RLG101HS: FINAL EXAM STUDY QUESTIONS
INSTRUCTOR DAVID MILLER
WORTH 50% OF FINAL MARK
Not in the exam
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?
2. ABRAHAM made a COVENENT with GOD in GENESIS. What is a COVENENT and what
did it require of ABRAHAM and his people?
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?
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
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?
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?
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?
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.
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?
10. Interpret, in detail, QUR’AN 96.2 that describes MUHAMMAD’S first encounter with the
ANGEL JIBRIL (GABRIEL).
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”?
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?
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?
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 Buddha’s understand of NIRVANA?
15. What did NANAK, the founder of Sikh tradition, mean by his statement that “there is no
Hindu; there is non Muslim”? How did NANAK envision Sikh tradition that adopted elements
of Hindu and Islamic traditions?
15 QUESTIONS FROM READINGS, OF WHICH 5 WILL BE SELECTED FOR THE
EXAM (WORTH 5 POINTS EACH)
1. What distinctive feature of the ABRAHAM tradition do the TWICE-TOLD-TALES
exemplify and what is the significance of the repeated stories?
2. What is the significance of ABRAHAM for ISLAM, as mentioned in the QUR’AN?
3. Where are the traditions about MOSES contained, and what are the FOUR DOMINATE
TRADITIONS about Moses in the Hebrew Scriptures?
4. What aspect of the relationship between JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY is reflected by
the portrayal of MOSES in the New Testament, and what are the ways that the New
Testament reflects this aspect?
5. What issues does the RESSURRECTION OF JESUS present to critical historical study?
What arguments have historians made in attempts to explain the RESSURRECTION in
historically plausible terms, and what arguments have been made against these attempts?
6. Discuss the quest for the HISTORICAL JESUS. Name some of the key figures, their basic
goals, and how the portraits of JESUS changed as the “quest” continued. Also discuss
briefly the influence of Schweitzer’s work on historical Jesus studies.
7. Describe in detail the key characteristics of MUHAMMAD’S prophethood, with
particular attention to his “call” and to the nature of his REVELATIONS.
8. Discuss in detail the important elements of the MUHAMMAD’S position as both
RELIGIOUS and POLITICAL LEADER in the community of his time, and of the role he
came to play in the later Islamic community.
9. The approaches to the academic study of the HISTORICAL BUDDHA have changed
significantly since their initial stages in the late nineteenth century. How have these
critical approaches changed over the last century and what conclusions have current
scholars reached about the HISTORICAL BUDDHA? Why are the historical dates of
BUDDHA’S life and death problematic in this study?
10. Different BUDDHIST traditions recognize other BUDDHAS besides the historical
GAUTAMA. Outline and describe these other forms in which BUDDHAS may exist in
11. LORENZEN spends much of his article on SANKARA discussing SANKARA’S
biography, outline the major events in SANKARA’S life and explain how this impacted
the development of his religious thought.
12. Provide a detailed comment upon the following statement: “A central doctrine of
SANKARA’S thought claims that from the point of view of the SUPREME TRUTH our
inner SELF OR SOUL (ATMAN), the essence of consciousness, is identical with the
essence of being, BRAHMAN itself.”
13. NANAK’S message comes from the HINDU SANT tradition in Northern India; discuss
the main tenants which NANAK borrows from this tradition and explain why he did not
create a completely new system of theology for his teachings.
14. According to NANAK, God calls for devotion and sacrifice to save humanity. What else
must one do to be saved by God? Explain the actions one must do to attain salvation and
how GOD’S GRACE is a factor in the saving of humanity.
15. Who was RAMAKRISHNA? Provide a brief description of RAMAKRISHNA’S life,
central teachings, and the Ramakrishna Movement later led by SWAMI
RLG101HF: FINAL EXAM STUDY QUESTIONS (DECEMBER 19, 2007)