Western Religions Explained

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The Thinking Strings Explained™ series of eBooks offers high-quality, low-cost alternatives to traditional textbook content. Written by respected scholars in their disciplines, Explained™ eBooks are designed to be read on-screen. Their responsive format means they are comfortably read on a computer, a tablet, or smartphone. To facilitate learning, the main point of each paragraph of text precedes it in bold.

Western Religions Explained™ includes six chapters, covering Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, along with chapters on the academic study of religion, indigenous religions, and religious pluralism in the 21st century. Students explore the principles and practice of Western religious traditions in a clearly organized framework. The chapters can be studied in whatever order the instructor prefers.

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Note: Western Religions Explained™ is included for student use at no charge with adoption of Revealing® Western Religions.

Author: Cynthia Eller, Ph.D. (Claremont Graduate University)

About the author: Revealing® Western Religions and Western Religions Explained™

Cynthia Eller is Professor of Religion at Claremont Graduate University and Editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. She has written numerous books in the fields of women and religion, ethics, and women’s studies, including Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America (Boston: Beacon Press, 1995) and The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won’t Give Women a Future (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000).

Dr. Eller regularly teaches introductory courses in religion and world religions. Like all religion faculty, she hopes to draw her students into an appreciation of the world’s religions and instill a desire in her students to explore further through upper-division classes.

Highlights

Western Religions Explained™ Highlights

  • Students explore the principles and practice of the world’s major contemporary religions in a clearly organized framework.
  • Designed for adoption in college and university world religions courses. Affordable student cost.
  • Instructors who adopt Revealing® Western Religions receive access to Western Religions Explained™ at no charge to their students.

Contents

Copyright © 2004-2016, Thinking Strings, LLC

Table of Contents

Exploring Religion

What is Religion?

  • Goals: What is Religion?
  • Religion & Religions
  • One Reality or Many?
  • Defining Religion
  • Theoretical, Practical, Sociological
  • Religious Specialists
  • Religious Syncretism
  • Summary: What is Religion?

Types of Religions

  • Goals: Types of Religions
  • Eastern & Western Religions
  • Families of Religions
  • Ethnic & Universal
  • Theisms
  • The Ineffable
  • Atheism & Agnosticism
  • Summary: Types of Religions

Studying Religion

  • Goals: Studying Religion
  • Why Is There Religion?
  • Functionalism
  • Theorists of Religion
  • Ways to Study Religion
  • Belief & Unbelief
  • Why Study Religion?
  • The Religious Quest
  • Summary: Studying Religion

Indigenous Religions

Defining Indigenous Religions

  • Goals: Defining Indigenous Religions
  • The Great World Religions
  • Terms for Indigenous Religions
  • Indigenous Religions & Prehistoric Religion
  • Religion & the Means of Subsistence
  • Significance of Orality
  • Diversity of Indigenous Religions
  • Diversity of Indigenous Religions
  • How Many Practice Indigenous Religion?
  • Summary: Defining Indigenous Religions

Interpreting Indigenous Religions

  • Goals: Interpreting Indigenous Religions
  • What Indigenous Religions Can Teach Us
  • Sacred Time & Sacred Place
  • Deities & Spirits
  • Sacrifice
  • Rites of Passage
  • Divination
  • Healing
  • Afterlife
  • Summary: Interpreting Indigenous Religions

Religions of Australia & the Pacific

  • Goals: Religions of Australia & the Pacific
  • Religions of Oceania
  • Migrations to the South Pacific
  • Life in the South Pacific
  • European Contact
  • Mana
  • Tabu
  • Religious Variety in Oceania
  • Australian Aboriginal Religion
  • Religions of the Pacific Islands
  • Summary: Australia & the Pacific

Case Studies: Religions of Oceania

  • The Yolngu
  • The John Frum Cult
  • The Maori
  • Summary: Case Studies in Oceania

Native North American Religions

  • Goals: Native North American Religions
  • Populating the Americas
  • Native American Diversity
  • Sacred Animals
  • Vision Quests
  • Agricultural Ceremonialism
  • Impact of European Conquest
  • Pan-Indianism
  • Native American Religions Today
  • Growing Up Native American
  • Summary: Native North American Religions

Case Studies: Native North America

  • Goals: Native North America
  • The Lakota
  • The Zuni
  • Ghost Dance Religion
  • Summary: Native North America

Traditional African Religions

  • Goals: Traditional African Religions
  • The Mother Continent
  • African Religious Diversity
  • Christianity & Islam in Africa
  • Religions in Africa Today
  • Religions of Practice
  • High God
  • Intermediary Spirits
  • Witchcraft, Divination, Magic, Healing
  • African Rites of Passage
  • Summary: Traditional African Religions

Case Studies: African Religions

  • Goals: Case Studies: African Religions
  • The Zulu
  • The Yoruba
  • Mami Wata
  • Summary: Case Studies: African Religions

Afro-Caribbean Religions

  • Goals: Afro-Caribbean Religions
  • Religions of the African Diaspora
  • Santeria
  • History of Haitian Vodou
  • Vodou Cosmology
  • The Lwa
  • The Lwa & Catholic Saints
  • Vodou Practice
  • Becoming Vodou
  • Summary: Afro-Caribbean Religions

