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God's Messengers: Prophecy and Revelation in the Islamic Tradition (HA)

Prophecy and revelation are the foundations of Islam. What is the meaning of revelation and of scripture in Islam? Why is the Qur'an considered to be the final revelation? How has the Prophet Muhammad been understood and represented by Muslims in the past and in the present? What role do Muhammad's "brother prophets," including Abraham, Moses and Jesus, play in the Qur'an and in Islamic tradition? Was Mary, mother of Jesus, a prophet? This seminar explores these questions through primary sources in translation as well as through the lens of ritual, sacred geography, images, novels, and film.

Instructors
Shaun E. Marmon
Fall 2018
God, Satan, Goddesses, and Monsters: How Their Stories Play in Art, Culture, and Politics (EC)

Each week we'll take up a major theme--creation, the problem of evil; what's human/inhuman/ divine; apocalypse--and explore how their stories, embedded in western culture, have been interpreted for thousands of years--so far! Starting with creation stories from Babylon, Israel, Egypt and Greece, we'll consider how some such stories still shape an amazing range of cultural attitudes toward controversial issues that include sexuality, "the nature of nature," politics, and questions of meaning.

Instructors
Elaine H. Pagels
Spring 2020
God, Satan, Goddesses, and Monsters: How Their Stories Play in Art, Culture, and Politics (CD or EC)

Each week we'll take up a major theme--creation, the problem of evil; what's human/inhuman/ divine; apocalypse--and explore how their stories, embedded in western culture, have been interpreted for thousands of years--so far! Starting with creation stories from Babylon, Israel, Egypt and Greece, we'll consider how some such stories still shape an amazing range of cultural attitudes toward controversial issues that include sexuality, "the nature of nature," politics, and questions of meaning.

Instructors
Elaine H. Pagels
Spring 2021
God, Satan, Goddesses, and Monsters: How Their Stories Play in Art, Culture, and Politics (EC)

Each week we'll take up a major theme--creation, the problem of evil; what's human/inhuman/ divine; apocalypse--and explore how their stories, embedded in western culture, have been interpreted for thousands of years--so far! Starting with creation stories from Babylon, Israel, Egypt and Greece, we'll consider how some such stories still shape an amazing range of cultural attitudes toward controversial issues that include sexuality, "the nature of nature," politics, and questions of meaning.

Instructors
Elaine H. Pagels
Fall 2018
Great Books of the Jewish Tradition (HA)

This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including the Hebrew Bible, Midrash, Talmud, the Passover Haggadah, medieval Bible commentaries (Rashi, Nahmanides), Maimonides's Mishnah Torah (code of Jewish Law), and the Zohar, the central work of Kabbaah (medieval Jewish mysticism). We will pay particular attention to the role of interpretation in forming Jewish tradition.

Instructors
Martha Himmelfarb
Spring 2021
Great Books of the Jewish Tradition (HA)

This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including the Bible, the Midrash, the Talmud, Maimonides's legal and philosophical work, the Zohar, and Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise. We will pay particular attention to the role of interpretation in forming Jewish tradition.

Instructors
Yaacob Dweck
Moulie Vidas
Spring 2018
Great Books of the Jewish Tradition (HA)

This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including the Hebrew Bible, the Midrash, the Talmud, the Passover Haggadah, Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed, the Zohar, and Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise. We will pay particular attention to the roles of reading and interpretation in forming the Jewish tradition.

Instructors
Ra'anan S. Boustan
Spring 2022
Great Books of the Jewish Tradition (HA)

This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including the Hebrew Bible, the Midrash, the Talmud, the Passover Haggadah, Maimonides's Guide for the Perplexed, the Zohar, and Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise. We will pay particular attention to the role of interpretation in forming Jewish tradition.

Instructors
Ra'anan S. Boustan
Spring 2020
Great Books of the Jewish Tradition (HA)

An introduction to some of the major works of Jewish thought and literature that survive from antiquity until the early modern era. We'll closely read a wide array of primary texts in translation, from the Hebrew Bible to Spinoza, discuss the worlds in which the people who produced them lived, and consider some of the ways in which they add up to an ongoing tradition across time and space - and some of the ways in which they don't. Students with reading knowledge of Hebrew and Aramaic are warmly encouraged to use them, but this is optional; nor prior knowledge of Judaism is required.

Instructors
Eve Krakowski
Spring 2023
Great Books of the Jewish Tradition (HA)

This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including the Hebrew Bible, the Midrash, the Talmud, the Passover Haggadah, Maimonides's Guide for the Perplexed, the Zohar, and Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise. We will pay particular attention to the role of interpretation in forming Jewish tradition.

Instructors
Ra'anan S. Boustan
Spring 2019
Harlots and Heroines: Readings in the Books of Esther and Ruth (SA)

We will read the books of Ruth and Esther in the original Hebrew, considering aspects of translation and Hebrew grammar and syntax, as well as the historical, literary and religious contexts of the books. Particular attention will be paid to the role of women in the larger societal context of ancient Israel, as well as the development of the genre of the Jewish novella in the Second Temple Period.

Instructors
Laura E. Quick
Spring 2018
Healing & Justice: The Virgin Mary in African Literature & Art (CD or LA)

The Virgin Mary is the world's most storied person. Countless tales have been told about the miracles she has performed for the faithful who call upon her. Although many assume that African literature was only oral, not written, until the arrival of Europeans, Africans began writing stories about her by 1200 CE in the languages of Ethiopic, Coptic, & Arabic. This course explores this body of medieval African literature and paintings, preserved in African Christian monasteries, studying their themes of healing, reparative justice, & personal ethics in a violent world. It develops skills in the digital humanities & comparative literary studies.

Instructors
Wendy Laura Belcher
Spring 2023
Hindu Ethical and Political Thought (EM)

A course in questions of justice, civic virtue, and good governance, as addressed by Indian thinkers ancient and modern. Is politics a realm of ethical action? What are the ideal virtues of a king or minister? What legitimate justifications for violence are there, if any? Should we be concerned primarily with duties (deontology) or the effects of our actions (consequentialism)? Course readings include the Mahabharata, The Law Code of Manu, Gandhi's commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, B.R. Ambedkar's Annihilation of Caste, and V.D. Savarkar's Hindutva: Who is a Hindu.

Instructors
Andrew J. Nicholson
Fall 2018
Hinduism: Visions and Ideas (LA)

Through texts, visual art, observation of ritual practices we will take a close look at Hinduism. We will explore its major ideas, myths, rituals, narratives, its predecessors and opponents at different historical stages. At every stage we will observe how the insiders understood their relationship with the world, their moral and religious duties, and the right organization of society. We will discuss social, philosophical, and ideological tensions within Hinduism and its dialog with outsiders. We will explore the Indus Valley civilization, the Vedas, early and classical Hinduism, and different systems of Hindu philosophy.

Instructors
Nataliya Yanchevskaya
Fall 2020
Hip Hop, Reggae, and Religion (EM)

In this course, we will examine music and the religio-political imagination of the Black Atlantic, focusing on Jamaica and the US. We will examine the ways that the various cultures of hip-hop and reggae offer critique to our contemporary religious and political arrangements. Listening to the perspectives expressed in these cultural formations we will question whether the music provides a prophetic challenge to the status quo. Giving attention to the music, from the Negro Spirituals, to contemporary Hip Hop and Dancehall, we will contextualize it with an interest in understanding the relationship between their religious and political visions.

Instructors
Kevin A. Wolfe
Spring 2019