Sacred Texts of the World

Course No. 6160
Professor Grant Hardy, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina, Asheville
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Course No. 6160
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Course Overview

Throughout history, religious expression has been an essential human activity, deeply influencing the development of cultures and civilizations. Today, even after centuries of scientific empiricism, the world’s major religions are as active as ever, continuing to speak profoundly to their believers’ self-conception and ways of living.

With few exceptions, humanity’s religions are grounded in their sacred texts—foundational writings that crystallize the principles and vision of the faiths, forming the basis of belief and action.

The worldwide library of sacred texts is a vast and extraordinary canon that includes a large number of the most impactful books ever written. Beyond the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and Islam’s Qur’an, jewels of the world’s sacred writings include the Hindu Vedas, the Buddhist Sutras, Daoism’s Daodejing, and the Analects of Confucius, as well as the revered texts of traditions such as Zoroastrianism and Jainism, and modern faiths such as Baha’i. These are texts that people around the world live by and, at times, are willing to die for.

Remarkable in their centrality and enduring appeal, sacred writings offer a uniquely revealing window into global thought, culture, and history. A familiarity with the diverse body of world scriptures offers you

  • a penetrating look at how people from different traditions have viewed the cosmos, the world, and human beings;
  • a grasp of the core values and beliefs of the world’s highly influential faiths;
  • a deep sense of the worldview, cultural themes, perceptions, and concerns driving the societies that produced the texts;
  • direct knowledge and understanding of a towering body of world literature, reflecting richly varied traditions; and
  • the words and insights of some of the wisest human beings in history on the self, the mind, ethics, morality, and meaningful living.

At their core, sacred writings take you to the essence of the world’s faiths as they give meaning and inspiration to countless millions of people around the globe. In doing so, the texts provide a significant bridge to understanding other peoples and ways of life, and an opportunity to look at our own traditions and assumptions with fresh eyes and a greatly enlarged perspective.

Now, in Sacred Texts of the World, Professor Grant Hardy of the University of North Carolina at Asheville takes you deeply into the world canon of sacred writings that have played an integral role in human culture and history. Covering a wide spectrum of texts, the course examines the scriptures of seven major religious traditions, as well as nine lesser-known or smaller faiths, including sacred writings from the ancient Egyptian and Mayan civilizations. These 36 lectures provide rich insights into world cultures and the meaning of religious faith.

A Global Richness of Sacred Traditions

Within each faith studied, the lectures provide an overview of the full range of sacred writings, focusing on the texts that are the most significant and relevant for comprehending the tradition.

In addition to extensive study of the scriptures of the Judeo-Christian and Islamic worlds, you’ll discover religious texts from vastly differing cultures, including these iconic writings:

  • The Hindu Upanishads:Within a broad look at the huge Hindu canon, study the spiritual arguments and dialogues of the Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanishads, core wisdom texts elaborating the underlying unity of brahman (ultimate reality) and atman (the self or soul).
  • The Adi Granth of Sikhism: Unpack this most unusual text, the beloved heart of the Sikh religion; study its precepts expressed in hymns, poetry, and prayers; and learn how devotees treat the book as a living guru.
  • The Buddhist Mahayana Sutras: Among six lectures on seminal Buddhist texts, taste the Mahayana tradition’s Lotus, Diamond, and Heart sutras, and their compelling expressions of emptiness, non-duality, and “no-self.”
  • The Zoroastrian Avesta: Grapple with the challenging theology of this ancient Persian religion, embodied in the Avesta’s hymns, religious codes, and spiritual debates between the priest Zoroaster and the creator god, Ahura Mazda.
  • The Classicsof Confucianism: Delve into the Confucian notions of self-cultivation, right action, and harmony with the cosmos; contemplate texts including the Analects,the Mencius, and the renowned Yijing; and trace their profound influence on Chinese culture.
  • The Mayan Popol Vuh: Uncover this remarkable text of the ancient Mayan culture, comprising creation stories, religious ritual, and sacred mythological narratives.

Scriptural Treasures of the Abrahamic Faiths

Among the major world religions, you’ll devote a full third of the lectures to the emblematic texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Here, the inquiry covers not only these faiths’ most central writings, but other key texts that illuminate the monotheistic traditions.

