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RELS 131 (12)
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Department
Religious Studies
Course
RELS 131
Professor
Prof.
Semester
Winter

Description
OVERVIEW: DIVERSITY IN JUDAISM (PG 35 & 36) • Judaism’s present day diversity can be understood as the product of historical circumstances and development. • trace their spiritual lineage to the biblical figure Abraham. • small population of Jewish, 1-2% size of Christians and Muslims populations in the world • Each of Abrahamic faiths sees itself as continuing and fulfilling the mission of ancient Israel. • Is the Jewish heritage a religious heritage? The answer is both yes and no. Yes, because many people do identify themselves as Jews on the basis of religious participation. Some Jews have said yes to their identity as ethnic while answering no to the question of Jewish religion. North Americans, Europeans, and Israelis identify themselves as Jews but do not participate in the religious tradition. Religion to them is part of their culture. • The claim that the Jews are genetically a race, which was a basis for 21 century persecution, simply cannot be substantiated. • More than 7 million live in the Americas, and In US and Canada, there are 3 major groupings: - Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox. HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF JUDAISM (PG 37) • Torah contains the history of Israel but it is history written from a special perspective. It is the history of people as they understand and follow a God who chooses them as his instrument. The liberal wind of Judaism accepts modern canons of history and reserves the right to question aspects of the accuracy and historicity of the biblical texts. Whereas, the traditional wing, believes every word in the text to be literally true. CREATION OF GENESIS (PG 38) • The first 12 chapters describe the primeval history of the universe. Chapter 1, god creates heaven and earth. The text says that God creates different things on each ‘day’ of creation, culminating with the creation of humanity, male and female, on the sixth day. On the seventh day, God rests, setting the pattern of a weekly Sabbath. The text describes the order of time to proceed from evening to morning, so Jews celebrate the Sabbath starting at sundown Friday night and ending at sundown on Saturday. • Chapter 2, begins with God causing a mist to rise from the ground, out of which vegetation sprouts. He plants Garden of Eden and populates it with animals and the primal human couple. THE PRIMAL COUPLE (PG 39) • In genesis 2, theirs a naive innocence as they stand in nakedness and without shame. • Genesis 3 shows how this peace and harmony can be reversed. • The Eden story explains that the pain and evil of human life have come about through human disobedience. Banished from God’s immediate presence, people must live at a distance from God, though God still shows loving care even while expelling them. The narrative explains such varied things as why snakes crawl on the ground and bite human ankles, why women have pain in childbirth, why people have to work for a living, why we were clothes, why the sexes are different, why people are ashamed when naked, why we die, and why men and women feel sexual attraction to one another. Some of these are natural, some are cultural and others are ultimate issues of
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