RLG100Y1: Final Exam Notes
Part 1: Terms:
•It is important to look at apocalyptic tradition and as the adjective not as apocalypse. It generally means unveiling,
revealing, the Book of Daniel, it emphases visions of things or a vision of a message. It also represents, the end of the
world or end of an era.
•In the Jewish tradition, there was a group of rigorously observant priests called Essenes and they were under the
leadership of a man they called the Teacher of Righteousness. When a candidate they disapproved of was appointed
high priest, they left Jerusalem and retired to the desert. There, they establish a center of priestly purity in preparation
for what they believed to be the coming apocalypse: the final battle between the forces of darkness and light at the
end of time. As well, a genre of Jewish literature that emerged in the later prophetic books (2 century BCE) and
flourished in the Hellenistic era, continuing even into the Byzantine period of the first several centuries CE, is termed
‘apocalyptic’, from the Greek for ‘unveiling’ (the Latin equivalent is ‘revelation’). Most apocalyptic literature is
eschatological in nature and visionary in presentation. The apocalyptic literature associated the messiah (Hebrew
word meaning ‘anointed one’) was with a divine overturning of the existing order, exemplifying God’s sovereign
control of events and rewarding the piety of the faithful who had trusted in God.
•In the Christian tradition: Jesus travels the region around Capernaum, working miracles, teaching how to apply
Jewish law to everyday life, and telling parables, many of which pointed to an impending apocalypse that would lead
to a new era of peace and righteousness he called the kingdom of God. Apocalypse refers to Cataclysmic events
marking the transition from one era to another, and is the name of the last book of the New Testament, which
describes such events. As well, in the Christian tradition, apocalypse gets fused with Deontology (judge before he
deciding of your fate), as we will be with God when everything falls apart.
•‘Dispersal’, Jewish word outside the land of ancient Israel; it began with the Babylonian Exile, from which not all
•The Persian Empire fell to Alexander the Great in 331 BCE. That conquest marked the end of the Hellenic age. It
was a period that Greek was adopted by many peoples of the eastern Mediterranean, where it remained the most
important language of trade even after the Romans arrived.
•Increasing trade and cultural contact fostered a cosmopolitan outlook that gradually eroded the Judeans’ connections
to the traditions of their forefathers. This was especially true for Jews- now the majority- who lived outside the
ancient land of Israel, throughout the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia.
•The reality of the Diaspora (from the Greek for ‘sowing of seed’, hence ‘dispersal’) meant that Judaism had evolved
in new ways, understanding and explaining itself.
•Philo was an Alexandrian Jewish philosopher who’s writings were reflected in sophisticated form and his views were
current across the Diaspora in the first century. His work indicates that the Torah remained fundamental, but the
Diaspora thinkers were particularly interested in showing that it was in harmony with Greek philosophy on essential
issues. Thus for example, Philo argued that the biblical narrative of the Garden of Eden was not literally true, but
should be understood as an allegory of the development of the soul’s moral virtues. Philo insisted on a literal
interpretation of many of the laws in the Bible.
•The 7 branched candle stick, a Jewish symbol since ancient times, well before the widespread adoption of the 6
pointed star; the 9 branched menorah used at Hanukkah is sometimes called a hanukiah.
•The use of the 7-branched menorah (‘candlestick’ or ‘lamp stand’) in both ancient and modern synagogues dates
back to the days of the Temple. The Victory Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum depicts Roman soldiers carrying off a
large 7 branches menorah as booty from the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. At that time the menorah became a
symbol of Jewish culture and sovereignty; today it is the official symbol of the state of Israel.
•As well, the menorah is used for Hanukkah but as a 9-branched candelabrum that commemorates the temple.
•The 9- branched menorah is lit during the 8 days of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. Hanukkah did not originate in the
practices of the ancient Hebrews. It dates from the Hellenistic period, specifically the mid- second century BCE,
when the Maccabean Jews drove the Seleucids out if Jerusalem. It celebrates the purification and rededication
(Hanukkah) of the Temple after its profanation by the Seleucids. They gave it a spiritual dimension by turning it into
a celebration of deliverance through the divine intervention: the miraculous eight day duration of one day’s quantity th
of oil symbolized by the Hanukkah menorah. The 9 holder in the Hanukkah menorah is called the Shamash (‘helper’
or ‘servant’), is for the candle used to light all other candles or be used as an extra light.
•In time all Jewish people, whatever their individual origins, would come to identify with the Exodus story, which
they understood as metaphor of the transition from slavery to freedom as people under God’s special providence with
a destiny and a purpose. To this day they commemorate their participation in the event during the Passover festival.
•The major festival of Passover (Pesach) comes in the spring, the season of agricultural rebirth and renewal. It ritually
enacts ‘spring cleaning’in the home. All the food to be eaten during the 8 days of festival must be prepared on newly
•Its real significance is spiritually, for it commemorates the Exodus- the critical moment when Moses led the Israelites
out of slavery in Egypt and towards freedom in the Promised Land. Like the Sabbath, Passover is closely associated
with a family meal called a Seder. The Passover liturgy, called the Haggadah (‘narrative’), recounts the story,
explains the significance of the symbols associated with it- most notably the unleavened bread eaten in memory of
the Israelites’ hast departure, when they had to leave before the bread they were making could be bakes- and
emphasizes the participation of all Jews, past and present, in that experience of divine deliverance.
•In Christianity, the Easter celebration takes place around the same time as Passover. As well, the Eucharist re-enacts
the Passover supper that, according to the synoptic gospels, was Jesus’ last meal with his disciples, when he
distributed the bread and whine, declaring them to be his body and blood, and asked the disciples to do the same in
remembrance of him.
