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SCTR 19 - "Religions of the Book" - Winter 2007

Fr. Felix Just, S.J.
Dept. of Religious Studies, Santa Clara University

Daily Worksheets

For Worksheets related to the Group Project/Presentations
from March 7-16, see the separate pages for
Section 1  or  Section 2.

Worksheet #1 – Preliminary Thoughts about “Religion”
(due at the start of class on Wednesday, 1/10/07)

1) After reading “What Is Religion?” (by G. Kessler & R. Edwards; on ERes), esp. the “Family Traits” of religions, consider in what ways certain sports may function like a “religion” for some people today.

a) Pick one sport to use as your primary comparison.  Name of sport:

b) In what ways might this sport be considered a “religion”?  How is it similar to what is usually called a “religion”?  Consider both players & spectators & people involved in other ways; give several specific examples:

c) On the other hand, in what ways is this sport NOT like a “religion”?  How is it significantly different from what is usually called a “religion”?  What “family traits” of religion does it not possess?  Again, be specific in your response:

2) What does Deuteronomy 6:1-25 tell you about the core or essence of Judaism?

3) What does Mark 1:1-45 tell you about the core or essence of Christianity?

4) What does Surah 96:1-19 of the Qur’an tell you about the core or essence of Islam?

Worksheet #2 –Israelite Religious Beginnings: Abraham (for Friday, 1/12/07)

1) Based on the readings from the Book of Genesis, summarize the relationship between God and Abram/Abraham: [See my Covenants webpage]

a) What does God ask Abram/Abraham to do? (list the two most important things mentioned in the texts, and briefly cite the specific biblical references in parentheses at the end of your comments):

b) What does God promise him in return? (again, list the two most important things you find and cite biblical references):

2) What questions do these readings from Genesis raise for you?   (Note: “None” is not an acceptable response.
Turn your brain on, think carefully, reflect more deeply, and raise one or two questions – for information or for discussion)

3) Based on your reading of James Bowley, “A Library of Tradition: The Beginnings of the Bible” (on ERes):

a) What is the difference between “Scripture” and “Bible”? - [See my Biblical Glossary webpage]

b) Describe five or more ways in which the books of the Hebrew Bible (and most other ancient books) are different from most modern books: (See esp. pp. 14-18 for more detailed explanations and examples)

  1. Anonymous authorship: Most biblical books were written anonymously; authors give no "preface" or details about themselves..
  2. Copying without attribution: It was common practice to copy the words of others without explicit attribution of the older sources.
  3. Composite authorship: Most biblical books were not written by just one author, but edited and expanded by later editors or redactors.
  4. Diachronic composition: Since books were written over time, they may contain anachronisms and reflect differing perspectives.
  5. Pseudepigraphic authorship: Attributing one's writing to a famous figure of the past was not uncommon nor considered deceptive.
    also possible:
  6. Written on separate scrolls: Not bound between two covers like modern "books"; limited amount could fit on one scroll.
  7. Oral priority: Stories were passed down orally for generations/centuries, before eventually being written down.
  8. ? Divine inspiration? - Not the best answer; doesn't apply to "most ancient books"; only much later were they considered "sacred."

Worksheet #3 – Translations; Pentateuch; Geography (for Wednesday, 1/17/07)

1a)Why are there so many different translations of the Bible, both historically & today? Briefly list several reasons:

1b)What challenges do the debates about “inclusive language” pose for the translation of the Bible into English?

2) Based on your reading of CSB-RG, 85-99, as well as several other readings from the first week of our course:

Question: Traditional Jewish Answer: Modern Scholarly Theories:
What is the Pentateuch
or Torah?
God's revelation in the "Five Books of Moses"

A compilation of foundational stories of the ancient Israelites,
combining both narrative teachings and legal instructions.

When and by whom
was it initially written?
Moses, during his lifetime (ca. 1300 BCE)

Many parts during the monarchial period (1000-587 BCE),
in various places, by various authors, for various purposes.

