09 Nov 2017

The Religions of the Middle East: A Comparative Approach

Religion is a subject in which people continue to vest powerful emotions. R350 Religions of the Middle East: A Comparative Approach, taught by prof. Despina Iosif is a course that examines the main teachings of three monotheistic religions of the Middle East: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and simultaneously explores how these teachings manage to affect the everyday lives of their followers.  

Throughout the semester, the class has made frequent exciting on-site visits, taking advantage of as many primary sources as possible to help students’ develop a better understanding of these religions in context. Let’s take a look at where they’ve been…

The Jewish Museum of Athens

What do Jews believe in? What does Judaism entail? Under which conditions did Judaism emerge? How do they communicate with God and express their religious experiences? These are just a few of the questions students examined in R350 while participating in an on-site class at the Jewish Museum of Athens.

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The Benaki Museum of Islamic Art

R350 visited one of the most beautiful Museums in Athens – The Benaki Museum of Islamic Art. Here, the curator of the upcoming ceramics exhibition let the class in for a private viewing before its official opening!

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Ag. Spyridon Church, Pangrati

The class visited the St. Spyridon Orthodox Church in Pangrati to explore the themes of worship and ritual. Students were guided through the rituals of Orthodox mass in order to understand how the church is a part of the everyday lives of its followers. The church chanter invited CYA Student, Jack Bushell (majoring in Religious Studies) to recite some Byzantine hymns to the class.

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Ag. Ioannis Theologos Monastery, Papagou

Students’ had the complete “Insider’s experience” at Ag. Ioannis Theologos  Monastery in Papagou, including a chance to interview nuns. Sister Nektaria guided students through the monastery where they had the chance to engage in in-depth conversation, about the religious life of nuns, and learn about the aspects of monasticism first-hand.

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Visit the Religions of the Middle East: A Comparative Approach course page to find out more, and take a look at the online Syllabus.

“I have always considered my Catholic identity an important part of who I am, so to be able to learn firsthand how those of a different religion practice their faith was such a wonderful experience. I’m so thankful for this class, how it expanded my knowledge on my own faith and the faith of others.” Kelly Holmin CYA (CSB/SJU) ’17

Learn more about CYA’s religion courses through the eyes of a student in “Theology Class Declassified: Learning All About the Greek Orthodox Church” where Kelly Holmin CYA (CSB/SJU) ’17,  talks about her wonderful learning experience in prof. Iosif’s religion class, R365 The Orthodox Church.