19 Oct SYNTOPICAL GREAT IDEA #1: GOD
There is, perhaps, no bigger question that human beings ask than: “Is there a God?” From this singular question stems a whole lifetime of coming to terms with your conclusions. For many of us, this simple question provokes answers that change, transform, deepen with experience and through time. Outside of this personal quest to either experience, take on faith or deny the existence of one, true God, this class also considers the cultural ramifications of faith, particularly monotheistic faith. How does a cultural tradition that, in general, embraces monotheism (even without homogeneous doctrinal practices) reflect the belief in one God? How does monotheistic cultural production attempt to explain a wide variety of subsequent questions about God—for instance, “How does God allow evil in the world?” “What happens when we die?” and “What is the purpose of life on earth?”
In addition to exploring the personal and cultural ramifications of a belief in one God, this course also explores the similarities and differences among the three major, Western monotheisms—Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Thus, we will use cultural production and the sacred texts of each of these faiths to investigate the doctrinal similarities and differences concerning God, miracles, free will, the nature of sin or evil, the resurrection of the body, the Last Judgment and the end of the world, among other, more specific concepts of each of these monotheisms.
For instance, we will consider Hebrew ideas about creation, providence, covenants, laws and the messianic hope. We will also consider Christian dogmas concerning the nature of the Trinity, the incarnation and divinity of Jesus Christ, Christ as Savior and Redeemer, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the mystical body of Christ (the Apostolate), the sacraments and the second coming of Christ and the Last Judgment. We will finally look as the Five Pillars of Islam, the prophets of Islam (with Muhammad being the last of 25), and why Jerusalem is crucial to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.