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RLG101 Final Exam Questions

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David Miller

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RLG101HS: FINAL EXAM STUDY QUESTIONS 15 QUESTIONS FROM LECTURES, OF WHICH 5 WILL BE SELECTED FOR THE EXAM (WORTH 5 POINTS EACH) 1. ABRAM, or later ABRAHAM, is a symbolic figure in the Hebrew Bible who becomes the PATRIARCH of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Who was ABRAHAM and why was he so important in later Judaic, Christian and Islamic traditions? Answer: Abraham(Abram) was born in Mesopotamia (Iraq) in 1850 BCE and migrated with his father Terah to Haran where he received the prophetic call from God (YHWH). Abraham was told to leave his father’s house and go to a land showed by YHWH. Because of this call, Abraham is the first monotheist. Abraham and his wife Sarah migrated to Canaan but famine caused them to go to Egypt. At 75, he returned to Canaan. A slave girl, Hagar, bore Abram a son named Ismael (Abram’s first born and later a patriarch of Islam). At 99, he had a prophetic experience when the lord appeared to him and renamed him Abraham instead of Abram. Abraham means “ancestor to a multitude of nations- the patriarch”. The Sarah had Abraham’s second son, Isaac who carried the lineages for Christianity and Judaism. Abraham’s faith was tested as he was told to sacrifice Isaac, his son. He was about to do it when the Lord replaced Isaac. So, Abraham is the symbol of absolute faith. He was the first monotheist and the prophet who led his people to the Promised Land. He is the patriarch of Judaism and Christianity (through Isaac), and Islam (through Ismael). 2. ABRAHAM made a COVENENT with GOD in GENESIS. What is a COVENENT and what did it require of ABRAHAM and his people? Answer A covenant is a contract. Abram made a covenant with God in Genesis when he was 99 years old. The lord appeared to Abram and told him to make a covenant. God also renamed him Abraham meaning “ancestor to a multitude of nations – the patriarch”. This was Abraham’s prophetic experience and he was the first monotheist. The sign of the covenant was circumcision of all males. Abraham and his people were all circumcised in order to follow the covenant. God told Abraham that Sarah will bear a son who he must name Isaac, then God will establish a covenant with him and his offspring after him. So Isaac was circumcised when he was 8 days old and when Abraham was 100 years old. 3. Describe the PROPHETIC EXPERIENCE of MOSES with GOD (YHWH) at Mount Sinai, as it appears in the Hebrew Bible. How does this story differ from MOSES’ encounter with GOD (ALLAH) in the QUR’AN? Answer: see past exam answers 4. Describe in detail the second encounter of MOSES with GOD (YHWH) at Mount Sinai after the EXODUS of the Hebrews from EGYPT. How might you characterize this religious encounter? Answer: see past exam answers 5. In DEUTORONOMY 31.24, shortly before his death, MOSES is said “to have finished writing the words of this law in a book (THE TORAH)”. Symbolically, in Jewish tradition, what does this sentence mean and what is the TORAH? Answer: Symbolically, it means that Moses has completed his prophetic experience by writing down the revelations given to him orally by God at Mount Sinai. This allowed later generations to learn about it. The deutoronomy is the last book of the Hebrew Bible where Moses completes the revelation given to him at Mount Sinai. Moses asked the Levites to put the book of Law (the Torah) by the side of the art of the covenant of the Lord. He said they were already rebellious and stubborn while Moses was alive so he was afraid what would happen after his death. Moses was in the generation that rebelled/disobeyed God so he wasn’t allowed to go back to Israel. So he puts the Torah into the ark and gives it to Joseph and then dies. The Torah is the law of God that was delivered to Moses by God orally at Mount Sinai. It has 5 books of the Bible that were written down by Moses after he received them orally. The books are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy reaffirms the covenant and includes speeches by Moses symbolizes the prophet who led his people to freedom, the law giver and a prototype of the prophetic experience. 6. According to Biblical Historians, which of the four GOSPELS was written first and how does that GOSPEL begin? How did the other three GOSPELS begin and of what importance are the “beginnings” to Christian theologians? Answer: See past exam answers 7. In MATTHEW 16, Jesus asks his disciples“Who do men say that I am?” Only PETER knew the symbolic meaning of the title, CHRIST. What did CHRIST mean in Jewish tradition and how has Christian tradition interpreted the title, CHRIST? Answer: See past exam answers 8. In the New Testament JESUS CHRIST created two important PROPHETIC experiences, one to Peter, James and John in Matthew 17, and the other to Paul (known as Saul) in Acts 9. Briefly describe the key elements of each experience. Answer: See past exam answers 9. In the Qur’an, what is the symbolism of Muhammad as the “SEAL OF THE PROPHETS”, and what is his relationship to Abraham, Moses and Jesus? Answer: See past exam answers 10. Interpret, in detail, QUR’AN 96.2 that describes MUHAMMAD’S first encounter with the ANGEL JIBRIL (GABRIEL). Answer: At age 40, Prophet Muhammad received his first prophetic experience and his first revelations from the angel Jibril and it was his first prophetic experience and he had mysterium tremendum or a creature feeling before Allah. Jibril said “recite” and shook him 3 times after which the prophet said “I cannot recite” or “what shall I recite?” and Jibril replied “recite in the name of Allah(the one God) who created everything. He created man from a clot of blood. Recite for Allah is most beneficient…” The Quran is the recitations of the prophet. Quran comes from the Arabic word Qara’a which means to recite. 11. What are the key elements of the SHAHADAH, the Muslim statement of belief, and what is the relationship of the Qur’an to “the scriptures that he formerly sent down”? Answer: See past exam answers 12. In the symbolic story of the life of the BUDDHA, what are the TWO EXTREMES and how might you characterize the ENLIGHTENMENT experience that he had? Answer: The two extremes he had were extreme luxury and pleasure (earlier in his life when he was ignorant to the impermanence of life) and the second was extreme spiritual asceticism (or seeking to hold spiritual things permanent). The first extreme was when he was kept away from any sign of old age, sickness and death and the symbol was seeking to hold material things permanent when they are impermanent. So, it is the philosophy of materialism. The second extreme was symbolized as the philosophy of extreme asceticism. This was when he met aestics (gurus) and he tried tapas (burn away bad karma), raja yoga (meditation) and Jain asceticism or salekhana (voluntary starvation to free the atman in meditation but instead of getting Moksha, Gautama fell over, then got up and said there is no soul/atman in the first place and nothing is spiritually permanent). He had a mystical experience when he found a middle way between the two extremes to gain enlightenment. He gained enlightenment/Bodhi or wisdom under the Bodhi tree (tree of enlightenment). He gained the divine eye (samsara in time and space), the four noble truths and Bodhi (nirvana-where the ignorance was extinguished as ignorance is seeking to hold onto things that are impermanent). 13. The BUDDHA, who is regarded as the proto-type of a MYSTIC, realized the absolute truth of the FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS at the height of a MEDITATIONAL EXPERIENCE. What are the characteristics of a MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE? Answer: See past exam answers 14. Like the Buddha, SHANKARA is a proto-type MYSTIC but whose mystical experience was radically different than that of the Buddha. What did SHANKARA mean by “SAMADHI” and how does this differ from the Buddh
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