Online Religious courses offered by Harvard University.

Budhism

What you’ll learn

  • Religious/philosophical insights conveyed in Buddhist texts
  • How scriptures are interpreted to diverse ends in different historical contexts
  • Sensitive appreciation of world religions

Course description

Whether you are new to the study of Buddhism or have been studying it or practicing it for years, this course will provide you with the opportunity to become acquainted with a variety of Buddhist teachings while guiding you to think about them, and yourself, in new ways.

Through a combination of carefully selected readings, both scriptural and informational, as well as exposure to various forms of Buddhist practice such as art, devotional acts, and literary works, you will learn how to interpret, reflect upon, and apply the teachings of the Buddha to your own life and deepen your understanding of Buddhism.

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Hindusm

What you’ll learn

  • Religious and philosophical insights conveyed in Hindu texts
  • How scriptures are interpreted to diverse ends in different historical contexts
  • Sensitive appreciation of world religions

Course description

Ever wondered about the sacred scriptures that have sustained for millennia one of the oldest and most diverse religions of the world – Hinduism? Want to discover the lessons this history may offer mankind in the 21st century?

This religion course introduces the rich and diverse textual sources from which millions of Hindus have drawn religious inspiration for millennia. The Bhagavad Gita has offered philosophical insights to a number of modern thinkers. This course will introduce important passages from important Hindu sacred texts, their interpretations by moderns and will give you an opportunity to engage with them.

This course is part of the World Religions Through Their Scriptures series.

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Islam

What you’ll learn

  • An introduction to the place of the Quran in Muslim cultures
  • Major themes of the Quran
  • The historical and cultural contexts of the Quran
  • Interpretive skills that enable a more nuanced reading of the Quran
  • Diverse approaches Muslims have adopted to engaging with Quranic texts, including issues in contemporary interpretation

Course description

How can you improve your understanding of Islam and its most important holy text, the Quran? How can you make sense of a tradition and a text that have been interpreted in different ways across vast geographical spaces for nearly a millennium and a half?

Using a multimedia and student-centered approach, this religion course provides tools and perspectives for understanding the role of the Quran in the Islamic tradition. Learners will develop the skills and context to read the text themselves, while also being introduced to some of the issues classical and contemporary interpreters have addressed. This approach enables learners to explore the influence of the Quran on diverse Muslim understandings of Islam.

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Judaism

What you’ll learn

  • The diversity of Jews and Judaism
  • Key facts about the primary texts of the Jewish canon
  • The role that scripture has played and continues to play in the lives of Jews
  • Why the sacred texts of Judaism continue to matter in the 21st century

Course description

For over two millennia, Jews throughout the entire world have been committed to reading, interpreting, and living their scriptures. But what are the Jewish scriptures? When were they written? And why are they relevant in the 21st century?

This religion course introduces students to the diversity of the ever-expanding Jewish canon and the equally diverse ways of reading it. It will examine how Jews, ancient and modern, drew inspiration and guidance from the traditional texts while simultaneously reinterpreting their contents in light of new circumstances. The religion we call “Judaism” emerges at the nexus of text, interpretation, and lived tradition.

Whether you are a long-time student of the Jewish scriptures or a complete newcomer, this course will give you a new understanding of the fascinating roles that sacred texts have played in the rich history of Judaism.

This course is part of the World Religions Through Their Scriptures series.

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Sikhism

What you’ll learn

  • Exploration of a foundational Sikh text, the Japji, which was composed by Guru Nanak and is recited by Sikhs as part of their morning prayers
  • The place of Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scripture, in Sikh life
  • Interpretative skills to engage in a nuanced reading of Guru Granth Sahib
  • Gurmat Sangit, the Sikh musical tradition, as represented in the Sikh scripture and its cultural context
  • The aesthetics of Sikhi, including literature, art, and music
  • The political dimensions of Sikh scripture and its impact on the evolution of Sikhs as a Panth or community

Course description

Sikhi, commonly known as Sikhism, is a monotheistic religious tradition that was founded by Guru Nanak in late fifteenth-century Panjab in South Asia. Today, Sikhi’s approximately twenty-five to thirty million adherents can be found all over the globe, making it one of the six major religions of the world. Sikhi encompasses several religious, social, economic and political institutions, most of which were established and nurtured by Guru Nanak and his nine successors, known as Sikh Gurus.

For over five hundred years, Sikhs in the Panjab and all over the world have engaged with their scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, through the devotional practices of exegesis, singing, recitation, memorization, and calligraphy.

This course examines the Sikh scripture from a doctrinal and historical perspective by providing an overview of Sikh teachings as well as the historical context within which the scripture evolved and became canonized. It also examines the musical and aesthetic dimensions of the Sikh scripture, as well as ways in which the voluminous text has provided Sikhs with a social, ethical, spiritual and political message to help them respond to and shape the world around them.

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