Introduction to religion

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Religion 11
Fall 2009
Professor: A. Dole

Office: Chapin 208


Office Hours: Thursday, 1-3PM

Professor: T. Jaffer

Office: Chapin 209


Office Hours: Friday, 11AM - 1PM

Course Description
This course introduces students to the academic and comparative study of religion through critical examination of two major religious traditions, Islam and Christianity. Over the course of the semester we will focus on four areas of investigation clustered around the theme of the relationship between religious piety and learning. Following an introduction to the academic study of religion and brief overviews of our two traditions, the first section of the course will be concerned with the contents and use of scriptures (authoritative texts) within Islam and Christianity. The second section will focus on accounts of spiritual journeys (religious autobiographies) that have been prominent within the two traditions. The third section will examine ways in which adherents of the traditions derive law or ethical precept (guidelines for individual and collective conduct) from traditional resources. And the fourth and final section will examine conceptions of education that have played important roles within the historical lives of the traditions.

With a few exceptions, two class sessions each week will be more lecture-based than discussion-based, and will be dedicated to the comprehension and contextualization of assigned readings. On Fridays the class will meet in smaller groups, each convened by either Prof. Dole or Prof. Jaffer, for discussion of the week’s material.

Requirements and Policies
General: Students are expected to do all of the assigned readings before class, to attend all class meetings and to participate actively in discussion sessions.

Papers and exams: Formal work for the course will consist of one short paper (3-4 pages) due early in the semester; an in-class midterm exam on Oct. 16; a final paper (8-10 pages) due in class on Monday, December 14; and a final examination.

Paper assignments will ask you either to demonstrate an understanding of an assigned text or to examine themes that span multiple texts. Specific guidelines for the writing of academic papers will be distributed in advance of the first assignment.

The midterm and final examination will ask you to demonstrate familiarity with the corpus of assigned reading for the semester, to place important quotes or ideas into their proper historical and conceptual context, and to reflect on questions of importance for the concerns of the course. Examinations will be closed-book.

Evaluations: Students will be required to submit course evaluations at the end of the semester. Students will not be able to access their course grade until an evaluation has been submitted.

Absence policy: Repeated, unexcused absences will result in a final grade penalty of not less than one-third of a letter grade.

Extension policy: Paper extensions are likely to be granted if they are asked for well ahead of time. A good reason must be offered for any request for an extension. No extensions will be granted less than twenty-four hours in advance of a paper deadline except in cases of emergency. Papers received late without an extension will receive a grade penalty.

Grading policy: Final grades for the course will be calculated roughly as follows:

First paper: 15%

Midterm exam: 20%

Final paper: 35%

Final exam: 30%

The following required books are available at Amherst Books (8 Main Street, Amherst):
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

Brian Wilson, Christianity

Jamal Elias, Islam

Sayyid Qutb, Milestones

Roy Mottahedeh, The Mantle of the Prophet
A course packet containing copies of additional required readings is available from the Religion department office in 108 Chapin Hall. Our first readings for the semester will be drawn from the course packet.
Schedule of meetings and assignments

Tuesday, Sept. 8: Introduction to the course
Wednesday, Sept. 9: Studying Religion, 1

Reading: Hume, The Natural History of Religion, pp. 133-144 (packet)

Müller, Chips from a German Workshop, pp. vii–xxxv (packet)

Friday, Sept. 11: Studying Religion, 2

Reading: Berger, The Sacred Canopy, pp. 3-51 (packet)
Monday, Sept. 14: Introduction to Islam

Reading: Elias, Islam, 16-123

Wednesday, Sept. 16: Introduction to Christianity

Reading: Wilson, Christianity, pp. 8-54
Friday, Sept. 18: Discussion

Monday, Sept. 21: The Qur’an: canonization, basic message, codices, variant readings

Reading: Rahman, Major Themes of the Qur’an, xv-xx, 1-16, 80-105, 150-170
Wednesday, Sept. 23: Q. Exegesis (Modern Egypt)