Judaism

Basic Principles of Judaism

  • Goals: Basic Principles of Judaism
  • Monotheism in Judaism
  • Iconoclasm in Judaism
  • The Chosen People
  • An Ethnic Religion
  • The Sacred in History
  • Orthopraxis
  • Jewish Theology
  • 13 Principles of Faith
  • Summary: Basic Principles of Judaism

Cultural Context of Judaism

  • Goals: Cultural Context
  • A Minority Religion
  • Anti-Semitism
  • Ghettoes
  • Jews & Banking
  • Blood Libel
  • The Holocaust
  • Warsaw Ghetto
  • Survival of the Jewish People
  • Summary: Cultural Context

Hebrew Scriptures

  • Goals: Hebrew Scriptures
  • Hebrew Bible
  • Torah
  • Prophets & Writings
  • Talmud
  • Midrash
  • Mishnah
  • Gemara
  • Page from the Talmud
  • Study, Learning, & Debate
  • Summary: Hebrew Scriptures

Ancient History of Judaism

  • Goals: Ancient History of Judaism
  • A Herding People
  • Judaism & the Creation of the World
  • Covenant with Abraham
  • Jacob & His Sons
  • Jewish Patriarchs
  • The Exodus
  • Kingdom of Israel
  • Second Temple Period
  • The Diaspora
  • Summary: Ancient History of Judaism

The Jewish Diaspora

  • Goals: The Jewish Diaspora
  • From Temple to Synagogue
  • Judaism Under the Roman Empire
  • Sephardim
  • Matriliny
  • Ashkenazim
  • Kabbalah
  • Shabbatai Tzvi
  • Hasidim
  • Beginnings of Reform Judaism
  • Summary: The Jewish Diaspora

Judaism in America

  • Goals: Judaism in America
  • Jewish Migration to America
  • Reform Judaism
  • Orthodox Judaism
  • Conservative Judaism
  • Reconstructionist Judaism
  • Intermarriage
  • Summary: Judaism in America

The State of Israel

  • Goals: The State of Israel
  • State of Israel
  • Theodor Herzl
  • Proposed Zionist Homelands
  • Jewish Immigration to Palestine
  • Creation of the State of Israel
  • State of Israel Today
  • Tensions Within Israel
  • Population of Israel
  • Western Wall
  • Summary: The State of Israel

Jewish Practice

  • Goals: Jewish Practice
  • Jewish Prayer
  • Dressing for Prayer
  • Sh’ma
  • Shabbat
  • Reading the Torah
  • Laws of Kashrut
  • Levels of Jewish Observance
  • Summary: Jewish Practice

Jewish Holidays

  • Goals: Jewish Holidays
  • The Jewish Calendar
  • High Holy Days
  • Major Jewish Holidays
  • Passover
  • Shavuot & Sukkot
  • Simchat Torah
  • Hanukkah
  • Purim
  • Commemorative Holidays
  • Summary: Jewish Holidays

Jewish Rites of Passage

  • Goals: Jewish Rites of Passage
  • Brit Milah
  • Baby Namings
  • Bar & Bat Mitzvah
  • Jewish Weddings
  • Mourning
  • Summary: Jewish Rites of Passage

Women in Judaism

  • Goals: Women in Judaism
  • Judaism as a Male-Dominated Religion
  • Matriarchs & Heroines
  • Women’s Role in Judaism
  • Niddah
  • Marriage & Divorce in Judaism
  • Women Rabbis
  • Jewish Feminism
  • Summary: Women in Judaism

Christianity

Jesus

  • Goals: Jesus
  • Jesus’s Early Life
  • Social Context for Jesus’s Life
  • Jesus’s Birth
  • What Jesus Taught
  • Jesus as a Jew
  • God, Jesus’s Father
  • Jesus’s Ministry
  • Jesus’s Crucifixion
  • Jesus’s Resurrection & Ascension
  • Summary: Jesus

Early Christianity

  • Goals: Early Christianity
  • Jesus Movement as a Jewish Sect
  • Paul
  • The Gentiles
  • Doctrine of the Atonement
  • Early Spread of Christianity
  • Summary: Early Christianity

Christian Scriptures

  • Goals: Christian Scriptures
  • Old Testament
  • New Testament
  • Establishment of the Canon
  • The Gospels
  • The Synoptic Gospels
  • John
  • The Acts of the Apostles
  • The Epistles
  • The Book of Revelation
  • Summary: Christian Scriptures

After the Fall of Rome

  • Goals: After the Fall of Rome
  • Under the Roman Empire
  • Gnosticism
  • The Religion of the Empire
  • Augustine
  • Wrestling Over Christian Doctrine
  • The Byzantine Empire
  • First Schism in Christianity
  • Catholicism & Eastern Orthodoxy
  • Christian Monasticism
  • Summary: After the Fall of Rome

