Florida International University
Department of Religious Studies

REL2011 - Religion: Analysis and Interpretation
Katherine "Kass" Evans, M.A., M.A., M.Ln.
Spring 1999: Mon. & Wed. 5:00 - 6:15 p.m., DM 164
Office hours: after class and by appointment
RELIGIOUS STUDIES DEPT: 348-2186 OFFICE: 971-9680 EMAIL: evansk@fiu.edu
COURSE WEB SITE: http://www.fiu.edu/~evansk/REL2011/

This course will examine religion as a human phenomenon by focusing on the aspect of cosmology, or the human view of how the world is constructed (gods, heavens, underworlds, etc.). It will consider and compare the cosmology of three religions: 1) ancient Egyptian polytheism with an elaborate cosmos where natural elements and gods were often personified; 2) first century Christianity where a new religion struggled to develop a new cosmology in a pre-orthodoxy phase; 3) Buddhism as it is practiced on Sri Lanka where the traditional Buddhist philosophy of karma is coupled with the worship of a pantheon of gods. For each religion a sociological analysis will be done to demonstrate how a particular culture's cosmology is a reflection of the societal structure.

Byron E. Shafer, Ed. Religion in Ancient Egypt: Gods, Myths, and Personal Practice (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991) - $14.95

Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocrypha/Deutercanonical Books. New Revised Standard Version (NY: Oxford University Press, 1989) - cloth $19.95

Three large bluebooks.

Readings on Reserve: Gombrich, Richard F. Buddhist Precept and Practice: Traditional Buddhism in the Rural Highlands of Ceylon rev. ed. (South Asia Books, 1991) and Gombrich, Richard and Gananath Obeyesekere Buddhism Transformed (Princeton University Press, 1988)

Course modules, maps, and readings on REL2011 Web Site.

Writing requirement: This course fulfills Rule 6A-10.30 (the Gordon Rule) which requires 6,000 words of written work (about 25-30 pages). The grades for written work will be based upon both content and the use of correct English grammar, spelling, and style.

Course Requirements/Grades:


Weekly Assignments

REL2011 - Religion: Analysis and Interpretation
Spring 19998: Mon. & Wed. 5:00 - 6:15 p.m., DM 164

Jan. 6 Introduction - what is cosmology and why studyit?
Jan. 11Background for studying Egyptian religion - read Shafer,pp. 7-30
Jan. 13 Egyptian cosmogonies and structure of the cosmos - read Shafer pp. 88-122
Jan. 18Martin Luther King Day - no class
Jan. 20 Egyptian deities, their function in the universe - read Shafer,pp. 30-58
*List of research paper topics and instructions distributed
Jan. 25 Egyptian deities continued (slides)
Jan. 27 Pharaoh as semi-divine being - read Shafer, pp. 58-87
Feb. 1 Egyptian afterlife beliefs (slides); Complete "Course Module: Cosmological Reflections in Egyptian Funerary Architecture" at http://www.fiu.edu/~evansk/REL2011/
*Last day to sign up for research paper topic
Feb. 3 Human role in the cosmos - read Shafer, pp.123-161
Feb. 8 Sociological analysis; how does cosmology reflect andaffirm the social order?
Feb. 10 Essay exam in Egyptian cosmology
Feb. 15 Background for studying First Century Christianity - Complete "Course Module: Life of Jesus" at http://www.fiu.edu/~evansk/REL2011/
Feb. 17Cosmogonies and structure of the cosmos. Read Genesis chapts.1-2; John 1:1-18
Feb. 22 God and supernatural beings. Read angels (Matthew 1:20,16:27, 28:1-4), demons (Mark 1:23-27, 1:32), and Satan (Matthew 4:1-11, John 12:31-32, Ephesians 6:10-13)
Mar. 1 Place of Jesus in Early Christian cosmology - read Messianic Secret (Mark 4:10-12; 8:27-30, 9:2-10), Jesus titles (Mark 8:27-29, Mark1:11, Ezekiel 2:1-6, Daniel 7:13-14)
Mar. 3Afterlife beliefs - read I Thessalonians and specific verses to be given in class
Mar. 8 Human role in cosmology. Read Mark 16:15-16, Matthew 25:36; I Cor 5:9-10, Acts 3:19-20, Mark 13:9-13, 2Co3-5
Mar. 10Sociological analysis; how did cosmology reflect the social order?
Mar. 15Essay exam on First century Christian cosmology
Mar. 17 Background to Sri Lankan Buddhist cosmology
Mar. 22 & 24Spring break - no class
Mar. 29 Structure of the cosmos and cosmogony - read Buddhism Transformed, p. 15-41
Mar. 31Buddhist pantheon of gods - readings TBA
Apr. 5 Other Buddhist supernatural beings (demons and ghosts); Optional class South Asian Dinner
Apr. 7 The role of the Buddha in the cosmos (slides) - read "The Buddha as Worshipped: Man or God?" in Buddhist Precept and Practice, p. 121-168
Apr. 12 Death, karma and the human role in cosmology - readings TBA
Apr. 14 Essay exam on Sri Lankan Buddhist cosmology

REL2011 TopPage