According to tradition, the contents of the 3rd portion of the Hebrew canon, the sacred Writings, were finally
determined by the rabbis at Yavneh- a center of rabbinical study near the Mediterranean coast, in about the year 90.
To be included in the collection, a text had to have been composed in Hebrew in the period before the Exile. Because
the bndk of Daniel appeared to meet these criteria, it was included, even though it is now believed to date only from
the 2 century BCE, whereas the more straightforward account of the same period in Maccabees was ineligible
because it was known only in Greek.
In this way the Bible came to consist of three sections: The Law (Torah), the Prophets (Hebrew Nevi’m), and the
sacred Writings (Hebrew Ketuvim). Jews often refer to the complete corpus as the Tanakh- an acronym bawsed on
their titles (T-N-KH).
• The fiftieth day after Easter is Pentecost, from the Greek for ‘fifty’. In the Jewish tradition this was the festival
of Sahavuoth, the Feast of Weeks celebrating the end of the grain harvest and the giving of the 10 commandments to
• But Christianity celebrates the event recounted in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit enabled the apostles to speak in
diverse languages; therefore Pentecost marks the emergence of the Church as a missionary movement with a message
for all people.
• The ‘tongues’ that modern Pentecostals speak are not intelligible human languages: rather, they are understood
to represent the mystical language of heaven. With emphasis on immediate personal experience rather than textual or
doctrinal tradition, Pentecostalism can take a much greater range of forms than more established varieties of
Christianity, and is more accessible to people with little formal education. Pentecostal missionaries have had
remarkable success in Latin America and Africa, and Pentecostalism has been identified as the fastest growing
segment of Christianity today.
• More than three centuries later, when Christianity became the established religion of the Roman Empire,
church leaders made a list of the writings they acknowledged to be ‘scripture’. That standard list, or canon, of books
and letter is what Christians know as the New Testament.
• It included the gospels attributed to four of Jesus’ disciples: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. By then, those
four accounts had been accepted throughout Christendom. The situation was much more fluid in the late first and early
centuries, when the texts were written, and they were not the only accounts in circulation. Each gospel is the product
of an individual author with his own particular interpretation ad audience in mind.
• Therefore, a scriptural canon is the list of books acknowledged as scripture; the list of acknowledged saints is
likewise a canon. Canon law is accumulated body of Church regulations and discipline. Clergy subject to the rule of a
particular cathedral or congregation are also sometimes termed canons. • In the Muslim Tradition, accounts that report the Prophet’s Hadiths (sayings) must go back to an eyewitness of
the event. The hadith literature is often called ‘tradition’ in English, in a quite specific sense. Islamic ‘tradition’ (or
‘Prophetic tradition’) is the body of saying traced to the Prophet Muhammad through chains of oral transmission.
• Hadith is the most important component of sunnah because it is the most direct expression of the Prophet’s
opinions or judgments regarding the community’s conduct. To qualify as a hadith, its chain of transmission, beginning
with the complier or last transmitter and going back to the Prophet, must accompany a text. The aim of the study of
hadith is to ascertain the authenticity of a particular text by establishing the completeness of the chain of its
transmission and the veracity of its transmitters.
• There are 6 canonical collections of hadiths. The earliest and most important collectors were Muhammad b.
Isma’il al-Bukhari (810-70) and Muslim bin al-Hajjaj al Nisaburi (c. 817-75). As legal manuals, all 6 collections are
organized topically, beginning with the laws governing the rituals of worships and then continuing with the laws
regulating the social, political, and economic life of the community.
logos (in a specifically Christian context):
•Disciple John’s writes in his work, ‘In the beginning’, he writes in the opening words of Genesis in the Hebrew
Scriptures, ‘was the logos, and the logos was with God, and the logos was God; all things were made through him’.
•Logos is a Greek term with an important range of meaning in the philosophy and religion of the Hellenistic world
and the time of Jesus. It meant ‘word’ not just a vocabulary item, but also the whole idea of divine intelligence and
•A God, who can create the world through his word who can command the word through his word, and who can
redeem the word through his word, is what John wants his hearers to appreciate here. This logos is the ‘word’ with a
•A few verses later in the prologue, John declare that Jesus is the incarnation of that divine Word: ‘The logo became
flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth…etc’. Therefore, logos is ‘Word’ in the sense of eternal divine
intelligence and purpose.
•Obligations are reaffirmed in the Jewish tradition every Saturday in the rituals that mark the coming of age of
thirteen-year-olds. The details of the Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies (the Aramaic terms mean ‘son of the
commandment’ and ‘daughter of the commandment’, respectively) reflect several of the features that Jews consider
most significant in their tradition generally.
•The coming of age ritual is regular part of every congregation’s weekly worship. The teenager has to read 2
selections from the Hebrew Bible: one from the Pentateuch (the 5 books of Moses, which make up the first section of
the Bible) and one from the second section called the Prophets.
The idea that adulthood begins at thirteen is based on an ancient concept of legal majority that has nothing to do with
attaining adult status in the modern world: it was still be several years until a thirteen year old is allowed to drive a
car or cast a vote. Rather, what the ceremony signifies is arrival at the age of ritual and moral responsibility.
•The scripture from which the Bat or Bar Mitzvah reads in public for the first time is the Torah. Behind the Bar
Mitzvah ritual has always been a rite of passage to maturity, but it has taken on a new significance both for the family
and for the community since the late eighteenth century, when Jews began to achieve legal rights, gain in affluence,
and take part in the intellectual life of European societies.
•The first five books of the Hebrew Bible ascribed by tradition to Moses but regarded by modern scholars as the
product of several centuries of later literary activity. In the northern and southern Israelite regions, the stories of
Abraham and Jacob functioned to unify their populations, who all claimed decent from these patriarchs. The idea of a
family connection to Jacob originated among the ten Hebrew tribes in the northern kingdom, and Jacob’s alternative
name, Israel, became the name of people. Various editors and transmitters of the text, from their own perspectives,
sought to emphasize that the covenant between Israel and God entails a social contract.
