This ten week course will examine the historical development of the three great monotheistic traditions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam which each trace their lineage to the biblical patriarch Abraham. Commonalities and differences between the religions will be explored with a focus on understanding the historical roots of contemporary issues stemming from these three traditions.
Free! RSVP at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, May 21st:
Lecture 1 – Introduction to the World of the Patriarchs 1:30-2:30pm: This lecture will introduce students to the course and will focus on the pre-biblical world of the Middle East, including a discussion on the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Babylonian creation myth the Enuma Elish and the religion of Canaan as understood by the archaeological discovery of the ancient Canaanite city of Ugarit. We will also examine the Documentary Hypothesis in regards to the composition of the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible.
Lecture 2 – Abraham, Faith and the Covenant with God 3:00-4:00pm: This lecture will introduce students to the course and will focus on the pre-biblical world of the Middle East, including a discussion on the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Babylonian creation myth the Enuma Elish and the religion of Canaan as understood by the archaeological discovery of the ancient Canaanite city of Ugarit. We will also examine the Documentary Hypothesis in regards to the composition of the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible.
Thursday, May 28th:
Lecture 3 – Exodus and the Birth of Israel 1:30-2:30pm: This lecture will focus on the story of Moses and the Exodus and its importance to the Jewish tradition. The entry of the Israelites into Canaan under Joshua and the period of the Judges will be briefly examined with emphasis placed on the creation of the monarchy and a united Israel
Lecture 4 – Exile, Empire and the Age of Prophesy 3:00-4:00pm: This lecture will discuss the conquest of Israel by Assyria, the Babylonian invasion of Judah and subsequent exile and the birth of Biblical prophetic tradition. The influence on Jewish theology by the Persian Zoroastrian tradition and Hellenization resulting from the conquest of Alexander the Great will also be discussed.
Thursday, June 4th:
Lecture 5 – Jesus of History, Jesus of Faith 1:30-2:30pm: This lecture will explore what can be known of the historical Jesus and his relationship to the Jewish tradition. The development of the New Testament scriptures, including the four canonical gospels and the letters of Paul will also be explored.
Lecture 6 – The First Christians 3:00-4:00pm: This lecture will examine the early Jesus movement and how it eventually separated from Judaism to become an independent religion. The diversity of early Christianity will be explored, with special emphasis placed on the Gnostic Christians and the process in which Christian dogma developed and was adopted.
Thursday, June 11th:
Lecture 7 – Islam 1:30-2:30pm: This lecture will introduce the traditional narrative of the life of Mohammad and the revelation of the Qu’ran. It will include a discussion of the Five Pillars of Islam and will explore the commonalities and differences between Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
Lecture 8 – Logos and Gnosis 3:00-4:00pm: This lecture will examine some of the key theological debates which arose in response to the “re-discovery” of Greek philosophy, in particular the thought of Aristotle. It will also explore the mystical strands that appear in each tradition, with special emphasis being made upon connections to Platonism and the development of nature mysticism.
Thursday, June 18th:
Lecture 9 – Enlightenment and Modernity 1:30-2:30pm: This lecture will explore the challenges faced by all three of the western monotheistic traditions with the advent of the Enlightenment and Modernity. The development of religious fundamentalism as a response to these challenges will also be discussed.
Lecture 10 – The Monotheistic Faiths in the 20th Century and Beyond 3:00-4:00pm: In this concluding lecture, the consequences of the religious response to the challenges of the Enlightenment and modernity will be explored. Special focus will be placed on the question of religious fundamentalism and extremism.
Nick Mather has an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Metropolitan State College of Denver and holds a graduate degree in Religious Studies from the University of Denver. He is currently a doctoral candidate in the Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. His areas of specialty include the history of religion, environmental virtue ethics and religion and ecology. He has been teaching a variety of religious studies and philosophy courses at several area community colleges for the last ten years.