The Religions of the Middle East: A Comparative Approach

Religion is a subject in which people continue to vest powerful emotions. “The Religions of the Middle East: A Comparative Approach” course will focus on the three monotheistic religions of the Middle East: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and in order to develop a better understanding of them, will make frequent exciting on-site visits and exploit as many primary sources as possible.

Monotheism is the shared theological orientation of Judaism, Christianity and Islam that often embraces almost every aspect of the private and the public life of their followers. Our aim will be to examine Judaism, Christianity and Islam’s main teachings and simultaneously to explore how these teachings manage to affect the everyday lives of their followers. How is a devout follower envisaged and how do people shape their lives to fit the image of a devout follower? Additionally, we will describe the ways in which Judaism, Christianity and Islam have constructed their distinctive meanings, compare them and note the similarities and the debts to each other, keeping in mind that various communities with a completely different outlook exist and claim sole orthodoxy. Hopefully, we might eventually come to question our own assumptions of the three monotheistic religions.

I’ve been waiting for years to visit these sights: to, as Despina says, ‘walk where emperors walked.’

Joshua Kam, Fall 2015


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