•One of the first to suggest that the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses, might be a composite creation was the
eighteenth-century French physician Jean Astruc, who called attention to differences in the names used to refer to
God. He suggested that material by one author, who consistently referred to God as Yahweh, had been intermixed
with that of another, who regularly referred to God as Elohim. Other investigators began to notice stylistic
differences within the text, and in the second half of the 19 century the German scholar Julius Wellhausen
articulated a theory of 4 major blocks of material in the Pentateuch. •In the period of the first Temple, ‘torah’apparently referred only to the laws that governed priestly behavior. Starting
with the book of Deuteronomy, however, it was used to refer first to a written book of law and then to the Pentateuch.
The Pentateuch is bound as a book (the form that replaced scrolls in late antiquity) called Humash, from the Hebrew
•Are traditional prayer garb worn by men on weekdays. They are two small black boxes that hold massages from
scripture. Long leather straps attached to the boxes are used to tie one box to the forehead and the other to the upper
arm, facing the heart.
•The usual English term for tefflin is ‘phylacteries’, from the a Greek term meaning ‘protective charm’, but this is
actually misleading, since the boxes have no protective value. Rather, they are intended to fulfill literally the
commandment in Deuteronomy 6 to bind the words of Torah ‘upon the hand and as frontlets between the eyes’.
•Pious Jews put on tefillin for morning prayers every day expect Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. Tefillin dating to the
time of the Bar Cochba revolt (132-3) have been found in the caves of Judea, so we know that they were already in
use in the first century. Orthodox Jews use them regularly as an aid to prayer, in order to concentrate the mind and
fulfill the commandment. Reform Jews have suspended their use almost entirely.
•In time the main Methodist bodies in American became more organized and conventional, more sedate and mainline.
But new independent churches and movements continued to spring from the revivalist roots of Methodism. Because
of their emphasis on the experience of receiving the gift of holiness, these congregations are often referred to as
•Among them are the Church of Nazarene and the Church of God (started in Anderson, Indiana). The intensity of
feeling associated with that experience is often expressed physically. Some people roll in the aisles of the meeting
(hens the nickname ‘holy rollers’); some speak out ecstatically in an exotic prayer language (‘speaking in tongues’,
technically termed ‘gossolalia’).
•In either case, the group believes such behavior to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. Through initially a Protestant
phenomenon, this charismatic activity (from the Greek word spiritual gifts) has spread to Catholic Christians as well
since the 1970s.
•The Church began composing creeds-statements of the content of Christian faith-very early in its history. Especially
before Constantine put an end to the policy of persecution, such statements served as testes of the seriousness and
commitment of individuals joining the movement.
•The importance attributed to creeds (from the Latin meaning ‘belief’) has had a lasting influence on Christians’
understanding both of themselves and of others. An important Creed in the tradition other then the Apostles Creed is
the Nicene Creed. The Nicene Creed was named for the Council of Nicaea in 325 but ratified in its present form in
•Somewhat longer than the Apostles’ Creed, it covers many of the same topics in more detail and is a regular part of
services in the Catholic tradition. The Nicene Creed is more specific about the Holy Spirit and more inclined to
mention the Spirit along with God the father and Christ the son as part of a triadic list. This reflects the Trinity, a
central Christian teaching.
•Puritanism (1558-1660) was not a denomination it itself, but a movement in English and colonial American
Protestant church’s that flourished from the sixteenth to the mid seventeenth century. It began as an effort to ‘purify’
the Church of England of the remnants of Catholic practice that is retained after the accession if Elizabeth I in 1558,
when Protestants exile during the reign of the Catholic Mary I returned to England from Calvinist Geneva.
•Among the ideas the exiles introduced from Geneva was the Calvinist theory of predestination. Some Anglican
theologians, such as Richard Hooker and William Laud, preferred the free will arguments of their Dutch
contemporary Jacobus Arminius. But the Puritans held firmly to Calvinist theology, committing themselves to a
rigorous view of human sinfulness and divine predestination.
•Individuals who believed themselves to have been chosen by God for salvation, tended to display a strict, sometimes
smug, sense of moral vocation that was reflected in the Puritan movement. Calvinists (including Puritans) who were
motivated both to work hard and to live simple lives tended to accumulate savings and thus to play an important role
in a capitalist system. •Puritans and English Presbyterians found themselves in substantial agreement in the Westminster Confession of Faith
in 1647, and in the 1650s Oliver Cromwell sought to unite the Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists in a
Puritan state church. But the Church of England largely rid itself of Puritanism with the restoration of the monarchy
in 1660, and thereafter Puritanism ceased to have a coherent existence as a movement in England.
•The council of Trent opened in 1545 at the Italian city of Trento, northwest of Venice, and continued on and off until
1563, when it finished with a burst of decisive energy. The council acted to enforce discipline and end the abuses and
excesses that had so weakened the Church’s credibility as an institution. It stood its ground against some of the
•It reaffirmed the authority of institutional tradition alongside scripture. It also upheld the idea of a priesthood with a
distinct status and function as intermediaries, reaffirming the tradition of celibacy and creating seminaries for training
•In addition, Trent reiterated the Catholic understanding of the mass as a sacrifice. According to the doctrine of
transubstantiation, the words ‘this is my body’ and ‘this is my blood’ are literally and mysteriously effective,
transforming the wafer and the wine of the mass into the body and blood of Christ.
•In the Muslim tradition, the pedigree or chain of transmission of a hadith, with which the individual unit begins. The
religious fraternity is an ancient and widespread phenomenon. The earliest Sufi fraternities were established in the
late eighth century and by the thirteenth century a number of these groups were becoming institutionalized.