When and how was it
later edited or revised?
It wasn't. The prophet Moses wrote all of it.

Portions maybe compiled under King Josiah (see 2 Kings 22);
Final version during the Babylonian Exile (580's-530's BCE)

Note: The answers above apply directly to the Torah (first five books), but similar comments apply to the rest of the Hebrew Bible (the Prophets & Writings). Orthodox/traditionalist/fundamentalist Jews and Christians believe that the named authors (e.g. Isaiah, Daniel, Jonah, etc.) were the actual authors, so the writings must stem from the respective lifetimes of these biblical figures. Most Jews, Christians and others, however, accept the insights of modern which suggests that many biblical writings are composite (expanded over time by various authors & editors) and/or pseudepigraphic (attributed to well-known biblical figures, but written later).

3) Outline Map of Middle East:
Give the current name of each country marked ##1-18 on the map, or the collective name for the groups of countries marked #19 and #20:

Outline Map of the Middle East Middle East Map

  1. Egypt
  2. Israel (not spelled "Isreal")
  3. Palestinian Territories
    (Gaza Strip & West Bank)
  4. Jordan
  5. Lebanon
  6. Syria
  7. Turkey
  1. a) Georgia (former USSR)
    b) Russia
  2. Armenia
  3. Azerbeijan
  4. Iran
  5. Iraq
  6. Kuwait
  7. Saudi Arabia
  1. India
  2. Pakistan
  3. Afghanistan
  4. China
  5. Central Asian Republics
    (Former USSR:
    Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan,
    Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, etc.)
  6. Gulf States
    (Yemen, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain)

Worksheet #4 – Israelite Monarchy & Prophets (for Friday, 1/19/07)

1) Summarize the CONTENT and the main MESSAGE of each of the following books of the Hebrew Bible:

  • Joshua:
    • Content:
    • Message:
  • Judges:
    • Content:
    • Message:
  • 1 & 2 Samuel:
    • Content:
    • Message:
  • 1 & 2 Kings:
    • Content:
    • Message:

(On back: Site Visit Proposals)

Worksheet #5 – Judaism(s) in the Hellenistic Era (for Wednesday, 1/24/07)

1) Based on the readings from the Books of Maccabees, what was going on in Judaism in the early 2nd century BCE?

a) How and why did some Jews assimilate into the larger Hellenistic/Greek culture, as mandated by the Seleucid rulers?

b) How and why did other Jews strongly resist any attempts at assimilation and fight against the Seleucid Greeks?

2) Based on the selections from the Book of Daniel, how did the author understand his own historical situation (in the early 2nd century BCE)?  When and how did he expect God to intervene?

3) What is the main thesis of Ch. 1 (“Who are the Jews?”) of N. Solomon’s Judaism: A Very Short Introduction?

4) What is Solomon’s main thesis in Ch. 2 (“How Did Judaism & Christianity Split Up?”) of Judaism: VSI?

Worksheet #6 – Judaism(s) in the Hellenistic Era (for Friday, 1/26/07)

1) Carefully analyze the two versions of the Decalogue in the HB (Exod 20 and Deut 5).
List and explain several small but significant differences between these two texts:

2) What do you think is the overall point or purpose of all the detailed regulations in Lev 19 and Deut 14
What is their rationale according to the Bible?  Why do some Jews still follow such rules today, while other Jews do not?

3) Skipping ahead to Ch. 6 (“Making a Jewish Home”) and Ch. 9 (“Eternal Law; Changing Times”) of Solomon’s Judaism: A Very Short Introduction:

a) What do you find most interesting or intriguing or curious about Jewish ritual, dietary, and sexual practices?

b) List one or two questions that these chapters raise for you.  What would you like to ask a visiting Rabbi?