Medieval Christianity

  • Goals: Medieval Christianity
  • Medieval Monasticism
  • The Virgin Mary
  • Christian Pilgrimage
  • The Crusades
  • The Inquisition
  • The Muslim Triumph
  • Cultural Impact of the Crusades
  • Thomas Aquinas
  • On the Eve of Reformation
  • Summary: Medieval Christianity

The Protestant Reformation

  • Goals: Protestant Reformation
  • Martin Luther
  • Luther’s Theology
  • The Lutheran Church
  • John Calvin
  • Double Predestination
  • Henry VIII, King of England
  • The Radical Reformation
  • Witchcraft Persecutions
  • The Catholic Reformation
  • Summary: Protestant Reformation

Christian Practices

  • Goals: Christian Practices
  • Diversity of Christian Practices
  • Sacraments
  • Baptism
  • Eucharist
  • Confirmation & Reconciliation
  • Marriage & Holy Orders
  • Unction
  • Christian Prayer
  • Christian Art & Music
  • Summary: Christian Practices

Christian Holidays

  • Goals: Christian Holidays
  • The Liturgical Year
  • Advent
  • Christmas
  • Lent
  • Easter
  • Ascension
  • Pentecost
  • Saints’ Days
  • The Assumption of Mary
  • Summary: Christian Holidays

Christianity in the 21st Century

  • Goals: Into the 21st Century
  • Christian Denominations
  • Revivalism
  • New Christian Denominations
  • Roman Catholicism in America
  • Religious Pluralism in America
  • The Ecumenical Impulse
  • Pentecostalism
  • Global Christianity
  • The Future of Christianity
  • Summary: Into the 21st Century

Islam

The Life of Mohammed

  • Goals: Life of Mohammed
  • Religion in Ancient Arabia
  • Mohammed’s Early life
  • The First Revelation
  • Mohammed & the Meccans
  • Night Journey
  • Hijrah
  • Islam Under Mohammed
  • Mohammed’s Family
  • Summary: Life of Mohammed

Islamic Texts

  • Goals: Islamic Texts
  • Quran
  • Biblical Figures in the Quran
  • Arabic & the Quran
  • Significance of the Quran
  • Quranic Recitation
  • Quranic Calligraphy
  • The Hadith
  • Sharia
  • Islamic Philosophy
  • Summary: Islamic Texts

Major Tenets of Islam

  • Goals: Major Tenets of Islam
  • Islamic Monotheism
  • No Original Sin
  • No Value Placed on Celibacy
  • Afterlife in Islam
  • Islam & Judaism
  • Islam & Christianity
  • The Prophet
  • People of the Book
  • Angels, Spirits, & Jinn
  • Summary: Major Tenets of Islam

Islamic Religious Practices

  • Goals: Islamic Religious Practices
  • Five Pillars of Islam
  • Testimony
  • Prayer
  • Charity
  • Fasting
  • Islamic Pilgrimage
  • Jihad
  • Dietary Restrictions
  • Islamic Rites of Passage
  • Summary: Islamic Religious Practices

History of Islam

  • Goals: History of Islam
  • Early Expansion
  • The Caliphate
  • Umayyad Dynasty
  • The Sunni/Shia Split
  • Shia Islam
  • Abbasid Dynasty
  • Later Islamic Empires
  • End of the Islamic Empires
  • Summary: History of Islam

Sufism

  • Goals: Sufism
  • Islamic Mysticism
  • Rabia al-Adawiyya
  • Controversies Over Sufism
  • Sufi Orders
  • Sufi Practices
  • Rumi
  • Sufism Today
  • Summary: Sufism

Islamic Resurgence

  • Goals: Islamic Resurgence
  • Islam & the Modern World
  • Islamic States in the 20th Century
  • Modern Turkey
  • Modern Iran
  • Other Islamic States
  • Islamic Revivalism
  • Islamic Reform
  • Summary: Islamic Resurgence

Islam Around the World

  • Goals: Islam Around the World
  • Islam in Asia
  • Islam in Africa
  • Islam in Europe
  • Islam in America
  • African-American Islam
  • Summary: Islam Around the World

Women & Islam

  • Goals: Women & Islam
  • Role of Women in Islam
  • Women & the Prophet
  • Women in the Quran
  • Women in the Hadith
  • The Veil
  • Islamic Feminism
  • Summary: Women & Islam

Religious Pluralism

The World’s Religions

  • Goals: The World’s Religions
  • Making Meaningful Comparisons
  • Universal & Ethnic Religions
  • Orthopraxis & Orthodoxy
  • Sacred Time
  • Founders, Prophets, & Teachers
  • Sex, Life, & Death
  • One God or Many?
  • Summary: The World’s Religions

New Religious Movements

  • Goals: New Religious Movements
  • Religious Change
  • Millennial Movements
  • Universalist Religions
  • Nature Religions
  • New Age Religions
  • Summary: New Religious Movements

Religion in the 21st Century

  • Goals: The 21st Century
  • The Secularization Thesis
  • Fundamentalism
  • Interreligious Dialogue
  • Women’s Religious Leadership
  • Religion in Popular Culture
  • Looking Forward
  • Summary: The 21st Century