Required Reading: 1. Corrigan, et al. Jews, Christians, Muslims. NJ: Prentice Hall, Individual readings on Blackboard.

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1 RELIGION Religions of the West Fall 2012, MW 1:30-2:45, East Building 201 Prof. John Turner Office: Robinson B443A, Phone: (703) , Office Hours: M 3-4, W or by appointment Course Description: In this course, students explore the history, beliefs and practices of the religions that originated among the peoples of the Near East. We will deal primarily with the three major world religions to come out of this region Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Students will examine these three religious traditions thematically and comparatively, in order to understand the similarities, differences, and relationships between them. While the primary focus is on the origins and history of each religious tradition, we will also take note of the development of each tradition within the contemporary United States. Finally, students will receive a brief introduction to Mormonism, a new religious tradition arising out of American Christianity. Course Objective: By the end of this course, students will know the general history of the development of the three major Western religions, and have an understanding of their scriptural traditions, their respective beliefs regarding the nature of God and his relationship to the world, their institutional structures, ritual practices and ethical concerns. Students should be able to discuss the different approaches of these three religions to various theological and moral issues in a comparative way and understand the relationship between the belief systems of these three religious groups. Class Procedures: The format of this class will be a combination of lecture and discussion. Students should come to class having read the assigned material and should be prepared to discuss those readings in class. Materials on Blackboard should be printed and brought to class. Grades are based upon a midterm exam (Oct. 14), a final exam (Dec. 14), class participation, and an eight- page term paper (due Nov. 23). An information sheet with the topics and instructions for this paper is at the end of this syllabus. Occasional one- page reflection essays will be assigned and will form part of the student s participation grade. The midterm exam will be comprehensive through the date of the exam, and the final exam will be comprehensive for the entire semester, although it will concentrate on material since the midterm. Required Reading: 1. Corrigan, et al. Jews, Christians, Muslims. NJ: Prentice Hall, Individual readings on Blackboard. Grade Evaluation: Midterm examination: 20% Short Assignments: 20% Term paper: 20% Final examination: 25% Reading Quizzes / Class Participation: 15% Attendance: Students are expected to attend all class sessions. The exams will draw on lectures for material not readily available elsewhere. For most students, whether or not they attend class is the single best indicator of their performance in the course. Everyone will receive two free passes - - this should cover illnesses and family emergencies. Each subsequent absence will deduct 3 points from your course grade. To clarify, if you miss two classes because you're at the beach and then contract dengue fever, you will receive sympathy but not leniency. If a major problem arises, however, please be in touch with me as soon as possible. Repeated tardiness will also lead to a reduction in course grade. I will also "boost" your overall grade for perfect or near- perfect attendance.

2 Honor Code All George Mason University students have agreed to abide by the letter and the spirit of the Honor Code. You can find a copy of the Honor Code at academicintegrity.gmu.edu. All violations of the Honor Code will be reported to the Honor Committee for review. Instances of plagiarism will receive a strict penalty, which includes the possibility of a grade of F for the course. Classroom Etiquette The use of cell phones for texting, browsing, twittering, e- mail or voice mode is not permitted in class, they must be switched off and hidden. No laptops, netbooks, tablets, e- book readers without express permission from the instructor. Students engaging in those activities will be asked to leave the class and these enforced absences are recorded against the final grade. Unexcused late arrival to class and early departure are unacceptable and will also result in loss of grade points. Students must activate their GMU e- mail accounts: students are responsible for making sure that they receive e- mail communications sent by the instructor. Disability Services If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please see the professor and contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at All academic accommodations must be arranged through the ODS. Important Semester Enrollment and Withdrawal Dates Students are responsible for verifying their enrollment in this class. Schedule adjustments should be made by the deadlines published in the Schedule of Classes. Last Day to Add: 9/4/2012 Last Day to Drop: 9/4/2012 (9/18-33% penalty, 9/28 67%) After the last day to drop a class, withdrawing from this class requires the approval of the dean and is only allowed for nonacademic reasons. Policy on late short assignments: Due at the start of class. No late short assignments.

3 Course Outline: Aug. 27 Aug. 29 Sept. 5 Sept. 10 Sept. 12 Sept. 17 Sept. 19 Sept. 24 Sept. 26 Oct. 1 Oct. 3 Introduction Monotheism, Pluralism, and Ancient Near East Tradition Rita Gross, Religious Diversity: Some Implications for Monotheism, in Cross Currents, Fall [PDF] Stan Guthrie, True or Merely Useful? Books & Culture, May/June 2011, [PDF] One- page, double- spaced response paper, with one paragraph summarizing Gross s argument and one paragraph in response to it. Submit via Blackboard as Short Assignment #1. Overview of Judaism Epic of Gilgamesh (selection) [PDF] Genesis 1-3; 6-9 [PDF] Overview of Judaism document. [PDF] One- page, double- spaced response paper. What do you make of the similarities between the Epic of Gilgamesh and the early chapters of Genesis? Submit via Blackboard as Short Assignment #2. Overview of Christianity Overview of Christianity document. [PDF] Film Presentation: From Jesus to Christ Overview of Islam Hebrews 8:6-13; Qur an 2:40-47, 124; 13: Nasr, S.H. Ideals and Realities of Islam, ch. 1 [PDF] Overview of Islam document [PDF] Scripture and Tradition in Judaism Corrigan, chapter one Genesis 15-18, 22; Exodus 19-20; Isaiah 1-3; Psalms 31, 33; Ecclesiastes 1-3, 6, 9 [PDF] Glatzer, The Judaic Tradition, Talmud selections [PDF] Scripture and Tradition in Christianity Corrigan: chapter two Matthew 4, 5; Mark 7-9; John 1, 3, 14-15, 20-21; [PDF] Scripture and Tradition in Islam Corrigan: chapter three Qur an and Hadith Document: Qur an, surah 3, [PDF] Document: Hadith material [PDF] One- page response paper on an assigned surah. Summarize the content / meaning of the text and offer a brief response (your response may include questions). Does the Hadith material bear on your assigned text? Theology, Philosophy and Mysticism in Judaism Corrigan: chapter four Moses Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed, selection [PDF] Elie Wiesel, Night, excerpt [PDF] 1.5- page response paper, double- spaced any response to both Maimonides and Wiesel. Submit as Short Assignment #4.