Worksheet #7 – Jewish Prayer, Feasts, and Festivals (for Monday, 1/29/07)

A) What do you think is the function of each of the biblical focus readings for today? That is, how can they be used?

Psalm 1 –

Psalm 2 –

Psalms 148-150 –

Lamentations –

Song of Songs –

Based on the readings for Monday and at least one additional resource (dictionary article, reputable websites, etc.), answer the following questions for the feast that corresponds to your group number (circle it):

1) Rosh Hashanah / New Year;  2) Yom Kippur / Day of Atonement;  3) Sukkot / Tabernacles;  4) Pesach / Passover;
5) Shavuot / Pentecost;  6) Hanukkah / Feast of Lights;  7) Purim / Feast of Lots;  8) Simchat Torah / Torah Rejoicing

  • When is it celebrated on the Jewish calendar?
  • What biblical and/or historical event does it commemorate?
  • Which biblical texts mention or explain this feast? (cite explicit biblical references)
  • How do Jews usually celebrate this feast today?

Give full bibliographical information for the additional resource (book or website) you used:

Worksheet #8 – Branches of Judaism Today (for Wednesday, 1/31/07)

1) After reading the Book of Ruth carefully (only four chapters!):

a) What do you think is the main message of this book?

b) Why do you think this short story was included in the Hebrew Bible?

2) After reading the selections from the Book of Proverbs (and noting how ch. 1-4 and ch. 30-31 are different!):

a) Who do you think was the “original audience” of this book? That is, for whom was it initially written?

b) What is the main message of purpose of this book, or rather, for these various collections of proverbs?

3) Based on the secondary readings assigned for today (Judaism: VSI, and ERes: Schoen), list some of the significant differences between the four main branches of contemporary Judaism:





Worksheet #9 – Intro to Christianity: NT Christology (for Wednesday, 2/7/07)

1) After reading the Gospel according to Mark carefully (all 16 chapters):

a) What does Mark call Jesus? What “titles” are ascribed to Jesus in this Gospel?
(Briefly list all you find, giving at least one chapter & verse reference for each title):

b) How does Mark portray Jesus? What actions or aspects of Jesus’ life are emphasized in this Gospel?  (list what you see as the most important ones, again giving specific ch./v. refs in parentheses after each one)

c) What does Mark say about discipleship? What, acc. to Mark, is expected of people who follow Jesus?  (as usual, give specific ch./v. refs in parentheses after each one of your assertions)

2) What did you find most interesting or surprising about B. Metzger’s explanation of the “NT Canon” (ERes)?

Worksheet #10 – Jesus and the Gospels (for Friday, 2/9/07)

1) After reading ch. 1 of L. Woodhead’s Christianity: A Very Short Introduction? – Which of the four main views of Jesus comes closest to your own beliefs? How and why?  Or are your beliefs different from all four? How?  Explain:

2) What is L. Woodhead’s main thesis in ch. 2 (“Signs and Symbols…”) of Christianity: A Very Short Introduction?

3) How does each of the four Gospels conclude?  Briefly describe both the content (what happens at the very end), and what message you think each Evangelist is trying to emphasize by ending his Gospel in this particular way:

Mark 16 (vv. 1-8 only) –

Matthew 28

Luke 24

John 20&21

Worksheet #11 – Growth & Variety of Christianities (for Monday, 2/12/07)

1) How is the “Council of Jerusalem” recalled very differently by Luke (in Acts 15) and by Paul (in Galatians 1-2)?
According to each account, what was the main problem/issue, and what was the result/aftermath of the meeting?



2) What are the three or four main points in D. Senior’s summary of “The Bible in Catholic Life” (CSB-RG 16-29)?

3) Based on ch. 3 & 4 of Christianity: VSI, summarize the main features of L. Woodhead’s three main types:

Church Christianity –

Biblical Christianity –

Mystical Christianity –

Worksheet #12 – Growth & Variety of Christianities (for Wednesday, 2/14/07)

1) Based on 1 Corinthians 11-14, what were some of the main features of Early Christian worship services?


