Revealing® Western Religions

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

About the author: Revealing® Western Religions

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. In Revealing® World Religions and Revealing® Religion, Dr. Eller has developed digital texts that convey basic concepts and subject matter, illustrate lived religion in a compelling way, and reinforce learning in ways unavailable with a printed text. These courseware titles are a new kind of textbook for a new generation of learners.


Revealing® Western Religions Highlights

  • Students explore the principles and practice of the major contemporary western religions in a clearly organized framework.
  • Uses cutting edge multimedia technologies. Narration, animation, and sound enliven the learning experience.
  • Achievement Profile emphasizes progress and acts as a clearly organized table of contents and navigational hub.
  • Assistance Palette includes integrated Bibliography, Glossary, Search, Recent Pages, Notes, Review, and Support tabs.
  • Try-Its encourage analytic understanding of content.
  • Designed for adoption in college and university western religions courses. Affordable student cost.
  • Instructors who adopt Revealing® Western Religions for class use receive access to the time-saving Thinking Strings Interactive Grade Book® at no charge.
  • Runs on both Apple Macintosh® and Windows® computers.
  • Podcast available for portable study.
  • Content is fully customizable to meet the needs of specific courses. Contact us for more details.


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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: Studying Religion


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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: Women in Judaism



  • 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: Into the 21st Century


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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: History of Islam


  • Goals: Sufism
  • Islamic Mysticism
  • Rabia al-Adawiyya
  • Controversies Over Sufism
  • Sufi Orders
  • Sufi Practices
  • Rumi
  • Sufism Today
  • Summary: Sufism
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: 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
  • Try It: The 21st Century

Watch the videos…

Click the links below to watch short videos about features of Revealing® World Religions.

Students are offered a compelling look at the principles and practice of some of the world’s major religions. The modules include:

  • Exploring Religion
  • Judaism
  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • Religious Pluralism

The five modules of Revealing® Western Religions (corresponding to textbook chapters) cover the religions most often taught in introductory western religions courses–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–along with modules on the academic study of religion and on religious pluralism in the 21st century. The text is designed to convey the maximum amount of information in the most user-friendly manner, and to reinforce learning with interactive exercises and a large bank of review questions. Compared to other introductory western religions textbooks, Revealing® Western Religions is vastly more experiential.

Evocative images of the religions presented are presented at the rate of one for roughly every seventy words of text, a ratio that print textbooks cannot begin to match. In addition, selected audio clips allow students to experience everything from the Islamic call to prayer to evangelical Christian glossolalia. Inclusion of context-appropriate scriptures lessen the need for adjunct texts such as anthologies of primary readings. Finally, an extensive, and easily searchable glossary and bibliography provide additional resources for students, including the proper pronunciation of key terms in the study of the world’s religions. The narration provided is a tremendous asset for students with learning differences and for those whose native language is not English.

Though clear links are drawn between these three related religions, the modules, like chapters in a textbook, can be studied in whatever order the instructor prefers. Future editions of Revealing® Western Religions will incorporate African tribal religions, African diaspora religions (Santeria, Vodou, Candomble), and Native American religions. Text, images, audio clips, and exercises are all updated on a semester-by-semester basis, improving existing material and offering the results of fresh scholarship as soon as it is available.

Revealing® Western Religions is not a slave to digital technologies; rather it uses them to make students’ learning experience richer, more meaningful, and ultimately, better retained. It is a highly flexible product, capable of being used in conjunction with traditional print textbooks, anthologies, and primary texts, as the instructor prefers. Revealing® Western Religions is an easy fit for distance learning courses, but it is first and foremost designed for regular classroom use. By teaching the basics of world religions in an engaging manner that is proven to enhance independent learning, Revealing® Western Religions frees up class time for the kind of learning that classrooms provide best: student interaction, discussion, and the opportunity to address specific student needs and interests. If you are tired of assigning material that students don’t read, or that leaves them struggling to retain basic information, you will be thrilled with Revealing® Western Religions.