4 Oct. 8 Oct. 10 Oct. 15 Oct. 17 No Class FALL BREAK Theology, Philosophy and Mysticism in Christianity Corrigan: chapter five Augustine of Hippo, Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Love, selection [PDF] Aquinas, Summa Theologica, selection [PDF] Theology, Philosophy and Mysticism in Islam Corrigan: chapter six Eric Ormsby, Theodicy in Islam, selection [PDF] Sherman Jackson, Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering [PDF] MIDTERM EXAM REMAINDER OF DAILY SCHEDULE TO BE DISTRIBUTED AT MIDTERM. TERM PAPER DUE BY CLASS TIME ON NOV. 19 ***FINAL EXAM: TUESDAY, DEC. 12, 1:30-4:15***

5 Religious Studies : Religions of the West Term Paper Information Sheet Due: Nov. 19, 2012 Topic: Select ONE of the four areas of ethical concern listed below and research some of the ways in which this issue has been dealt with in TWO of the three religions we have studied. 1. Environmental/Ecological Responsibility 2. Abortion OR Euthanasia 3. Homosexuality or alternative forms of sexuality within the social/marriage traditions 4. Social welfare/responsibility toward to poor NOTE: Since there are multiple Jewish, Christian and Islamic views on all of these issues, your paper need not deal with all of the perspectives within a single tradition. Rather, within your discussion of a given religious tradition, you may want to focus on a particular denomination, for example, on the Catholic view of abortion in comparison to the Orthodox Jewish perspective. You also do not need to cover every aspect of the issue you choose to research in your paper. So, for example, within the issue of the environment, you might want to discuss comparative religious arguments for the moral necessity of preservation efforts, or else focus on comparative views regarding the ethical treatment of animals. However, you must select perspectives from within two different religious traditions and compare them in order to correctly complete the assignment. Students are strongly encouraged to discuss their choice of topic with the instructor via or in office hours, in order to ensure the feasibility of their proposed topic, and to receive some initial help in finding sources. Students who wish to write their paper on an issue outside of the four general categories listed above must get specific approval from the instructor to do so. General requirements of the paper: The paper should be 8 pages in length. The paper can be extended by one page, but not more. It must be double- spaced, with one- inch margins, in 12 point font. The paper must have proper citations in either footnote or parenthetical author and page number format for both direct quotations and specific facts or ideas taken from an outside source. While students should take the majority of their information from printed source material, students may use internet sites as additional sources of information, but with caution. Students should take great care to ascertain the reliability and authority of the websites from which they take their information if need be, by seeking the advice of the instructor as to the reliability of the information or the authorities cited on a given internet site. The citation or inclusion of grossly inaccurate information obtained from questionable websites will negatively affect the grade for the paper. The minimum number of sources consulted for the paper is 5, and three of those must be printed sources (journal articles read electronically count as printed sources). All sources cited in the text, including internet sites, must be listed with complete bibliographical information, in bibliographic format at the end of the paper. Guidelines for a successful paper: 1. The paper should provide a brief overview of the specific ethical issue being discussed, and the general reasons why the issue is one of religious concern. 2. The paper should present one or more of the leading views on this issue found in each of the two religions you choose to research, and discuss the ways in which the different spiritual perspective and beliefs of the two religions affect the ethical positions taken on this issue. 3. The paper should make explicit comparisons between the two separate religious views on the issue, and discuss the reasons for any differences or similarities in their approach to the issue.

6 4. The paper should be organized in a clear and structured way, with an opening paragraph that outlines the topics and arguments that will be addressed in the paper and a concluding paragraph that recapitulates the general findings of your research. 5. The paper should be well- written and every effort should be made to eliminate spelling, grammatical and stylistic errors. Students who have little experience with university- level writing, or else feel that their writing skills need some improvement, are strongly encouraged to visit the Writing Center in Robinson Hall for advice and assistance with their paper well prior to the paper s due date. Plagiarism Warning: There will be no tolerance for plagiarism in the assignments for this course. Plagiarism consists of presenting the writing, research or analysis of others as one s own. It applies not only to the lifting of the verbatim text of another author s work without quotation marks and accurate citation, but also to the taking of specific information, analysis or opinions even if not in the exact words of the author him/herself and presenting them without citation in one s own paper. This applies both to material in printed format and to material found on internet sites. Any instance of outright plagiarism, as described above, will result in the student receiving a grade of F on this paper; and the student will not be given the opportunity to rewrite the paper. Consistently insufficient citations (e.g., citations that do not give accurate page numbers) will significantly lower the student s grade on the paper, even if they do not rise to the level of outright plagiarism. Policy on late papers: Papers are due by class time, Nov. 19. Papers received after this time will be docked one half- grade for every day they are late.

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