Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
1. Discover and describe the complex evolution of Judaism and Islam
and their interaction with Christianity.
2. Identify seminal thinkers and the unique characteristics of their
thought within the historic circumstances and literary understandings
of their own time.
3. Analyze and evaluate persistent religious themes and controversies
within rival hermeneutics of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
4. Trace the historic and religious sources of contemporary values and
I. The Ancient Near Eastern Origins of "Western" or "Monotheistic"
A. Egyptian "monotheism" under Akhenaten
B. The Divine Council of the autochthonous Canaanites
II. The evolution and diversity of pre-exilic Israelite religion
A. Yahwistic monolatry
B. Polytheism and syncretism in Biblical Israel
III. The emergence of Judaism after the exile
A. The evolution of rabbinic Judaism: temple to Torah
B. Hellenistic Judaism: allegorizing the God of Torah
C. Other sects and movements such as the Essenes, apocalyptic
D. The development of the sacred texts: Tanak, Mishnah, Talmuds and
IV. The origins and early development of Christianity
A. The diversity of early Jesus movements
B. Orthodoxy and heresy: Gnosticism
C. Rival Jewish and Christian hermeneutics
D. Christian apologetics and polemics
E. The triumph of orthodoxy under Constantine and his successors
F. The Ecumenical Councils: the Trinity and Christology
G. The establishment of the papacy and East-West conflict
V. The origins and early development of Islam
A. The Arabian context
B. Muhammad and the Quran, thoroughgoing monotheism
C. The evolution of Muhammad's prophetic career: Mecca to Medina and
D. The Rashidun: first four Caliphs and success of Islam's conquest
E. The Hadith: the evolution of tradition and Muslim practice
F. The Sufis and the relationship between mysticism and orthodoxy
G. The House of Islam as empire: the sharia, education, science and
H. The dhimmis: Jews and Christians under Islam
VI. The Middle Ages: interaction and conflict
A. The Crusades
B. The Inquisition
C. The God of the philosophers: scholasticism and the sharing of
scholarship in Maimonides, Ibn Rushd and Thomas
D. Theological interaction with the Renaissance
VII. The Protestant Reformation
VIII.The Enlightenment: science and historical-critical Biblical
A. The trial of Galileo
B. The excommunication of Spinoza
IX. Modernity and the rise of fundamentalisms and ultra-orthodoxy
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: The Classical Texts and Their
Interpretation. F.E. Peters, 3 vols. Princeton, 1990.
New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha, 3rd ed. 2001.
Al-Qur'an: A Contemporary Translation, Ahmed Ali 2001.