Time and Place:
 We've touched on these issues in both our discussion of ritual and of the religion in general. Sacred Sites features the work of photographer Martin Gray, who has spent more than 25 years photographing sacred sites around the world. DO THIS: Browse through the collection, focusing on sites important to Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as anything else that interests you. Be sure to read the descriptions found beneath some of the photos. Bookmark two of the photos you find particularly meaningful or interesting. We'll share them next session.

Small-group Discussion
- If time permits, I'll ask you to work in groups of three or four for this short discussion. Get together and discuss these questions to bring back to the large group. We'll take a good ten minutes, maybe fifteen for this. At least one person should serve as a "recorder" for the group. We may not get back to the "big group" until tomorrow. 

  • Is religion a less powerful force today than it has been in the past? If so, why do you think it has declined in importance? If not, why has it remained strong? Be specific.

  • On balance, is religion more a force of unity or division in today's world? Why?
  • Do you think religion will ever become obsolete? Could human society and culture exist in a world without religion? Why or why not?

HOMEWORK for Day #6 - Introduction to Religion

We'll turn our attention to issues related to the roles stereotyping and prejudice can play in looking at religion. Please read the articles assigned for Day #6 in the reading packet.

Remember that Blog Entry #1 is due before the start of the class tomorrow. It's on the introduction and first chapter from Huston Smith's The World's Religions.
Your first Independent Assignment (Speaking of Faith - podcasts) is due to be posted before class begins on Monday, November 16th.


Christianity - Day #2

|

"A true Christian should have but one fear -- lest he or she should not hope enough." - Walter Elliot

Some of you might be interested in this History of Religion map from a website called "Maps of War."

Others of you might want to check out the St. John's Bible site.

 

Sacred Literature

The Bible - We will focus more of our attention on the New Testament given the obvious overlap of the material from the Old Testament with what we already discussed during Judaism.

Defining terms: Old Testament, New Testament, gospels, synoptic

Things to consider:

  • How did the New Testament widen the gap with Judaism? (Consider more than just the story of Jesus and his life.)
  • Does it matter where the various gospels were written? Why or why not?
  • How does the fact that the gospels were written decades or longer after the events influence the interpretation of those events?

 

Comparing Gospel accounts: There are four gospel accounts which are generally considered to be the "canon". They are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There are differences in the styles, emphases, and dates of compilation for the four.

DO THIS: You can find a handy on-line version of the gospels here. Choose several sections or particular events from the life of Jesus and compare them. I'd suggest looking at the beginnings, the discussion of (or lack of discussion of) miracle stories, and the events leading up to and including the resurrection account. See what conclusions you can draw from these comparisons.


Comparing versions of the Bible: The Christian Bible is the most widely translated book in the world. Many different versions have been compiled over the centuries. Two of the most widely known are the King James Version and the Revised Standard Version.

DO THIS: Compare these two versions. (You can also go here for the RSV version.) Select a particular section and look at the differences and similarities. You might consider the account of Genesis, the Gospels, or the letters of Paul.

"Bible Basics" describes various interpretations of the Bible. You can read around the origins of each and a description of their "intended" audience. Check out the five (I count four) versions of Corinthians 1:13 in the "quote box" on the right.

Here is a tongue-in-cheek quiz which attempts to "match" you with the Biblical character you are most similar to in your interests and preferences.


Nicean Creed: The Roman Emperor Constantine, who legalized Christianity in the Empire, called together the Council of Nicea to decide issues of Christinaity. The Creed that emerged forms the basis of the interpretation of Christian belief. A modern wording is reprinted below.

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father.

Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son].
With the Father and the Son
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. AMEN.


Distinctive Christian Tenets:

Defining terms: Trinity, atonement, incarnation, Nicean Creed

Huston Smith describes these three unique tenets of Christianity in some detail.

DO THIS: Each of you will choose one of the three tenets and read what Smith has to say about it. We will discuss those ideas together as a group next time.

  • Trinity: Check out Smith (pp. 344-346)
  • Atonement: Check out Smith (pp. 343-344)
  • Incarnation: Check out Smith (pp. 340-343)


HOMEWORK for Christianity - Day #3

Your short essays on Judaism are due on Tuesday, November 25th.

Your fifth Independent Assignment is due by the end of Thanksgiving weekend. 

You should begin reading the Christianity chapter in Huston Smith's The World's Religions. I've updated the reading schedule

Judaism - Day #3

|
"What makes this night different from all other nights?" - traditional Passover Seder question

Sacred Literature and the Life Cycle You should continue your reading in the Judaism chapter in Huston Smith's The World's Religions. Try and be through it by the end of this week.

Sacred Literature

Defining terms: Torah, Five Books of Moses, Tanakh, Talmud

Torah: "Teachings"- This is sometimes known as the Five Books of Moses. Browse through the Torah a bit. Try to find at least two sections or stories with which you are familiar.

Tanakh: The Tanakh consists of the Torah, the works of the Prophets, and the writings.

Neviim: The works of the prophets.
Ketuvim: These are known as the "writings."

Talmud: The Talmud has been described as a "virtual encyclopedia" of Jewish knowledge. It consists of more than 15,000 pages in its 63 volumes. These "teachings" were collected over a period of approximately four centuries. You can see an example of a page from the Talmud. This page is interactive, and you can examine what different sections represent. Browse this page to see how the Talmud works.


The Mitzvot
(Commandments): Central to Jewish life is the concept of the mitzvot (or commandment). As part of their covenant with God, Jews will adhere to these commandments. (Of course, exactly how that is done differs from branch to branch and family to family. Some interpret the commandments more liberally than others in the face of technology and other demands of modernity. Some of the mitzvot are physically impossible to observe given events such as the destruction of the Temple.)

Defining terms: covenant, mitzvot

There are, of course, Ten Commandments which are more familiar than the others. Actually, 613 mitzvot have been identified in the Torah. DO THIS: Refer to the list of 613 mitzvot. Count how many of them you have broken. (Just kidding...) Instead, note the way they are grouped. Focus on a least one example from each "grouping". Think about ways they might be observed today, and how those observances may have changed over time.


The Jewish Life-Cycle:
Most of you are no doubt familiar with many of the transitional rituals and life stages of Judaism. As with other religions, these traditions are observed in various ways and to various degrees within the Jewish faith. What we describe for Orthodox Jews may not hold for Reform and/or Conservative Jews, and vice versa. DO THIS: You and a partner or two will look into one of the life stages below. Be prepared to report back to the group with key information. (Each group is linked to the appropriate section from the Jewish Virtual Library web site.) You decide what to stress, but keep our earlier focus on symbols, rituals, and sacred expression in mind.

Use any remaining time to continue your group's work on their "piece" for our Jewish history timeline.


Homework for Judaism - Day #4

Please try to finish up the Judaism chapter in Huston Smith's The World's Religions. According to the reading schedule, you should be through page 315 at our next meeting.

Please read the assigned articles in the "Judaism - Article Packet."

Your Independent Assignment #4 is due on Thursday. (I won't count them late if they are posted later Thursday or even Friday/Saturday. I'll try to get caught up grading Sunday evening, so let's make them late after 6 PM on Sunday.)

I'll post the Blog Entry - Judaism questions yet this week. They'll be due before the beginning of next Thursday's class. (I mean the 13th of November, not the 6th.)