2) Briefly summarize what the Letter of James says about the following topics:

Wealth & Poverty –

Faith & Works –

Sin & Sickness –

3) Based on ch. 5 & 6 of Christianity: VSI, describe some of the distinctive features of contemporary Christianity in different parts of the world:

Western Europe & North America:

Eastern Europe:

South America, Africa & Asia:

Worksheet #13 – Christian Ethics & Eschatology (for Friday, 2/14/07)

1) Based on Matthew 5–7 and other texts we have read from the NT Gospels so far (or other passages you know), what four or five passages best summarize Jesus’ teachings about Christian Ethics (i.e., how believers should act)?   As usual, give exact biblical references.


2) What do the following texts say about Christian Eschatology (i.e., conceptions about “The End of the World” and “The Hereafter”)? Note the variety of opinions expressed in these texts, esp. on the question “when?” or “how soon?”

1 Thessalonians 4:

Mark 13:

2 Peter 3:

Revelation 19–22:

3) What is your own opinion about Eschatology (the End of the World and/or the Afterlife)?

Worksheet #14 – Muhammad & the Qur’an (for Friday, 2/23/07)

1) According to Ch. 1 of Malise Ruthven’s Islam: A Very Short Introduction, what are Islam and Islamism, and how are they related to each other?  Be explicit and detailed in your response:

2) Acc. to Ch. 2 of Ruthven’s Islam: VSI, what are some of the various ways Muslims view the prophet Muhammad? Again, show some depth and detail in your response:

3) What is the main point of Michael Cook’s “The Message of the Koran” (ch. 2 of The Koran: VSI – on ERes)?

4) Having reading both Ch. 2 of Ruthven (Islam: VSI) and Ch. 2 of Cook (Koran: VSI), what questions do you still have about the Qur’an?

Worksheet #15 – The Qur’an & Pillars of Islamic Practice (for Monday, 2/26/07)

1a) Based on your reading of Yusuf Ali’s lyrical “Introduction” (pp. 1-12), what is your impression of the overall content and message of the Qur’an?

1b) Based on your reading of the selected ayahs for today (Surah 2:122-152, 183-203, 261-281), what is your initial impression of the genre and style of the Qur’an?

2) After reading the various handouts, websites, and the Appendix of Ruthven’s Islam: VSI, formulate one or two questions for each of the five “pillars” of Islamic practice (give specific refs. from the Qur’an, if possible):

a) Shahada / Declaration of Faith:

b) Salat / Ritual Prayer:

c) Zakat / Almsgiving:

d) Sawm / Fasting:

e) Hajj / Pilgrimage:

Worksheet #16 – Islam: Branches & Issues (for Friday, 3/2/07)

1) Based on your reading of “Divine Unicity” (Ch. 3 of M. Ruthven’s Islam: VSI), list several of the most important characteristics of Shi’ite Muslims and Sufi Muslims that distinguish each of them from the majority Sunni Muslims:



2) Based on Ch. 4 of Ruthven’s Islam: VSI, briefly explain what Shari’a is, and what role it plays in a Muslim’s life:

3) What two or three items most surprised you (positively and/or negatively) about the role of women and family in Islam, as discussed in Ch. 5 of Ruthven’s Islam: VSI ?

4) What two (or more) questions about Islam would you like to ask our guest speaker, Maha ElGenaidi, this Friday?

Worksheet #17 – Readings from the Qur’an (for Monday, 3/5/07)

1) For each of the following Quranic texts (assigned over the past few days), write a few comments about what particularly surprised or shocked you, inspired or disturbed you, enlightened or confused you (3 on front, 3 on back of 1/2 sheet).

Surah 8:1-37, 65-75

Surah 14:1-52

Surah 22:1-48

Surah 24:1-34

Surah 41:1-54

Surah 44:1-59



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