In Judaism, you’ll study the roots of the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) and the great texts of its constituent parts—the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings—discovering how the ancient Jews, scattered geographically, were bound together by their scriptures. Within Christianity, you’ll trace the complex origins of the New Testament and dig deeply into the Gospels, Acts, and Letters. You’ll also study the formation and contents of Islam’s Qur’an, sampling excerpts of its majestic poetry and diverse suras (chapters).

Building on your knowledge of the core scriptures of these faiths, you’ll investigate these important related texts:

  • The Jewish Mishnah and Talmud: Grasp the role and significance of the Mishnah, an elemental text teaching critical thinking, and of the Talmud, a vast literary commentary on Jewish life.
  • The Christian Apocryphal Gospels: Discover four noncanonical versions of the life of Jesus, containing revealing and often provocative stories and teachings.
  • The Hadith of Islam: Contemplate this revered body of texts narrating the actions and sayings of Muhammad as they speak critically to Muslim life and culture.

Expanding the inquiry beyond the most long-standing faiths, Professor Hardy invites your consideration of the sacred writings of more recent religions. Among these, you’ll encounter the Japanese Tenrikyo and its distinctive scriptures of poems, songs, and revelations. You’ll also study the monumentalBook of Mormon and Mormonism’s other core texts, and read foundational Baha’i writings on the oneness of God and the unity of religions.

An Inquiry of Extraordinary Scope and Dimension

As an integral element of this course, Professor Hardy offers thought-provoking perspectives on the meanings of the texts and their cultural roles, and how studying them can bring sharp focus to our own assumptions. In comparing writings of different religious cultures, you learn these distinctions:

  • While Western monotheists have placed great emphasis on printing and translating their scriptures, traditions such as Hinduism and Zoroastrianism have held that holy words must be spoken aloud to be actualized, viewing writing and translation as diminishing what is most sacred.
  • The Western distinction between “religion” and “philosophy” doesn’t apply in some major traditions. Daoism, for example, addresses both political problems—matters of government and leadership—and a path to inward spirituality and transcendence.

In taking you to the heart of the texts, Professor Hardy suggests persuasively that many of the values of China and Japan don’t make sense until you’ve thought carefully about the Confucian Analects and the Daodejing, just as reading the Qur’an critically illuminates what is going on in the Middle East and much of Africa.

Throughout, Professor Hardy illustrates the lectures with striking images depicting religious history and the texts themselves, bringing the story of the writings alive in visual terms. His teaching reflects a remarkably wide-ranging knowledge of the texts and the societies that produced them, and he enriches the inquiry with fascinating and often surprising details of religious culture:

  • The Qur’an is not a book but the spoken words of the text; there is a different word (Mus’haf) for the Qur’an as a physical object.
  • For most of its history, India’s social stability came from the principles advocated in the Hindu Laws of Manu, rather than from external law codes.
  • Christian fundamentalism is a relatively new phenomenon; in past centuries, Christians read their scriptures from multiple perspectives.
  • The earliest collection of women’s literature, from the 5th century B.C.E., is the Buddhist Therigatha.
  • Until 623 C.E., Muslims prayed facing Jerusalem.

In Sacred Texts of the World, you’ll delve deeply into the sacred writings that have shaped the identities, mental worlds, and actions of large segments of humanity—texts that remain a formidable influence in today’s world. These richly informative lectures reveal a global legacy of faith, thought, and spirituality.