•Usually founded either by a famous shaykh (master) or by a disciple in the shaykh’s name, Sufi orders began as
teaching and devotional institutions located in urban centers’, where they would often attach themselves to craft or
trade guides in the main bazaar. It became common custom for lay Muslims to join a Sufi order.
•Lay associates provided a good source of income for the order, participated in devotional observances, and in return
for their contributions received the blessing (barakah) of the shaykh. The truth and authenticity of a shaykh’s claim to
spiritual leadership depended on his or her spiritual genealogy. By the thirteenth century, Sufi chains initiation
(similar to chains of isnad in hadith transmission) was established. Such chains began with the shaykh’s chain to ‘Ali’
or one of his descendants, or in some cases to other Companions of the Prophet or their successor.
Mishnah: (Jewish Tradition)
•A major achievement in the rabbis’ restructuring of the tradition was their codification of the Jewish legal heritage.
Forms that had been passed down orally in the Pharisaic tradition were now organized and written down. This basic
legal literature consists of two parts: the Mishnah and the Talmud.
•Unlike the midrashic commentaries, which followed the structure of the books that made up the Hebrew canon, the
Mishnah was an entirely new kind of text, with its own topical arrangement in six ‘orders’ or divisions: Seeds
(agriculture), Festivals, Women, Damages, Holy Things (rituals), and Purifications. Summarizing the Pharisaic-
rabbinic movement interpretation of the traditional law, the Mishnah is the oldest datable rabbinic document,
produced shortly before 220 by Rabbi Judah, known as ‘ha-Nasi’(‘the prince’).
•The authority of the Mishnah was based on the nothing that alongside the five books of Moses there was another
body of precedent and interpretation that had been passed down orally from Moses. Although the Mishnah of Rabbi
Judah the Prince is highly honored and is quoted as authoritative, it is not the only repository of the traditions
complied by the first generations of rabbis, who are often called the Tannaim (Aramic for ‘repeaters’or ‘teachers’).
•Like the Bible, the Mishnah of Rabbi Judah itself now became the subject of passage-by-passage commentary. With
its six ‘orders’ subdivided into a total of 63 tractates (treatises), the Mishnah became the skeleton of the collection
known as the Talmud.
•Is the Confucian virtue meaning the good feeling of a virtuous human experience when an individual is practicing
selflessness. Ren is exemplified by a normal adult's protective feelings for children. It is considered the inward
expression of Confucian ideals. Yan Hui, Confucius's most outstanding student, once asked his master to describe the
rules of Rén and Confucius replied, "One should see nothing improper, hear nothing improper, say nothing improper,
do nothing improper."Confucius also defined Rén in the following way: "wishing to be established himself, seeks
also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged himself, he seeks also to enlarge others."Another meaning of Rén is
"not to do to others as you would not wish done to yourself." Confucius also said, "Rén is not far off; he who seeks it has already found it." Rén is close to man and never leaves him. The central Confucian virtue, usually translated as
humaneness, benevolence, goodness, or compassion.
•Therefore, In Confucius’s view, the most effective way to cultivate ren was through careful observance of li (the
rites) by which he meant not only religious rituals but also the rules of social etiquette and everyday courtesy.
•The Bible came to consist of three sections: the Law (Torah), the Prophets (Hebrew Nevi’im), and the sacred
Writings (Hebrew Ketuvim). Jews often refer to the complete corpus as the Tanakh an acronym based on their titles
•After the biblical corpus had been fixed, the rabbis proceeded to collect and add to the body of Bible interpretation,
known as midrash (‘interpretation’ or commentary’). Most midrashic commentaries are line-by-line interpretations
following the sequence of biblical text, although they may also be ordered by the lectionary cycle (the schedule of
biblical readings every week) traditionally used in the synagogue.
•The early midrashim include three books of legal discussions from the first and second centuries, when the Pharisees
aide imaginative use of exegetic principles to derive rulings about contemporary customs from the written text of the
Bible. The three books are the Mekhilta for Exodus, and Sirfra for Leviticus, and Sifre for Numbers, and
Deuteronomy-contain a wealth of information about the context in which the legal discussions were held.
•The rabbinic writers of midrash took it as their task to understand the full significance of biblical text. Another, later
type of midrash, known as homiletical, is believed to present discussions generated by rabbinic sermons.
•Thus there is no single authoritative interpretation of any biblical passage. Jewish biblical commentary is communal
and composite literature, bringing together the commentaries of various important rabbis in a centuries-long effort to
uncover the implications of every biblical verse and relate to the Bible to the understanding and the concerns of the
•In the Christian tradition, Paul is identified as the architect of Christianity, then Marcion (d. c. 160) might be
described as the author of a blueprint that was rejected. Marcion, who lived a century after Paul, was a wealthy ship
owner, the son of a bishop, from the region of the Black Sea who made his way to Rome. Although his teachings led
to his excommunication (formal expulsion) from the Church in 144, this did not deter him from making his views
•There are also regulations that Benedict established in the first half of the sixth century became the model for many
other religious communities. These include: the excommunication for faults, the extent of excommunication, and
whether monks should have anything of their own.
•The excommunication for faults deals with an individual who is acting contrary to the holy Rule. If they are not able
to correct themselves, they are subjected to excommunication.
•The extent of excommunication is said to be regulated according to the gravity of the fault; and this is to be decided
by the abbot’s discretion.
•Lastly, whether monks should have anything of their own, it outlines that no one presume to give or receive anything
without the leave of the abbot, or to retain anything as his own and all things necessary must look to the Father of the
monastery and must be approved by the abbot.
