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Harvard University

World Religions Through Their Scriptures

Harvard University via edX XSeries

Overview

The study of religion is rich and fascinating — and goes well beyond beliefs and ritual practices. In this series, learners explore the diversity and evolution of the religions around the world. Through scripture, learners will explore themes such as gender and sexuality, art and science, violence and peace, and power and authority.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are global religions with diversity in language, culture, history, and creed, but the sacred scriptures of the Tanakh, the Bible, and the Quran give followers a shared language. How do Jews draw inspiration and guidance from traditional texts? How have Christians lived out their stories and teachings? What is the relationship between the Quran and the prophet Mohammed? This series will answer these questions and introduce you to these scriptures.

Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism present a rich array of religious texts from across the Indian subcontinent. How do these texts influence the lives of adherents? What challenges do multiple collections of scriptures present for practitioners? Why is Sikhism, the fifth largest religion, relatively unknown in the Western world? Learners will explore the tenets, beliefs, and history of these followers by analyzing scripture, literature, and contemporary media relevant to these religions.

Both the faithful and the questioning are invited to join us as we traverse the globe to explore the power of the written word and its relevance to contemporary public life and the spiritual lives of all who encounter it.

Syllabus

Courses under this program:
Course 1: Religious Literacy: Traditions and Scriptures

Learn how to better understand the rich and complex ways that religions function in historic and contemporary contexts.



Course 2: Christianity Through Its Scriptures

Learn about Christianity through a study of its sacred scriptures. We will explore how diverse Christians have interpreted these writings and practiced their teachings over a 2000 year, global history.



Course 3: Buddhism Through Its Scriptures

Learn about the rich and diverse beliefs and practices of Buddhists across time and place. Experience Buddhism through its scriptures, both relationally as well as academically.



Course 4: Islam Through Its Scriptures

Learn about the Quran, the central sacred text of Islam, through an exploration of the rich diversity of roles and interpretations in Muslim societies.



Course 5: Hinduism Through Its Scriptures

Learn about the rich diversity of Hindu sacred texts – hymns, narratives, philosophical thought – and their interpretations.



Course 6: Judaism Through Its Scriptures

Learn about the key beliefs and practices of Judaism through an examination of its sacred texts and their interpretation.



Course 7: Sikhism Through Its Scriptures

This course examines the Sikh scripture from a doctrinal and historical perspective by providing an overview of Sikh teachings as well as the historical context within which the scripture evolved and became canonized.



Courses

Taught by

Diane L. Moore, Anna Mudd, Karen L. King, Sarah Griffis, Ali Asani, Charles Hallisey, Alexis Bader Brown, Neelima Shukla-Bhatt, Jason Smith, Shaye Cohen, Matthew Hass, Harpreet Singh, Ravinder Singh and Damanpreet Singh

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