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36 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Reading Other People’s Scriptures
    Throughout history, the world’s sacred texts have held profound significance for the cultures that produced them. Consider five key reasons for the importance of studying them, from their accessibility and centrality to their cultures of origin to the wisdom they contain and the enlarged perspective they offer on our own traditions. x
  • 2
    Hinduism and the Vedas
    Grasp the nature and roles of sacred writings within Hinduism, as contrasted with the Judeo-Christian tradition. Learn about the structure of the Vedas, comprising collections of hymns and commentaries, and their meaning and function in Hindu ritual. Read compelling excerpts from the Vedas, and learn how Western religious scholars have approached them. x
  • 3
    What Is Heard—Upanishads
    The Upanishads constitute the philosophical or wisdom texts of the Hindu Vedas. Study the composition of the Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanishads, containing spiritual arguments and dialogues revealing the underlying unity of brahman (ultimate reality) and atman (the self or soul). Trace the Upanishads’ influence on Westerners. x
  • 4
    What Is Remembered—Epics
    A second body of Hindu sacred writings encompasses literature, texts that explore the nature of dharma, the eternal laws and principles that give meaning and shape to life. Here, discover two great Indian epics: the Ramayana, a mythic narrative of kingship; and the Mahabharata, a complex story of familial bonds and discord. x
  • 5
    Laws of Manu and Bhagavad Gita
    Learn about the huge canon of Hindu sutras, shastras, Puranas, and Tantra. Delve into two highly influential texts: the Laws of Manu, outlining rules, customs and guidelines for living for the four Indian castes; and the beloved Bhagavad Gita, which speaks to matters of spiritual insight, social obligation, and worldly success. x
  • 6
    Related Traditions—Sikh Scriptures
    Trace the evolution of the Sikh religion, and the lineage of gurus that produced the faith’s sacred text, the Adi Granth. Study the composition of the Adi Granth; sample its beautiful hymns, poems, and prayers; and learn how the book is treated by Sikhs as a living guru. x
  • 7
    Judaism—People of the Book
    In approaching the sacred texts of Judaism, learn the dramatic history of the Aleppo Codex, a historically significant copy of the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible). Track the origins of the Tanakh and its constituent sections—the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings—and grasp how the Tanakh became the focus of Jewish identity. x
  • 8
    Five Books of Torah
    Study the contents of the Torah—the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Then consider two kinds of responses to the text—the religious perspective that regards it as a repository of eternal truths, and the historical-critical perspective that approaches the text with the tools of the scholar. x
  • 9
    Prophets and Writings
    Through the Prophets, chart the unfolding of the political and religious history of ancient Israel. Then explore the rich spectrum of the Writings, containing stories, proverbs, poetry, psalms, and theological explorations. Contemplate the core themes of these texts, from ethical monotheism and the destiny of Israel to the nature of God and humanity. x
  • 10
    Apocrypha and Dead Sea Scrolls
    Taste the stories and historical narratives of the Apocrypha (included in Catholic but not Jewish or Protestant Bibles), noting their thematic emphasis on the spiritual and political challenges faced by the Jews. Learn what the Dead Sea Scrolls tell us about the community that produced them and the evolution of the Hebrew Bible. x
  • 11
    Oral Torah—Mishnah and Talmud
    Within Judaism, two central texts form the basis for devotion to God through study. Grasp the nature of the Mishnah, a body of legal judgments and maxims teaching students how to think critically. Then encounter the Talmud, a vast analysis and commentary on the Mishnah and Jewish life—a marvel of world literature. x
  • 12
    Related Traditions—Zoroastrian Scriptures
    Zoroastrianism envisions the universe as ruled by good and evil beings of equal status. Study its principal sacred text, the Avesta, comprising books of hymns, myths, and religious regulations promoting holiness. Sample the Gathas, dialogues between the priest Zoroaster and the creator god, Ahura Mazda, and trace Zoroastrianism’s influence on the monotheistic faiths. x