•Therefore, excommunication is the formal expulsion from the Church, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, for
doctrinal error or moral misconduct.
•A‘descent’or incarnation of a deity in earthly form.
•There are many philosophical and sectarian traditions within Hinduism and understanding of murti vary widely.
Many Hindus believe that, once consecrated, the image of the temple become not a symbol of God but God himself,
fully present in image form in order to make himself accessible.
•The image of the temple, then, is a direct analogue to the incarnation (avatara) of Vishnu as Rama or as Krishna in
•Others however believe that the image in a temple is only a symbol of a higher reality, and some- including members
of the Brahmo Samaj and Vira Shaiva movements-have rejected images altogether.
shari’ah: •Islamic tradition distinguishes between prophets and messengers. A prophet (nabi) is one who conveys a message
from God to specific people at a specific time. A messanger (rasul) is also a prophet sent by God to a specific
community; but the message he delivers is universally binding sacred law, which is the shari’ah.
•The Torah given to Moses on Mount Sinai was an example of the latter: though delivered to the ancient Hebrews, it
remained binding on all those who knew it, Hebrews and other, until the arrival of the next revelation- the gospel of
•For Muslims God is the ultimate lawgiver. The shari’ah is sacred law, ‘the law of God’. It consists of the maxims,
admonitions, and legal sanctions and prohibitions enshrined in the Qur’an and explained, elaborated, and realized in
the Prophetic tradition.
•The term shari’ah originally signified the way to a source of water. Metaphorically it came to mean the way to the
good in this world and the next. It is the ‘straight way’ that leads the faithful to paradise in the herafter. Muslims
believe the shari’ah to be God’s plan for the ordering of human society.
•In the Jewish tradition, the Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday and continues until sunset on Saturday. On Friday
night many Jews attend synagogue services. Even though it occurs every week, the Sabbath is undoubtedly the most
sacred day in the Jewish calendar, consecrated by special prayers.
•In the grand six day creation story of Genesis, the Sabbath is built into the order of the universe. This is frequently
mentioned in the special prayers for the Sabbath. It serves as a remembrance of the Garden of Eden and a foretaste of
the return to Eden that is expected to come with the messiah.
•The Sabbath is also a primary sign of the enduring covenant with God. There is variations of the Sabbath based on
the level of practice you participate in. For example, Orthodox Jews will do nothing on the Sabbath that could be
defined as work and in strict observance, they must not even turn on a light or push an elevator button because using
electricity falls into the category of building a fire.
•Unlike Judaism and Christianity, Islam has no Sabbath specified for rest. Friday is that day designated for jum’ah
(‘assembly’), for congregational prayers.
•‘Old tales’, stories about deities that become important after the Vedic period.
•Vedas have four collections of hymns and ritual texts that constitute the oldest and most highly respected Hindu
sacred literature. They are the earliest surviving Indo-European compositions and they come from the Sanskrit
‘knowledge’ and are works collectively known as shruti (‘that which is heard’). They are thought to be composed
around 1500BCE and 600 BCE. Each Veda has its own Upanishad and an example of a Veda is the Rig Veda, which
contains 1028 hymns and the Sama Veda and Yajur Veda borrow from the Rig Veda.
•The literature that was made after the Vedas (around 500BCE) was derived from human origin and was loosely called
‘that which is remembered’. Through theoretically of lesser authority than the ‘revealed’, this material was
nonetheless considered inspired, and it has played an important role in the lives of Hindus for the last 2,500 years.
•Puranas is one of the three types of work the others include epics, and codes of law and ethics.
•The spirits that animate all living things, natural phenomena, and natural forces. Shrines were built to accommodate
their presence during rituals.
•‘Not-doing’ as a way of being in the world: a state not of ‘doing nothing’ but of acting without intention or self
interest; an ideal for both Daoists and Confucians, though most prominently associated with the former.
•It represents non-action and non-striving. It is paradoxical as it talks about something that is hard to talk about. There
is a different approach to Confucian idea of virtue. It highlights stillness and non action are the grounds for correct
•Stillness is the starting point that everything is created from it. The flowing water is another major idea and it is the
idea that it is flexible and takes the shape of whatever it is placed in. Within this there is the potential to be incredibly
powerful and achieve great things.
Zakat: •Individual faith and institutional Islam converge in the worship of God and service to others. According to well-
attested tradition, the Prophet himself said that Islam was built on five ‘pillars’. With the exception of the first (the
shahadah, the profession of faith through which one becomes a Muslim), the pillars are all rites of worship, both
personal and communal. The Five Pillars are: 1) to declare, or bear witness, that there is no god except God, and
Muhammad is the Messenger of God. 2) to establish regular worship. 3) to pay the zakat alms and 4) to perform the
•The zakat is the prescribed welfare tax. 2.5 per cent of each Muslim’s accumulated wealth collected by central
treasuries in earlier time but now donated to charities independently of state governments.
•Traditionally, all adult Muslims who had wealth were expected to ‘give alms’ through payment of an obligatory tax
called the zakat (from a root meaning ‘to purify or increase’). Offering alms in this way served to purify the donor,
purging greed and attachment to material possessions.
•Muhammad was always known as rasul Allah (‘the Messenger of God’) rather than as a ruler or military leader. But
he was all of these things. He waged war and made peace.
•He laid the foundations of community- which is ummah- that was based on Islamic principles. He firmly established
Islam in Arabia and sent expeditions to Syria. There is a big emphasis on ummah because beginning in a community
is very important.
•The third Gem in the Buddhist tradition is sangha. It has two components: the monastic community of ordained men
(bhikshus) and women (bhikshunis) and all the broader community the universal sangha of all people who follow the
Buddha’s path. Therefore, sangha is the ‘congregation’or community of Buddhist monks and nuns.
