I. The major world religions include, but are not necessarily limited to, Hinduism, Buddhism,
the Chinese Traditions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
II. Key concepts used in the study of world religions include, but are not limited to,
ultimate reality, theology, cosmology, afterlife, monotheism vs. polytheism, morality,
history, rituals, scripture.
III. The tenets, cultural setting, and historical development of the world's religions include,
but are not limited to:
A. Hinduism (Bhagavad Gita, Trimurti & Devi, avatars & numerous deities,
Brahman-Atman, maya, karma, samsara, caste system, four stages of life,
B. Buddhism (life of Buddha, relation to Hinduism, Triple Treasure, Four Truths,
Eightfold Path, Paramitas, Pali Canon, nirvana, bodhisattva, Theravada vs. Mahayana,
zen, Tibetan Vajrayana; primacy of meditation practice and mind training)
C. Chinese Traditions (Confucian ideology, Taoist philosophy & the legend of Laozi,
yin-yang-5-phases correlative cosmology, the folk tradition's pantheon of
popular deities, ghosts, & ancestors; Chinese transformation of Buddhism)
D. Judaism (creation, Patriarchs, Prophets, Exodus, Diaspora, relation to Christianity,
Zionism, Orthodox, Reform & Conservative branches, Holocaust)
E. Christianity (life of Jesus, relation to Judaism, resurrection, disciples, early Christians,
incarnation, original sin, Trinity last judgment, Roman Catholicism vs. Protestantism vs.
F. Islam (life of Muhammad, Five Pillars, Sunnis vs. Shi'ites, Sufism, jihad, relation to
Christianity & Judaism, fundamentalist political movements)
May include any/all of the following:
1. Readings from course text and/or supplementary materials.
2. Group discussion of specific issues raised in readings or lecture.
3. Short essays (500-1000 words each) comparing and contrasting various aspects
of the major religions.
4. Research project and written essay (1250-2500 words each) defending a specific
position on a comparative issue.
5. Quizzes (multiple choice and/or short answer) on assigned readings.
6. Midterm examinations including essay, short answer, and multiple
7. Final examination including essay, short answer, and mulitple choice sections.
Invitation to World Religions (2nd). Brodd, Jeffrey and Little, Layne and Nystrom, Brad. Oxford University Press: 2015
A Concise Introduction to World Religions (3rd). Edited by Oxtoby, Willard G. and Amore, Roy C. and Hyssain, Amir. Oxford University Press: 2015
Religions of the World (13th). Hopfe, Lewis M. and Hendrickson, Brett R. Pearson: 2015