Reading: Qutb [d. 1966], Milestones, pp. 7-76; Qutb [d. 1966], In the Shade of the Qur’an, pp. xvii-xxv, 1-8 (packet); Bonner, Jihad in Islamic History: Doctrines and Practice, 1-19, 157-174 (packet)
Friday, Sept. 25: Discussion; first paper due
Monday, Sept. 28: Q. Exegesis (Medieval Islamic Spain)

Reading: Addas, C., Quest for the Red Sulphur, pp. 27-51, 153-168 (packet); Ibn ‘Arabi [d. 1240], The Bezels of Wisdom, pp. 269-284 (packet)
Wednesday, Sept. 30: Christian scriptures: overview

Reading: Genesis ch. 1-22; Mark 1-3, 8-16 (packet)
Friday, Oct. 2: Discussion
Monday, Oct. 5: Classical multiple-sense interpretation

Reading: Origen, On First Principles, Book IV (Origen, pp. 171-216) (packet)
Wednesday, Oct. 7: Contemporary mainline Protestant exegesis

Reading: Hayes & Holladay, Biblical Exegesis, pp. 5-44, 141-159 (packet)
Friday, Oct. 9: Discussion
Monday, Oct. 12: Mid-semester break, no class
Wednesday, Oct. 14: Contemporary conservative Protestant exegesis

Reading: Geisler (ed.), Inerrancy, pp. 493-502, 85-113, 267-304 (packet)
Friday, Oct. 16: Midterm exam
Monday, Oct. 19: Augustine’s Confessions

Reading: Confessions, pp. 3-51
Wednesday, Oct. 21: Augustine’s Confessions

Reading: Confessions, pp. 52-110
Friday, Oct. 23: Discussion
Monday, Oct. 26: Augustine’s Confessions

Reading: Confessions, pp. 111-178
Wednesday, Oct. 28: Introduction to Islamic Mysticism (Sufism)

Reading: Qushayri [d. 1074], Epistle, pp. 1-16, 75-138 (packet)
Friday, Oct. 30: Discussion
Monday, Nov. 2: Deliverance from Error, 2

Reading: Ghazali [d. 1111], Deliverance, pp. 19-54 (packet)

Wednesday, Nov. 4: Deliverance from Error, 3

Reading: Ghazali [d. 1111], Deliverance, pp. 54-85 (packet)
Friday, Nov. 6: Discussion

Monday, Nov. 9: Islamic Law (Classical)

Reading: Shafi‘i [d. 820], Treatise on the Foundations of Islamic Jurisprudence, 146-172 (packet)
Wednesday, Nov. 11: Islamic Law (Modern)

Reading: Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr [d. 1980], Lessons in Islamic Jurisprudence, Preface, Introduction, and pp. 1-53 (packet)
Friday, Nov. 13: Discussion
Monday, Nov. 16: Christian social ethics: 1960s

Reading: Mehl, “The Basis of Christian Social Ethics”; Janssens, “The Christian Concern for Society– A Roman Catholic View”; Shinn, “The Church in an Affluent Society” (packet)
Wednesday, Nov. 18: American Evangelical ethics: 1980s

Reading: Davis, Evangelical Ethics, pp. 7-20, 92-128 (packet)
Friday, Nov. 20: Discussion

Monday, Nov. 30: The Madrasas (Classical), 1

Reading: George Makdisi, “Muslim institutions of learning in eleventh-century Baghdad,” 1-56 (packet); Mottahedeh, The Mantle of the Prophet, 7-185
Wednesday, Dec. 2: The Madrasas (Modern), 2

Reading: R. Mottahedeh, “Traditional Shi‘ite Education in Qom,” pp. 451-457 (packet); Mottahedeh, The Mantle of the Prophet, 186-390
Friday, Dec. 4: Discussion
Monday, Dec. 7: A nineteenth-century Catholic view of higher education in the UK

Reading: Newman, The Idea of a University, pp. 3-11, 25-40, 147-164
Wednesday, Dec. 9: The contemporary home schooling movement in the US

Reading: Carpenter & Ray, “Religion, Schooling and Home Education” (packet); Beechick, A Biblical Home Education, selections (packet)
Friday, Dec. 11: Discussion
Monday, Dec. 14: Catch-up and wrap-up; final paper due

Religion 11 Fall 2009

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