OUTLINE OF NOTES/CONTEXT
A. TORAH (Hebrew Bible) (Oral text)
1. = Law, can be referred to as entire corpus of human law
2. “Bible” + “Torah” used interchangeably
3. (written) Foundational text given to Moses on Mount Sinai (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus,
a) Exodus: central event in Hebrew narrative→ the enslaved Israelites are freed
(1) TEN COMMANDMENTS GIVEN TO MOSES (1. I am the Lord thy God 2. No
other gods before me 3. No graven images or likenesses 4. Not take the lord’s
name in vain 5. Remember the sabbath day 6. Honour thy mother + father 7.
Thou shalt not kill 8.Thou shalt not commit adultery 9. Thou shalt not bear
false witness against thy neighbor 10. Thou shalt not covet (desire that which
does not belong to you)
b) Leviticus: distinguishes group, given particular identity, says what foods are good +
(1) Clean meat: animal with hooves cloven in two, chews cud
(2) Forbidden: birds, seafood, fish, anomalies (bats),
5. (oral) revealed to Moses then handed down to Joshua→ elders→ prophets→ men of great
B. (Christian) Old Testament based on Torah + added stories (New Testament)
1. Torah (1st 5 books)
2. Nevi’im (prophets)
3. Ketuvim (writings)
E. OLD TESTAMENT
a) “TaNaKH” + apocryphal material (writings not considered canonical but inspired Old
a) Written down by Moses in traditional account b) ** Written by multiple authors→ PJDE AUTHORS
(1) Debate over D + E authors
(2) P = “Priestly” , P author uses a different name for God (Elohim), sets the
(3) J = “Yahuist/Jehovah” = name of God used in Genesis, some parts date
earlier and were **woven into P narrative.
c) (each author has different agenda/motive/points)
d) Genesis I + Genesis II = different stories, differences in terminology/references
e) Creation of the world = 4004 BCE (6 days and 1 of rest/sabbath)
(1) GENESIS I (1-2:4a = Priestly) (2:4b-3 = Yahuist)
(a) 1st day = LIGHT separated from darkness
(b) 2nd day = DOME in the midst of the waters to separate them (blue
(c) 3rd day = created dry land, separating it from the gathered waters of
the sea + vegetation
(d) 4th day = sun/moon/stars to give light to the earth (time designation)
(e) 5th day = created living creatures in the sea + winged birds
(f) 6th day = created man + woman (Adam + Eve) in his own image to
commune w him, meant to care for + cultivate the animals + earth
(g) 7th day = rested, blessed it, made the day holy
(h) Humans only prevented from eating FLESH
(2) GENESIS II 2: 4-11
(a) No plants/herbs/ no rain/ no one to till the land
(b) Man formed from dust to till the land, “overturn” the soil
(c) Eden (Garden) → East, tree of knowledge of Good + Evil
(d) Humans prevented from eating fruit from Tree of Knowledge + good/evil
(1) (J narrative) Explanation for flood: ppl began to multiply, numbered their days
to 120 years
(2) Genesis I: humans + god = separate, mingling→ havoc
(3) (J) God regretted making humans b/c they are wicked so he wanted to wipe
them off along w the animals + creatures as they were made for humans
(a) Spared Noah b/c he was righteous + blameless, walked with God
(4) ARK = 400 ft. long, 70ft wide (football field)
(5) Flood time differs according to narrative (40 days→ 10 months (150 days)) a
year until they were able to get off (6) Utnapishtim in Gilgamesh = same story of saving humanity + animals and was
granted immortality w his wife
(7) God tells Noah to go out + be fruitful + multiply again (restarting creation)
(8) 1st thing Noah does = built an altar, sacrifices “clean animals” → dietary
(a) Winged insects that stand on 4 legs = prohibited from eating
(b) Bats = prohibited
(9) God says he won’t do this again, realizes humans are evil in nature (born evil)
(11) ** of flood story: evils of humanity, we tend to give into our worst
impulses, humans should be vigilant to avoid disaster, awareness + vigilance
g) ABRAHAM (2100 BCE) central figure in all 3 religions (Egyptian book of dead +
Gilgamesh + Code of Hammurabi = written at same time)
(1) Abram→ Abraham, Sarai→ Sara
(2) Major themes: Israelites = semitic ppl of ancient near east, God’s chosen
people, Covenant, Faith + Doubt/ Exile + Return/ Loss + Recovery,
punishment + reward
(3) Took Sara + nephew Lot to promised land
(4) Lot + Abraham agreed to part ways with their people to avoid further conflict
(5) 1ST MUSLIM: 1ST TO SUBMIT TO GOD
F. NEW TESTAMENT: Christians appropriate Old/Jewish testament - revise + build up on it
a) NT canon= collection of texts/docs deemed significant/important (27 books- 8
b) Christology (study of Christ), his life/nature
2. 4 GOSPELS- speak about Jesus’ nature/being/life
a) Gospel of Matthew- birth stories of Jesus
(1) 1st one in order but Mark is written earlier.