•Some forms of Buddhism also refer to the congregation of laypersons as sangha. Lay Buddhists are considered
members of the sangha in its wider sense, which includes all those following the path lay down by the Buddha. The
sangha of all disciples includes eight categories of ‘noble persons’, according to which of four levels they have
•The four levels are ‘those who have entered the stream (to nirvana)’, those who had advanced enough to return (be
reborn) just once more, those who are so advanced that they will never return, and those who have advanced to the
state of realizing the Arhat (worthy) path. At each of the 4 levels, Buddhists distinguish the person who has just
reached the new level from one who has matured at that level, making a total of eight classifications of noble
•The prototypes of the Confucian sage are three mythical sage kinds named Yao, Shun, and Yu, whose stories are told
in the first chapters of the Classic Documents.
•Because the virtues they embody are civil (wen), familiar, and filial (xiao) rather than military (wu), their stories are
interpreted as implicitly criticizing rule by force. Because of this preference for government by men of exemplary
virtue, the Confucian scholars came to be known as the ‘soft ones’(ru).
•Therefore, xiao means filial piety, a childs love for its parents expressed in respect and duty; the cornerstone of
Confucianism, considered a virtue by all Chinese religions.
•The energy of the individuals past thoughts and actions, good or bad; it determines rebirth within the ‘wheel’ of
samsara or cycle of rebirth that ends only when parinirvana is achieved.
•Good karma is also called ‘merit’. The Sutra Pitaka is often presented as a response to a question from a disciple.
•An example is when Subha asked the timeless question of why bad things happen to apparently good people.
•Shakyamuni, referred to here by the title bhagavan (‘lord’), then explained to Subha how the karma accumulated
through actions in past lives cause some people to suffer short, unhappy lives and others enjoy happy, blessed lives.
•Atitle of respect for Tibetan teachers or leading monks.
•Vajrayana is said to have been established in Tibet by a bhishu name Padmasambhava. Revered as Guru Rinpoche
(‘precious teacher’), he combined instruction in dharma with magical practices involving the world of the sprits. •The figure of Padmasambhava is particularly identified with a school of Tibetan Buddhism known as the Nyingma,
the ‘ancient’school that dates back to his time’.
•In the Hindu tradition means knowledge; along with action and devotion, one of the three avenues to liberation
explained in the Bhagavad Gita.
•There are similarities between Indian and European languages. For example, the Sanskirt world jnana is a cognate of
the English word ‘knowledge’; ‘lack of knowledge’is ajana in Sanskirt and ‘ignorance’in English.
•As well, in the course of the Gita Krishna describes three ways to liberation-or, as some Hindus believe, three aspects
of one way to liberation-from the cycle of birth and death: (1) the way of action, (2) the way of knowledge, and (3)
the way of devotion. Each way (marga) is also a discipline of yoga.
•Krishna explains the way of knowledge (jnana yoga): through spiritual knowledge, one may achieve a transforming
wisdom that also destroys one’s past karma. True knowledge is an insight into the real nature of the universe, divine
power, and the human soul.
•Later philosophers say that when we hear scripture, ask questions, clarify doubts, and eventually meditate on this
knowledge, we achieve liberation.
•In the Hindu tradition when images of deities are installed in temples, large geometric drawings (mandalas)
representing gods or goddesses and the cosmos are drawn on the floor and used as objects of meditation and ritual.
•In the Buddhist tradition, the Vajrayana tantras classifying the many buddhas and bodhisttvas in various families,
which are often depicted in a sacred geometric design called a mandala. For example, the ‘head’ of the family will
occupy the place of honour in the centre of the design, surrounded by the other members of the family, each of which
occupies a specific position.
•The most characteristic Sufi practice is a ritual called the dhikr (‘remembrance’) of God, which may be public or
private. The congregational dhikr ritual is usually held before the dawn or evening prayers. It consists of the
repetition of the name of God,Allah, or the shahadah, ‘There is no god expect God’(la ilaha illaAllah).
•The dhikar is often accompanied by special bodily movements and, in some Sufi orders, by elaborate breathing
techniques. Often the performance of the dhikr is what distinguishes the various Sufi orders from one another.
•In some popular orders it is a highly emotional ritual (similar to charismatic practices in some Pentecostal churches)
intended to stir devotees into a state of frenzy. By contrast, in the sober Naqshbandi order, the dhikr is silent , and
inward prayer of the heart.
•Individual faith and institutional Islam converge in the worship of God and service to others. According to well-
attested tradition, the Prophet himself said that Islam was built on five ‘pillars’. With the exception of the first (the
shahadah, the profession of faith through which one becomes a Muslim), the pillars are all rites of worship, both
personal and communal. The Five Pillars are: 1) to declare, or bear witness, that there is no god except God, and
Muhammad is the Messenger of God. 2) to establish regular worship. 3) to pay the zakat alms and 4) to perform the
•The hajj pilgrimage, instituted by Abraham at God’s command after he and his son Ishmael were ordered to build the
Ka’ba. Thus most of its ritual elements are understood as re-enacting the experiences of Abraham, whom the Qur’an
declares to be the father of prophets and the first true Muslim. Once in Mecca, the pilgrims begin with he lesser hajj
•This ritual is performed in the precincts of the Great Mosque and includes the tawaf (walking counter clockwise
around the Ka’ba and running between tth two hills of al-Safa and al-Marwa. The hajj pilgrimage proper begins on
the eighth of Dhu –al- Hijjah, the 20 month of the Islamic calendar, when throngs of pilgrims set out for ‘Arafat, a
large plain, about 20k east of Mecca, on which stands the goal of ever pilgrim: the Mount of Mercy.
•The hajj ends with a final circumambulation of the Ka’ba and the completion of the rites of the lesser hajj (‘umbrah)
for those who have not done so.
