Course Syllabus

Philosophy 1105
World Religions

Fall, 2001

Professor Tzvee Zahavy

Through lectures, reading and discussion this course introduces the student to the great religions of the world with attention to how they have taken shape in America. The course explores the emergence and meanings of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, the theistic Western religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and some less common religions. Subjects to be covered will include: religious ideas and institutions; myths, rituals, cosmologies, systems of meaning and salvation.


  • World Religions in America edited by Jacob Neusner
  • The World's Wisdom by Philip Novak
    Reserve Reading (Out-of-print):
  • World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored and Explained by John Bowker

    Recommended Related Material:
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
  • Video Tape: Tibet: The Living Tradition (Recommended: A visit to the Tibetan Altar at the Newark Museum)
  • Other readings and tapes will be put on reserve in the library and on the Internet.
  • Office hours: After class and by appointment.
    It is a regular assignment for you to consult the Group Web Site. For Discussion and Interaction with Chat. Also please sign up for the Listserver, add your phone number to the database, take the polls, check for information on the calendar and in the shared files and links.

    Requirements: Midterm exam; final exam; completion of all assigned readings; attendance at classes; participation in discussions; visit to a place of worship or museum exhibit of a religion that is not your own.

    In each unit the student will read the chapters of texts in Novak and Neusner. Several units may take more than one week to cover.
    1. Introduction: What is Religion; Ancient Religions
    2. Hinduism
    3. Jainism
    4. Buddhism
    5. Sikhism
    6. Confucianism; Chinese Religions; Taoism
    7. Japanese Religions; Shinto
    8. Judaism
    9. Christianity
    10. Islam
    11. Native Religions; New Age Spirituality

    Additional Topics to be covered as time permits:
      • Definitions of religion

      • The idea of the holy

      • Religious language and symbols

      • Myth and Ritual

      • Theology and the problem of evil