b) Gospel of Mark- does not have birth stories
(1) Earliest Gospel but Matthew put 1st
(2) MK, Q (Basis for Gospels of Matthew + Luke)
(3) Q: miracles/healings/teachings
(4) People wanted to learn abt. Jesus before the spread of his message
(5) NO birth story, begins w John the Baptist preparing/predicting for jesus, =
announced as Messiah (6) Mark = passionate when describing Jesus “Passion” narrative- story of death +
(7) MAJOR THEMES: messianic secret (priests don’t know who Jesus is but
demons do), misunderstandings, messianic revelation/reinterpretations,
suffering before glory
(8) Liberation of a different sort (not political as when the Jews were ruled by the
Romans) Messiah= savior, redeemer, save the oppressed
(9) GOAL: everyone suffers, no glory w/out suffering. SUFFERING- what
everyone has to do to be saved/redeemed
(10) More historical analysis /oppressive regime + messianic saving vs.
c) Gospel of Luke- birth stories of Jesus
d) Gospel of John- does not have birth stories, different material + order of events from
e) Gospel of Thomas- Discovered in 20th century Nag Hammadi library, Egypt
(1) written by Didymos (twin) JUDAS, Thomas (semitic=twin)
(2) Focus on the spiritual world instead of the material
(3) 114 Sayings/statements of Jesus
(4) Gnostic literature, NOT CANONICAL LIKE THE OTHERS
(a) Esoteric: meant for a small, in-the-know group of people who would
(b) Important notion of KNOWLEDGE
(c) Proposes mind-body dualism (associated w divinity) Soul = good, Body
= evil (You are a divine spirit trapped in a material body)
(d) GOAL: liberated soul from body trap, fast = feed the soul instead of the
body’s earthly desires, celibacy. **SUFFERING to not give into earthly
desires (related to MARK)**
(5) Never mentions death of JC
(6) Philosophical truth telling vs. MARK (eg. fleshless Jesus)
3. Acts (of Apostles) (1)
4. Epistles/Letters (21) → Paul sets up churches + communities, received a revelation (Paul
never met Jesus)
a) OLDEST docs*** + precede Gospels**
b) Letters of earliest followers of JC to Christian communities (Paul= earliest + most
5. Book of revelation/Apocalypse- end of world/time (dramatic, radical disruption) G. MARY + JOSEPH
1. Mary visits Jesus’ tomb 3 days after he died on the cross + finds it empty
2. Joseph: direct descendent of David
1. Predicted to arrive in the Old Testament, Messiah + Christ figure→ God’s reincarnate/son
2. Messianic secret
3. Idea of plenty
a) Suffering = necessary but will be relieved
I. DOME OF THE ROCK (680 CE) where 2 temples were originally before destroyed= islamic
1. Prophet Muhammad traveled from Mecca→ Jerusalem
a) Has 114 surahs (like 114 sayings in Gospel of Thomas)
b) Meant to be seen + heard (oral entity) (not meant to be a historical narrative)
c) Revelation from God to the prophet Muhammad
d) Physical artefact
e) Suppress desires to please God→ lifestyle
f) GOD = compassionate, merciful but judging
g) THEMES: creation, hell, prophets, rules, regulations, guidelines, who are we as
humans in relation to God? What is our purpose + relationship to God/others?
h) Knowledge presented more referentially vs. Gospel of Thomas (knowledge used to
discover inner divinity)
i) Surah: broken down into verses, (SHORTER ONES IN THE BACK= OLDER, GIVEN
SOONER TO MUHAMMAD)
j) Not ordered chronologically or topically
k) **MAIN MESSAGE** God creates, what he does, capable but no set order given to it
2. 5 PILLARS:
a) Shahada: Faith.
b) Salat: Prayer.
c) Zakāt: Charity.
d) Sawm: Fasting.
e) Hajj: Pilgrimage to Mecca.
