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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Martin S. Jaffee
RELIG 201
Seattle Campus

Introduction to World Religions: Western Traditions

History of religions, concentrating on religious traditions that have developed west of the Indus. Primary attention to the Semitic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and to their ancient world background with emphasis on basic conceptual and symbolic structures.

Class description

The course offers a comparative introduction to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam within the historical and social setting of globalization. Specific terms of comparison include: nature of Scriptures, theological traditions, patterns of worship and ritual, forms of religious authority, ethical paradigms, material culture, and place of politics in religious society.The course attempts to ask how the rapid globalization processes of the past century in particular have posed challenges to the great monotheistic religions that originated in the middle east.

Student learning goals

Familiarity with the fundamental history, beliefs, and practices of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Ability to describe the role of long-term historical processes (globalization, modernization, secularization)in the shaping of Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Ability to grasp the logic of ideas, worldviews, and lifestyles that one does not personally share

Ability to intelligently chose terms and topics for comparative study

Ability to distinguish the crucial from the trivial in cross-cultural comparison

General method of instruction

Lectures and discussion sections, the latter directed by TAs drawn from graduate students in the Comparative Religion program.

Recommended preparation

Timely completion of reading assignments and attendance at lectures and discussion sections is highly recommended.

Class assignments and grading

Reading assignments are normally about 20 pages per class session.

There are usually 4 take-home essay exams. Excellent classroom contributions in the form of good questions or helpful observations are a factor in evaluation.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Martin S. Jaffee
Date: 09/30/2009