•Tradition asserts that a person returns from a sincerely performed hajj free from all sins, as on the day when he or she
was born. Thus the hajj is regarded as a form of resurrection or rebirth, and its completion marks a new stage in the
life of a Muslim. Every pilgrim is henceforth distinguished by the title hajji or hajjah before his or her name.
ijma`: •Islamic jurisprudence, as it was developed in the various legal schools (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafti’I, and Hanbali), is
based on four sources.
•Two of these, the Qur’an and sunnah, are its primary sources: the personal reasoning (iqihad) of the scholars, and the
general consensus (ijma’) of the community.
•The schools of Islamic law differed in the degree of emphasis or acceptance that they gave to each source. The
principle of consensus (ijma’) us meant to ensure the continued authenticity and truth of the three other sources.
•In the broadest sense, ijma’ refers to the community’s acceptance and support of applied shari’ah. More narrowly, it
has encouraged an active exchange of ideas among the scholars of the various schools, at least during the formative
period of Islamic law. Consensus has remained the final arbiter of truth and error, expressed in the Prophet’s
declaration that ‘my community will not agree on an error’.
•Is in the Muslim tradition and qiblah is the direction of prayer, marked in mosques by a niche inside the wall nearest
•The Qur’an’s narratives and worldview are closely akin to the prophetic view of history laid out in the Hebrew Bible.
The Prophet view of history laid out in the Hebrew Bible. The Prophet expected the Jews of Medina, recognizing this
kinship, to be natural allies, and he adopted a number of Jewish practices, including the fast of the Day ofAtonement
•But the Medinan Jews rejected both Muhammad’s claim to be a prophet and the Qur’an’s claim to be a sacred book.
The resulting tension between the two communities is reflected in the Qur’an’s treatment of the Jews. Some
references are clearly positive and others are negative. For example: ‘take not the Jews and Christians for friends’.
•Increasingly, Islam began to distinguish itself from Judaism, so that within two years of the Prophet’s arrival in
Medina, the fast of Ramadan took precedence over the fast of Yom Kippur and the qiblah (direction of prayer) was
changed from Jerusalem to the Ka’ba in Mecca.
- Language: oral and written texts; revelation, interpretation, and codification; "divine" language and its perceived
difference from 'human' uses of language; language and creation; the power of words, etc.
• Vedas are from the Sanskrit for knowledge and is said to be the earliest surviving Indo-European works dating
from about 1500 BCE.
These works are from the works of shruti, which is what was heard, the idea of revelation. Therefore, the Vedas
are an oral tradition.
There are 4 Veda collections:
o Rig Veda (hymns)- the oldest and more formal oral celebration (Each hymn is dedicated to a specific god
whichever humn your working with is the god with you),
o Yajur Veda (directions of performance of sacred rituals),
o Sama Veda (songs) -is the least formal and involves the whole community, and
o Artjarva Veda (spells) sometimes not considered a Vedic text (pre history culture tradition).
It is important to know that Vedas are not books that are found in peoples homes as they represents eternal
sounds, and eternal words passed on through generations with no changes.
brahmin priests (Vedas are for an elite group of exports) is specifically trained to memorize the Vedas and how
to preform the traditions, and are given exclusive access on how to perform the sacrifices (people who are
doing the ritual wont do the sacrifice properly if words are mispronounced (meaning of words is secondary, the
pronunciation is primary)).
o Example of sacrifice: Hindu fire sacrifice, which helps them, realigns themselves with the universe. They focus
on fire because fire was the original witness to the creation and the smoke brings the prayers to the heavens. It
is also easy to see transformation and whatever is out in the fire (spiritual state) burns then goes up (metaphor
for all religions, divine is up).
The Upanishads (sitting near the teacher) tacked on to the Vedas with oral discussion (dialogue) at the end of
the Vedas. There are 6 key points in the Upanishads: o Brahman: everything leads to Brahman (it is everywhere and the ultimate existence). If one can find Brahman
within themselves the piece of me that doesn’t die will be connected to the gods.
o Atman (who you are): this is the deepest part of the soul.
o Maya (illusion): this is when you think the world is composed of separate things (not real but we believe in it
because it affects you) Example: snake rope analogy: you see this thing and think it is a snake but once
you get closer to it, it isn’t a snake but a rope (snake is Maya (an illusion) and the rope really exists)
o Samsara: looks at the different ways to be reborn, it is completely abstracts and you find yourself and one with
the universe. You are part of a real life that is part of a wheel of life (forever turning), is it like a trap (you
cannot get out). Anytime you act in our world (positive or negative) it will determine where you will be in your
o Moksha: if you achieve this, you don’t come back. Once connected with Brahman actions aren’t those of a
human being. Once you are liberated those things (karma) no longer stick to that person, and once you die you
are reabsorbed in the community (no distinct identity).
Gods, actions and ‘text’ are all interconnected because Brahman= Atman (“Thou (Atman) art that
(Brahman)”). Your soul is Atman and heaven is joining with Brahman, while you are alive you have the
realization of identify. Once you attain liberation you are immoral and freeing yourself from being trapped in a
wheel and from the suffering of Maya.
• The “oral dimension” is so important because when uttering words they engage in a process of connection
and the attention to detail bring about skill. Once things did start to get written down, conflict arose and it
became a broken telephone.
• Classical Hinduism was Smriti: “What is written” or “What is remembered” there for it was different to the
Vedas as they were fully based on oral tradition.
• There was the emergence of Epics and Puranas: taking some ideas from the Vedas and Upanishads and making
something accessible for more people and have them known and be present in peoples homes.
o Epics: Mahabarata and Ramayana
Ramayana: After being exiled he gets married. His wife gets kidnapped but he kills a demon to rescue her life
and goes back to get the kingdom. There are many different versions of the story.