  • 13
    The Three Baskets of Buddhism
    This lecture introduces the huge library of Buddhist scriptures. Study the origins and contents of the three major Buddhist canons—the Pali canon, the Chinese canon, and the Tibetan canon. Learn about the devoted efforts through Buddhist history to preserve these texts, and the nature of their significance to Buddhists. x
  • 14
    Vinaya and Jataka
    Here, investigate two prominent types of Buddhist scriptures and how they are used. Delve into the Vinaya, regulations and stories comprising rules for living for monks and nuns. Then sample excerpts from the Jataka, the large body of stories concerning the Buddha’s past lives, used for teaching Buddhist morality. x
  • 15
    Theravada Sutras
    Among textual riches of the Theravada tradition of Buddhism is the Buddha’s teaching on the origins of suffering. Contemplate the Therigatha, poems of women’s enlightenment; the Dhammapada, verses of advice and inspiration; and the Discourse to the Kalamas, where the Buddha outlines a spiritual path of direct experience and observation. x
  • 16
    Mahayana Sutras
    The Mahayana Sutras are those of the East Asian tradition. Study the Mahayana conceptions of the perfection of wisdom and the nature of emptiness, non-duality, and no-self. Observe how these notions were expressed through the renowned Lotus Sutra, Diamond Sutra, and Heart Sutra, and how the texts were venerated as sacred objects. x
  • 17
    Pure Land Buddhism and Zen
    Two distinctive forms of Buddhism took root in Japan. Learn first about the Pure Land School, which directs spiritual efforts toward entering a celestial realm where seekers can learn the dharma. Through Zen scriptures and koans (paradoxical sayings used in teaching), contemplate the tradition’s direct, experiential approach to enlightenment. x
  • 18
    Tibetan Vajrayana
    In studying the remarkable and elaborate Tibetan canon, grasp how Vajrayana Buddhism combines the Mahayana philosophy of the perfection of wisdom with Tantra, secret rituals and practices that offer shortcuts to enlightenment. Also encounter the Tibetan Book of the Dead—in reality, a treatise on rebirth. x
  • 19
    Related Traditions—Jain Scriptures
    Jainism, a sister religion to Buddhism, maintains an unusual relationship to scripture. Explore the principles and ascetic customs of the faith’s two groups, the Shvetambara and Digambara, which reject each other’s scriptures as forgeries. Study excerpts from each group’s sacred texts, revered yet never held as the heart of the faith. x
  • 20
    Five Confucian Classics
    Here, confront the intriguing question of whether Confucianism is a religion or a philosophy. Learn about the Confucian canon and how it became the foundation of Chinese state ideology. Sample texts encompassing poetry, history, ritual, rules for living, and explorations of morality, and consider why we refer to them as “classics” rather than “scripture.” x
  • 21
    Four Books of Neo-Confucianism
    In a second look at Confucianism, investigate the renowned Yijing and how its system of divination has actual practical applications. Then delve into Neo-Confucianism, its principles of self-cultivation and harmony with humanity and the cosmos, and its embodiment in the texts of the Analects, the Mencius, the Great Learning, and the Constant Mean. x
  • 22
    Daoism and the Daodejing
    The foundational text of Daoism, the Daodejing, speaks of the Way (Dao), a transcendent order underlying all phenomena. In excerpts from the text, contemplate the Daodejing’s compelling expression of harmonious duality and its conception of effortless, spontaneous human action. Also sample the Zhuangzi, a related masterpiece of literature and philosophy. x
  • 23
    The Three Caverns of Daoist Scriptures
    The full canon of Daoism comprises roughly 1500 texts. Study seminal scriptures such as the Neiye, the Huainanzi, the Scripture on Great Peace, and the Declarations of the Perfected. Grasp how the Daozang, or complete canon, is organized into three “Caverns” or divisions, reflecting the major schools of Daoism. x
  • 24
    Related Traditions—Shinto and Tenrikyo
    Explore the customs and rituals of the Japanese Shinto religion, aimed at harmonizing the human and natural worlds. Study excerpts from its revered texts, comprising histories of Japan and ritual prayers, and learn about its integral role in Japanese life. Also encounter the Tenrikyo faith and its three distinctive books of scripture. x