3. 6 MAJOR BELIEFS:
a) Belief in God b) Belief in angels
c) Belief in messengers
d) Belief in revelations/books (messengers bring)
e) Belief in Day of Judgement
f) Belief in predestination
a) Earliest inscriptions talk about Muhammad ascending through various levels of
b) Following Muhammad’s example is the best way to become a pious person because
Prophet Muhammad is Allah’s messenger and is a role model to all Muslims. He is
considered to be the “perfect man” and this standard can be reached by following
(1) For example:
(a) Prophet Muhammad once said “ Marriage is my Sunna. Whoever
refrains from my sunna, refrains from me”. Therefore, Muslims are
encouraged to involve in marriage because it is an encouraged act that
5. WIFE FATIMA, DAUGHTER + SON IN LAW ALI, HUSAYN +
a) Fatima was the youngest daughter of the Prophet, and the only one of his children to
have male offspring live beyond childhood, whose descendants (Sayyids) spread
throughout the Islamic world. She is a role model for females in Islam and is
significant in that she kept the Prophet’s lineage alive.
b) Ali, cousin and son-in-law of the prophet, is considered the fourth Rashidun caliph by
Sunnis. Born in the Kaaba in Mecca, he was a devoted and pious Muslim. He is
significant because the disagreement about his position in the caliphate is what led to
the split of Islam into the Sunni and Shi’a branches; Sunnis believe him to be the
fourth and final caliph but Shiite s see him as the first Imam after Muhammad. Was
not able to retain his power after the Battle of Siffin.
II. Use of Imagery in Prayer: (also the use of intermediaries - like Husayn)
A. Sunni: do not use any pictorial representations nor do they use any intermediaries; short answer is
bc it gets too close to shirk/idolatry because:
1. The Qur'an does not prohibit making images, only worshipping them.
2. Hadith clearly and consistently prohibits all images of any living being, with special
mention of punishment for painters. Shi'ites tend to be more open to religious images
than Sunnis. The main reason given for not depicting Muhammad is to avoid the
temptation to worship the image.
B. Shi’ite: use images of husayn, the prophet and others as tools to maintain focus while praying &
use husayn for example to intercede on their behalf
1. [they argue it is not shirk bc they are still praying to God and only using the images as
tools/aids not as replacement but must be careful not to take it too far into shirk]
2. Prayer methods
- Sunni - may use ascetic methods like fasting (like for ashura -rooted in hadith/sunna) but not to any
extreme of causing harm to oneself
- Shiite - celebrating ashura (specifically the death/murder of husayn which coincided the day) by hitting
themselves to commemorate and connect with the suffering/death of Husayn - Shi’ite Chain of Imams. Community must always be guided by an Imam and without guidance or without
an Imam there is no proof of this world. The first Imam was Ali. Ilham - the inspiration to be able to
interpret and understand the divine knowledge. Esoteric - that this inner knowledge is not available to
everyone. Only some are born or blessed with it.
Egyptian Book of the Dead
● Instructions to get in + be happy in the afterlife
● Knowing the names of gods as a sign of respect is very important.
● Spells required to keep body in tact and to protect oneself from attack in the afterlife
● Book of practicality, instruction manual
● NOT a finite text, unlike the Bible. NOT a collection of doctrine or statement of faith or law code.
● Spells help you succeed in your trip, control your body after death, make sure you have all your body
● BELIEF: if you had access to the spells, you could gain acceptance into paradise.
○ Trip wasn't easy after death, deceased would embark on a journey confronted by dangers.
○ Successful journey required utterance
Code of Hammurabi
● Babylonian Law code of ancient Mesopotamia written in 750 BC,
● Social contract, harsh punishments, defines marriage structures, uses ethos and divinity to enforce
● Cosmic laws
● Hammurabi = famous Mesopotamian King
● Reflects biblical laws (Leviticus: an eye for an eye)
● Wealthy + commoners + slaves → no distinction, assumed the natural roles were already realized by the
● Women could not take $$ for their service if they were an innkeeper, get paid in corn only
● Divorce permissible- men were allowed to but women needed a specific reason
● Epic of Gilgamesh
● Temple prostitute: used to get the gods of fertility
● Temple prostitute who civilizes Enkidu + teaches about civilization.
● When Enkidu was a savage she sabotaged him with her beauty, after they copulate for 6 days and 7
nights the animals he once was roamed with are now afraid as they can smell her scent on him and they
realize he is not one of them.