Mahabarata: This is a larger work and is part of the Bhagavad-Gita (popular in houses and a prominate Hindu
text). There are also two main characters Arjuna (warrior) and Krishna (Vishnu). The main theme in the
Mahabarata is Duty (dharma- happiness). If ones actions are done with the wrong intention, that isn’t what is
means to find liberation, because one needs to have selflessness. (Good intention= good action= liberation). If
one doesn’t follow duty, they have bad karma; you just need to follow by duty (like a synthesis: a bonding of
the idea of Moksha and Dharma).
o Puranas: Vedas were sacrificial and Upanishads are spirituals, the pharanas are mythical texts after that
continue the theme of accessibility. There are popular and found in homes.
•He depicts himself as a reaction of the elitism of the Vedic tradition (“seeker” not following the Vedic’s)
•After Buddha’s experience he was called Buddha (enlightened one) which came from the word Bodhi (to be awake)
•Why is the sacred biography important for the tradition: the sacred biography and sources (stories about Buddhas life
and Bhavird) they are stories that reinforce the tradition. They celebrate the hero (key part of the tradition story is
that they are exaggerated or metaphors are used).
•Theravada Buddhism: which is one of the earliest traditions. All in oral form (‘thus I have heard’). It used to be
called Himajana Buddhism, which means lesser vehicle in contrast to Mahayana (greater vehicle) and looks at the
way to eternal enlightenment.
•The first sermon explaining the 4 noble truths is from the Theravada tradition. Theravada have their own group of
texts different from the Mahayana and Tibetans.
•The ‘way of the elders’is the earliest scripture with the oldest historical ground. •There is also Tipitaka (Sanskirt: Tripitaka) and there are 3 baskets also known as a poli cannon. It contains oral
tradition and its authority was invested in people going to a guru. The 3 compnents are: 1) Vinayas, 2) Suttas, and 3)
•Mahayana Buddism (‘Great Vehicle’): claim that their ideas are primary and go back to the source. They have gone
passed the ‘Lesser Vehicle’(Theravada).
•Within Mahayana Buddism there is the Bodhisttva Ideal which is “The Vow” and entails that “I will remained
enlightened till all sentient beings are more than people”.
•The key doctrine in the tradition is the Shunyayata: which focuses on emptiness and being bloated or swollen (not
really as big as it appears). It describes the view of the world and the development of Atma (no self). It is applied to
everything (have no essential nature that makes them what they are).
•The Mahayana scripture was developed on their own. The written form was around 100 BCE to 600 CE. Within the
scripture there is Prajnaparamita (the perfection of wisdom), the Vimalakirti Sutra (lay people can achieve
enlightenment/ Buddha nature), Pure Land Suntras (pivotal for Buddhism traveling to east Asia), and the Lotus Sutra
(the idea that everyone has the Buddha nature- all tapped in but misperceived the world).
•In Confucianism tradition there literature came around 2 century BCE where men had to past state exams on books
and based on how well you did determined your ranking in society. There are 5 classics and within them is the book
on history, poetry, changes, rites, and the spring and autumn annals. Then there are 5 books and within those are
analects, book of Mencius, great learning, and doctrine of the eman. There is the same exam for every determining if
one can reach the bar that is set. This essentially focuses on recovering something that we have and that we are all
excellent human beings, we are deviated and now we need to return.
•In Daoism (Taoism) The primary text for Daoism is the Daode Jing in 3 century BCE and it is “the way and its
power” so the best to qualify for the job is the people who don’t want it because they have no previous agenda. They
are traced back to prehistoric times and there are 2 meanings in the title: the Dao (the way) and the idea of power
(energy). There is multi author translation: authorship said to be Laozi and Zhuangzi. In the tradition, the Dao itself is
infallible and you cannot describe it and it cant be put into words. Naming it doesn’t meant you got it, it actually
means you missed it. What is essential in the tradition is that idea that the Dao focuses on expressions and the use of
paradox to cope with our religious knowledge.
•In the Sikh tradition the Adi Granth is the primary scripture of the tradition. It includes the works of the first five
Gurus and the ninth, plus material by four bards, eleven Bhatts (‘court poets’ who composed and recited panegyrics
in praise of the Gurus), and fifteen bhagats (‘dethtees’ of the sant, thfi, and bhakti traditions), a total of 36
contributors stretching historically from the 12 century to the 17 century. The standard version of this collection
contains a total of 1,430 pages, and every copy is identical in terms of the material printed on individual pages. The
text of the Adi Granth is divided into three major sections. The introductory section includes 3 liturgical prayers. The
middle section, which contains the bulk of the material, is divided into 31 major ragas or musical patterns. The final
section includes an epthogue consisting of miscellaneous works. The second sacred collection, the Dasam Granth, is
attributed to the 10 guru. It has 4 major types of compositions: devotional texts, autobiographical work,
miscellaneous writings, and a collection of mythical narratives and popular anecdotes.
•In the Jewish tradition a fundamental text is the Hebrew Bible. The Bible is The Bible came to consist of three
sections: the Law (Torah), the Prophets (Hebrew Nevi’im), and the sacred Writings (Hebrew Ketuvim). Jews often
refer to the complete corpus as the Tanakh an acronym based on their titles (T-N-KH).
•The torah: is a flexable word with multiple meanings. It is the religious law and has 5 books (component of the
Hebrew Bible), it is a guide and provides a template on how to behave- from general to specific.
•The Bible aspect of the Hebrew Bible focuses on what is called the ‘Old Testament’.
•Penteateuch means 5 and Tanakh means Hebrew. Therefore these are the 5 books of Moses. This is the Torah:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The second component is the Prophets who continued h