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Aims and Scope The nature and origin of Jewish mysticism is a controversial subject. This volume explores the subject by examining both the Hebrew and Aramaic tradition Dead Sea Scrolls, 1 Enoch and the Greek philosophical tradition Philo and also examines the Christian transformation of Jewish mysticism in Paul and Revelation. It provides for a nuanced treatment that differentiates different strands of thought that may be considered mystical.

The Hebrew tradition is mythical in nature and concerned with various ways of being in the presence of God. The Greek tradition allows for a greater degree of unification and participation in the divine. The New Testament texts are generally closer to the Greek tradition, although Greek philosophy would have a huge effect on later Christian mysticism. The book is intended for scholars and advanced students of ancient Judaism and early Christianity. User Account Log in Register Help. In addition, while the liturgical song of first-century Judaism would naturally have been part of the musical milieu of the earliest Christians, it is likely that as Christianity spread beyond the confines of Homeland and Diaspora Judaism, which it did very early in its history, non-Jewish musical idioms also found a place in Christian worship at an early date.

Music in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity

There is evidence to suggest that this was so. It is important to be true to the sources, pointing out what they cannot tell us as well as what they can. By pointing out what cannot be known at present, as well as what can, I have hoped to establish a more nuanced approach to the available evidence, and thereby illuminate areas where further research is needed. For a list of my published work, visit Published work in the navigation panel on the bar above.

Search this site. Work as an independent scholar. Students gain a perspective on the Biblical, Christian, and Classical traditions as well as on the political, literary, philosophical, and theological context of medieval Europe. This course is the second segment of a two-semester sequence on the Divine Comedy. The purpose of the sequence is to introduce students to the liberal arts through one of the most significant texts in Western civilization. This course introduces the student to the field of archaeology through three units of study: 1 The history of excavation from ancient to modern times, 2 The techniques of excavation and the analysis of material remains, 3 Modern theories of cultural interpretation of archaeological sites.

Some major themes in Plato will be intensively explored, such as The Soul and its part, the immortality of The Soul, the nature of learning, Eros and philosophic passion, and others.

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Mostly discussion. This course explores the religion of the ancient Romans from the time of the founding of the city of Rome in the eighth century BC to the end of the Roman imperial period in the fifth century AD.

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In this seminar, we will examine ancient Christian sources from the first four centuries CE that focus on women's lives and women's religious experiences. Topics include: the debates over women's religious authority, the prominence of female martyrs, the relationship between women and heresy, virginity and sexual renunciation, the Christian family, forms of female asceticism and Christian holy women, and the role of women in the 'rise' of Christianity. Examination of the intersection of religion and healing by examining the range of ways in which people understood and responded to the experience of illness and physical suffering in Greco-Roman antiquity and the various means by which they sought healing.

An examination of the history and literature of the varieties of Judaism in the Greco-Roman world from the time of the Babylonian Exile until the destruction of the Second Temple and its aftermath. Provides a survey of the major Jewish philosophers from both the medieval period e. This seminar will examine the representation of Orthodox Jews by American Jews on both page and screen. This course should equip you to understand—historically and critically—the core factors in this contemporary culture war such as gender, religious authority, political affiliation as well as to empathetically appreciate current concern over acculturation, Americanization, and Jewish continuity.

Jewish immigration in the U. In this seminar, we will read some of the classic works of modern Jewish philosophy. The American Jewish experience, from the Eastern European immigrant experience to the recent religious revival, through the lens of Jewish women's literature.

Survey of modern Hebrew classics in English translation up to The themes of land, language, and identity are explored in modern Hebrew literature written in Europe and Palestine prior to By combining the examination of primary sources, the use of media, and the access to relevant digital materials, the course explores Jewish experience in Renaissance and early modern Italy, with a focus on Venice. Topics discussed will include the institution of the first ghetto in history, the economic role of Jewish merchants and moneylenders, Jews, crypto-Jews, and Judaizers in front of the Venetian Inquisition, and Jewish everyday life on the lagoon.

The "rise of Christianity" from being a small, persecuted Jewish movement to the dominant religion in the Roman Empire was not smooth; it was fraught with conflict and tension as Christians struggled with one another as well as outsiders as they sought to spread their message and to develop their own self-understanding as a new religious movement. In this course, we will study the social, cultural, and literary developments of ancient Christianity; we will focus on such issues as Christians' relationships with Jews and Romans, internal divisions among Christians orthodoxy and heresy , the experience of persecution and martyrdom, the struggles over leadership and authority, the position of women in the early Christian movement, the formation of the Christian canon, and the emergence of Christian asceticism.