  • 25
    Christian Testaments Old and New
    In approaching Christian scripture, trace the complex origins of the New Testament, beginning with the letters of Paul and the Gospels. Follow the proliferation of later Christian texts and how they were categorized, and study the composition of the first complete Christian Bibles in comparison with more recent versions and translations. x
  • 26
    Gospels and Acts
    The New Testament Gospels present four distinct accounts of the life of Jesus of equal authority. Compare the discrepancies between the four Gospels, taking note of key hypotheses regarding the sources and theological motivations underlying them. Continue with the Acts of the Apostles as it outlines Christian practices that serve to define the faith. x
  • 27
    Letters and Apocalypse
    Letters, as exemplified in the New Testament writings, were an important means of instruction in the early church. Study seven key letters written by Paul, speaking to theological understanding, challenges faced by early Christians, and essential doctrine. Conclude with Revelation and its dramatic vision of the coming kingdom of God. x
  • 28
    Apocryphal Gospels
    Alongside the four canonical Gospels, competing accounts of Jesus’s life emerged, which we now call “apocryphal.” Here, discover the Gospel of Peter, which directly portrays the Resurrection, and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, which recounts events of Jesus’s childhood. Finally, encounter Gnostic Christianity in the Gospel of Thomas, containing mystical sayings of Jesus. x
  • 29
    Related Traditions—Mormon Scriptures
    The Mormon religion offers its own unique scriptures, used in conjunction with the Christian Bible. Learn about the Book of Mormon, an epic religious-historical narrative, as well as its other sacred texts, including Mormonism’s oral temple ceremony, and grasp how they are used as expressions of the faith. x
  • 30
    Islam and Scriptural Recitation
    The remarkable oral tradition in Islam mandates that the Qur’an be recited and regards memorization as an act of devotion. Delve into the Qur’an’s origins in the life of Muhammad, the conception of its text as direct revelation, and its recitation as a sophisticated and esteemed art form. x
  • 31
    Holy Qur’an
    Study the Qur’an’s structure and contents, noting how the message of faith—revolutionary for its time—is spread throughout the suras (chapters). Read the beautiful poetry, explore the Qur’an’s major themes, and consider how its stories compare to the same stories as told in the Old Testament of the Bible. x
  • 32
    Hadith and Sufism
    The Islamic Hadith recounts the actions and sayings of Muhammad. Study the sources and composition of this revered body of texts, and observe how they provide guidance on essential matters of Muslim life. Also encounter the superlative poetry of Sufism, Islam’s mystical tradition, which employs refined spiritual practices to reach direct union with God. x
  • 33
    Related Traditions—Baha’i Scriptures
    Trace the 19th-century emergence of Baha’i, a distinctive faith with origins in Iran. Learn about the tenets of the religion and the huge canon of scriptures written by the faith’s founders. Read from foundational Baha’i texts as they speak to the oneness of God, the oneness of humanity, and the unity of religions. x
  • 34
    Abandoned Scriptures—Egyptian and Mayan
    This lecture explores the value of studying sacred texts from traditions that have not survived. Read striking excerpts from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, a compendium of spells guiding the deceased in the afterlife. Then discover the Popol Vuh, a text containing sacred mythological stories of the Maya. x
  • 35
    Secular Scripture—U.S. Constitution
    Here, uncover thought-provoking parallels between religious texts and certain secular ones. With reference to the key ways in which scriptures are received and employed within religious faiths, delineate how the founding documents of the United States have come to function as many sacred texts do in other cultures. x
  • 36
    Heavenly Books, Earthly Connections
    Conclude with Professor Hardy’s recommendations, from each of the major religious traditions, of specific texts with which to begin your own reading of sacred writings. Finally, contemplate the question of what difference the comparative study of sacred texts might make in our lives when we read them with empathy and understanding. x