● MESOPOTAMIAN WOMAN ARTICLE:
○ Only “respectable” women wear veils, not the harlots + public servants
○ priest/temple’s prostitute = “sister of a god”
● Ancient king + hero of Uruk. Kings= intermediaries b/w gods + men
● ⅓ human, ⅔ divine, ego= hubris (arrogance ● Goddess mother + mortal father, EANNA TEMPLE
● URUK defensive wall = monumental legacy
● Epic of Gilgamesh= oldest discovered written story (3 BCE)
○ Range of interpretations: death is inevitable, avoid hubris in excess, listen to others, be humble,
relationships are important, **story= lesson for future kings on how to eat
● Abused his power, hubris until Enkidu balances him out & he realizes mortality and seeks eternal life from
Utnapishtim. Realizes he cannot have eternal life and focuses on his legacy in the city
● Story similar to BIBLICAL FLOOD STORY
● Snake in story→ similar to snake in story of Genesis, later Satan was projected onto snake
● Made of clay by the goddess Aruru after King Gilgamesh’s people complain he is being too abusive.
● Originally a savage, introduced to civilization by the temple prostitute Shamhat. She tells Enkidu of the
city Uruk and its king Gilgamesh, he travels there and engages in a wrestling match with him. Gilgamesh
wins and they become besties. He becomes Gilgamesh’s right hand and helps him defeat the Humbaba,
guardian of the Cedar Forest and Gugalanna, the bull of heaven.
● Killed in place of Gilgamesh for cutting down the cedar after battle with Humbaba and the bull.
● Represents the hero who wins fame but dies early
● His death sends Gilgamesh on the quest to Utnapishtim for eternal life.
“finger is pointed”
● Code of Hammurabi: “If the "finger is pointed" at a man's wife about another man, but she is not caught
sleeping with the other man, she shall jump into the river for [the sake of her] husband.”
● What: Code 132 -- describes that if a man points at a wife for having an affair but she is not caught physically
having the affair but she is not caught having the affair, then she must jump into river.
● Exposes wide gap between man and woman. Death is only punishment.
● Principle of Oneness* the idea that there is One Land. One people. One Nation. One God. He uses
scarcity to keep people afraid and understanding of his power and the exclusivity of the covenant.
● Exodus (Hebrew narrative)
● Scarcity of blessing (sons of Isaac = Esau + Jacob → (2nd story of sibling rivalry, Jacob steals Esau’s
blessing, none left for him)
Curse of Cain/ Rebuilding Babel
● Bible encodes western myth of collective identity, (“we are “us” because we are not “them””)
● Collective identity linked to monotheism/exclusive worship
● God is strangely withholding instead of infinitely giving
● *Scarcity*: principle of Oneness (one land, one people, one nation, one Deity)- demand of exclusive
allegiance that threatens with the voice of exclusion.
● Original sin= Adam and Eve disobeying God
● Cain = 1st murderer, 1st outcast as a result
○ We are the heirs of Cain b/w we murder our brothers, we kill for similar reasons
○ Feels excluded, kills brother, is actually excluded
● Universalism = needed → Deutero/Isaiah’s sentiment = Israel = light to the nations
● BIble scholars→ Bible not the word of God, = written by individuals + schools in specific historical
● Nationalism not explicitly ordered by God; replaces God. (born in 18th cent. W the masses) Noah
● Important biblical patriarch.
● Father of Shem Ham and Japheth.
● God tells Noah that he is flooding the earth to cleanse it of human sin, so Noah must build an ark to
recreate the world.
● Covenant that god will never again send a flood.
● After the flood, Noah is drunk and naked in his tent, Ham saw but didn't help + told his brothers.
● Brothers get Noah garments so Noah curses Canaan, Hams son.
● His story originates in the Epic of Gilgamesh: Utnapishtim = similarly warned that humanity and the
animals will be wiped out unless he builds a boat, those on it will survive.
● God wanted to wipe the earth of humankind after realizing they were evil and they continued to
misbehave, but allowed some animals and humans to survive by passing the time of the flood on his
large boat/ark (reversal of creation).
● After flood, start eating halal/kosher meat
● Book of Genesis
● An agreement between two or more people. God makes a covenant with Abraham in which he promises
him a long lineage and land.
● b/w God and Israelites (divine command, divine promise); promises made, promises, God’s never-ending
Spells: Book of Exodus
● Causes something magical to occur.
● Magic was used by the Egyptians to create different snakes to compete against Moses snake that was
formed from his staff but all of the Egyptian’s snakes lost.
● Part of the covenant/promise b/w Abraham + God .
● According to G