Though we often assume that religion deals with the spirit or the soul, the earliest Christians were deeply and primarily concerned with the body. In this course, we examine the multiple and various early Christian debates and practices relating to the body focusing in particular on issues related to physical suffering, death, sexuality, identity, and asceticism. Drawing up on historical and contemporary examples, students will read a range of classic and contemporary theories that attempt to explain the complex relationship between religion and violence. Topics include sacrifice, scapegoating, war, terrorism, domination, sanctified violence, violent religious fantasy, martyrdom, end times, etc.

Is religion inherently violent? What is the relationship between religion and nationality? Religion and constructions of alterity?


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How can a religion claim to be concerned with peace and non-violence yet promote violence? Coursework consists of significant reading, seminar discussions, several response papers, and one major book review. Three formative philosophical treatments of religious belief on such topics as the existence of God, freedom, providence, and evil. Examines the emergence and evolution of Christianity from its 1st century roots in Palestinian Judaism and Jesus until the early 16th century and the pre-Reformation period.

In the 15th century the western or Roman Catholic Church was in a state of crisis.

Papal governance was in question, there were widespread abuses of power, and calls for reform were being articulated throughout Christendom. In Martin Luther unleashed an unstoppable movement that would lead to the division of western Christianity into two opposing forces — Protestant and Catholic. Others followed in this wake. This course will examine how western Christianity has evolved from the 16th century to the present by using primary sources that help us understand the evolution of Christian thought from the Reformation to the present.

Short, on-going reflection papers, along with class participation, are required. Varied paradigms of Christianity's relationship with the social world, from early Christianity to the present. We will also examine the social worlds in which they think and write, thus trying to see the connection between their ideas and the social environments they want to liberate.

Attitudes to Gentiles in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity

Cultural and political relationships between religion and Latin American societies, from pre-Conquest religious systems and their continued presence in indigenous people to the symbiotic relation between church and state in Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia. In this course we will examine the principal historical events that have transpired over the years as the Catholic Church expanded from its colonial origins, became a church of immigrants, and subsequently part of the established social order.

Short reflection papers are required throughout the semester. On the 31st of October Martin Luther tacked 95 theological challenges to medieval Catholic beliefs on a cathedral door.


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It permanently altered the western European world. Yet Luther was only a part of broad efforts to reform medieval Catholicism, many of which preceded Luther and many more would follow in the wake of his actions. Although related to problems in the church, the reform movement was also connected to complex economic, intellectual, and socio-political forces that were already at play.

Music in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity by John Arthur Smith

The purpose of this course is to examine what happened and why. The course will be conducted as a seminar and will require active participation and short essays. Case studies in Native American cultures where the visual arts articulate religious and philosophical systems of thought. Is it possible to communicate with the dead? This course examines how followers of American Spiritualism sought to grapple with this very question.

Specifically, it takes students on a historical journey from the early development of modern Spiritualism in upstate New York to current forms as expressed by African American Spiritual Churches in New Orleans. Class format includes lectures, discussions, films, and field trips.

Selections from the Qur'an, with discussion of religious, literary, and historical dimensions of the text. An examination of the history, literature, religion, and philosophy produced by Jews, Muslims, and Christians in medieval al-Andalus. Islamic mystical experience and theory and their importance to religion, philosophy, art, and literature. An advanced introduction to mystical life in Islam which studies mystical experience and theory and traces the importance of Islamic mysticism to religion, philosophy, art, and literature as found in medieval and modern Muslim societies.

In this course students read and analyze Islamic mystical verse in English translation largely from Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu. Following an intensive introduction to Islamic mysticism, specific poems are studied with particular attention given to the religious contents and functions of this verse and to its place within its respective poetic tradition. Effects of Third World political, social, and economic factors on contemporary Islam. Case-studies will be drawn from contemporary Muslim societies, with particular attention to the subjects of Muslim women, the rise of Islamic movements in the 20thst centuries, and instances of global religious violence involving Muslims.

This course will study some of the important and often dramatic changes occurring in modern Islam by examining the effects on it of Third World political, social, and economic factors. We will trace the changing face of Christ over two centuries of Russian culture in the works of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Bulgakov and Pasternak. A comparative study of the heroic concept in light of Indo-European mythologies, particularly stories from the Sanskrit and Greek traditions. A course on theories of religion, which examines recent research on the intersection between religion and science, in particular cognitive science and evolutionary biology.

Ways in which women understand themselves as Hindus and the ways in which they have been understood. Hindu traditions highlight the importance of charismatic authority and various attainments as sources for understanding actions and gaining insight into the natural world and the human condition. In their attempt to connect the somatic experience of embodiment with the possibilities of the mind and even transcendental goals, Hindus describe sages, charismatics, teachers, and other concepts of "yogin" and "guru" as masterful examples of human possibilities.

We'll explore these characters and the various ways Hindus create the concept of the "powerful being", the human capable of extraordinary feats and accomplishments. We'll look at sages and polymaths, poets and storytellers, ascetics and householders, all understood to be healers and discerning contemplatives.