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Your professor

Grant Hardy

About Your Professor

Grant Hardy, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina, Asheville
Dr. Grant Hardy is Professor of History and Religious Studies and Director of the Humanities Program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He earned his B.A. in Ancient Greek from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. in Chinese Language and Literature from Yale University. Professor Hardy has received a wealth of awards and accolades for both his teaching and his scholarship. At the University of North...
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Sacred Texts of the World is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 64.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Introduction to the Subject This is an excellent introduction to sacred texts from the world's big-name religions. I particularly appreciate how the professor managed to include the biggest and most influential, but also religions like Sikhism, Jainism, and Baha'i which are less prominent but still have respectable followings. I would recommend this course for anyone with an interest in the subject.
Date published: 2020-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative I really enjoy this DVD. I was taking a Philosophy class and used this DVD to delve more into the topic. Somethings are better left "said" then read. Reading the philosophical language was...different, so having Professor Hardy teach in today's language was quite helpful
Date published: 2020-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sacred Texts This was really wonderful! So much information as I am studying to be a Chaplain and this really widen my world of just touching on texts of other key religions. Best overview very insightful Professor. Awesome would highly recommend to those wanting to stretch themselves in learning outside Christian texts.
Date published: 2020-07-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Achieves What It Sets Out To Do Achieves What It Sets Out To Do Sacred texts of the following religions are explored: o Hinduism o Sikh o Judaism o Zoroastrian o Buddhism o Jainism o Confucianism o Daoism o Shinto o Christianity o Islam There are even a few lectures on Mayan, ancient Egyptian, and US secular documents. Professor Hardy does an admirable job of explaining how people interact with the texts, how they are regarded, and practices or traditions revolving around human devotions to the texts (i.e. when they are read, how they are handled, techniques for studying/reading) as well as the history of the oldest copies we have for some of the texts (when they were discovered and where). The lectures on Buddhism (13-18) were well done: one of the better attempts at a professor to get to the heart of the religion and clearly explain the differences between Theravada, Mahayana, and Zen (with the exception of Tibetan Vajrayana which I’m still trying to grasp). Other top lectures of mine: 19 (Jainism), Christianity (25-27), and secular scripture (35) While it is impossible for the professor (or any) to capture the full extent of the beauty of the texts or even to provide summaries that do them justice, there was some inconsistency from lecture to lecture on getting to the heart of the texts. He was great with Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, and Islam but I felt something was lacking with Hinduism, Judaism, and the lectures on East Asia. A note on presentation style: Professor Hardy is very friendly and very engaged in the lectures. One idiosyncrasy is that he often interrupts his sentences to select a different word or phrase or to correct something. This start/stop/start approach becomes distracting and disconcerting at times, slowing the flow of the course. While I appreciate the change in the opening music for each lecture from the standard The Great Courses music, the audience applause following it was out of place in this setting: the music was soothing, calming, and tailed off quietly and then suddenly there is this loud explosive applause ruining that moment: who signed off on this?? If you are interested in the histories of these sacred texts and how they are regarded by their devotees, you will struggle to find a better course than this one. In that regard it certainly achieves what it set out to do. If you're interested more in the heart of these religions and their practices I would suggest the following courses from TGC: Cultural Literacy for Religion: Everything the Well-Educated Person Should Know The History of Christian Theology Beginnings of Judaism Great World Religions: Hinduism And BTW I highly recommend another course by Professor Hardy: "Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition". If you're on the fence about purchasing this course (like I was for years) I would just say that I'm glad I finally did!
Date published: 2020-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sacred Texts of the World This course was a great teaching tool for religions of the world. This man loves his work and it shows! I learned so much and appreciate the way he presented each of the subjects he covered. He took great care to present each religion with the dignity and respect they deserved.
Date published: 2019-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Appealing format I have added this DVD, with an number of others, to our parish library for our adult Christian education program. We have not used this one yet but have used these courses for years. They are very popular among our parishioners who range in educational level from high school graduates through multilevel professionals to PhD college professors.
Date published: 2019-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Overview I bought this a while ago and finally got around to watching it in the past couple of weeks. I have found the coverage of the different sacred texts to be enlightening and very interesting. It is refreshing to have an expert's insights on the various texts and religions.
Date published: 2019-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Scholarly and yet empathetic Ok I just finally finished this course! This was very well done, the treatment is scholarly, and comparative now and again, but at the same time empathetic with and respectful of religiosity as a phenomenon of human life. He mostly describes each text on its own terms and does a good job of explaining the role that the text has within each faith - that is not the same in all cases and often, within each faith, some writings are more divine or authoritative than others. He doesn't get bogged down in a lot of heavy comparison but he does some of that and its pretty interesting. Though he goes thru the texts in chronological order basically, this isn't a history of religion. You could drag religion pretty hard for holy wars and atrocities in a history course but he doesn't get into that much at all, and given that the scope is sacred texts not history, that seems fair enough. The inclusion of the US Constitution as an form of "secular scripture" was a cool idea and pretty convincing - the way the originals are treated as precious relics in hermetically sealed cases, the vast body of interpretation by elite judges and so on. It made me think about a couple of other things that were "left out": one being the religion or faith of pastoral nomads or other non-civilized life ways - these are almost necessarily out of the scope of a sacred texts course because you usually need cities and scribes to even develop writing at all, but I wondered what scholars might think they know about this. ;-) I also wondered what he might have said if he had tried to go one step further with the "secular scripture" idea and include the scientific worldview too. His cutoff for including a faith was 2 million believers world wide, and atheism or secular humanism surely qualifies on those grounds? Science pretty clearly has a canon but it is a vast and open canon, and I think it could be said to have some articles of faith in its methods, that have held from Francis Bacon all the way through to say Neil Degrasse Tyson in our own time. The professor's voice/diction is quite clear and the speed was about right for me - a little fast at times but in a recorded course it is better to be a little on the fast side because you can replay. The final episode when he zooms back out for an overview was really strong, he wraps it up well, imploring the listener to go read some texts for themselves, and gives specific suggestions for excerpts to start with. The last thing he mentions though, is the Dalai Lama's book "Toward a True Kinship of Faiths", and I am going to start with that one.
Date published: 2019-03-09
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