Category Archives: Lectures (Judaism)

This category is filled with my lecture information on Ancient Israelite Religion, 1st century Judaisms and Rabbinic Judaism.

Tips on commenting

What the blog is:

This blog is dedicated to the academic study of religion. The goal of the blog is to help students and teachers navigate the history of religion.

What the blog is not:

This blog is not associated with any religious tradition or any anti-religious organization. I will not approve any comments which use offensive language or derogatory comments about religious traditions or religious peoples.

Feel free to disagree with the information posted. I am open to conversation and questions but please be respectful.

Thank you!

Leave a comment

Filed under Lectures (Academic Study of Religion), Lectures (Judaism), Lectures (New Religious Movements), Teaching World Religions

Very Basic Introduction to Judaism

Information/terms to assist you with the reading (I created this brief summary for my NRM students who needed some supplemental background information regarding why many American NRMs were invoking terms sacred to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and what these concepts signified for the older “mother” traditions.)

This summary written by Katherine Daley-Bailey.

Judaism: (Jews) This religion is an ancient tradition spanning thousands of years. Jews see themselves as descendants of the Hebrews (a nomadic people), the ancient Israelites (belonging to the kingdom of Israel dating to around 1000 b.c.e), and the people of Judah (people of Judah= Jews). For Jews, this religious history, documented in their Bible, tells the story of their ancestors and explains their unique relationship with the God of the Hebrews. The Bible tells of a relationship between the God of the Hebrews and the patriarch Abraham. God promises Abraham many descendents and a special land if Abraham will worship only Him. Jews view themselves as descendents of Abraham and thereby heirs to this promise and land. The “promised land” that Jews believe was given to them is roughly the same space as the current nation of Israel.

Texts: Jews are often referred to as “the people of the book” because of the central role sacred texts play in their religion. The core of these sacred texts is called the TaNaKh (an acronym which stands for Torah (“the Law”, the 1st 5 books in this text), the Nevi’im (the Prophetic texts), and the Ketuvim (the other writings). (To be continued)

Leaders: The Bible speaks of a time when the Jews had a temple in the city of Jerusalem. This temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 c.e. and has never been rebuilt. The temple had been run by temple priests, specially trained officials. After the temple was destroyed, Judaism no longer needed a priesthood and the religion became dominated by very wise, learned, Jewish men named Rabbis. After the destruction of the Jerusalem temple, more emphasis was placed on the local community centers of Jews, called synagogues.

Time: Judaism has been credited with pioneering the concept of linear time (meaning that time has a definitive beginning and will have a definitive end). Prior to this concept, most scholars believe that a majority of people worshipped nature gods and goddesses and believed time was cyclical (modeling the agricultural cycle). Believing that their God acts in history, when they fell on hard times and they saw no way out, Jews have historically believed that God would intervene on their behalf in some way.

Identity: Just as Jews believe that their God gave them a “promised land”, they also believe that their God has picked them as His “chosen people.” This means there are special laws (behavioral- diet, ritual, etc.) that they must follow. Sometimes Judaism is described as a religion and an ethnicity… and a way of life. Some Jews believe you must have a Jewish mother to be Jewish, although this is a matter of debate.

References to this “promised land”: Zion, Israel, Judah, the “land of milk and honey”, etc.

Exodus: After many generations, the descendents of Abraham, known then as the Hebrews ended up as state slaves in Egypt. The God of the Hebrews heard of their suffering under slavery and called upon a man name Moses to help liberate them. After much back and forth with the Egyptian ruler, the pharaoh, Moses was able to lead the “children of Israel” out of slavery in Egypt. However, as they were traveling, the pharaoh changes his mind and sends chariots after the slaves. Moses is left leading the Hebrew slaves into a barren wilderness with the Egyptian chariots at their back. They come to the Red Sea and Moses calls upon God to help them. The Hebrew God parts the Red Sea, allowing the Hebrew slaves to run through to the other side and then He lets the sea crash upon the Egyptian chariots. The Hebrew slaves are now free but they are tired, hungry, and not sure where this “promised land” is that they are supposed to find. Moses is leading them but they grumble against him. While Moses is talking to the Hebrew God on Mount Sinai, the slaves decide to make an idol to worship. This makes God and Moses extremely upset because their agreement with God is worship only Him. The Hebrew God kills some of those who participated and tells the rest that because of their sin, they will spend 40 years in the wilderness before they can enter the land he promised them. After 40 years, Moses dies, and Joshua, his successor, leads the Hebrew slaves into the “promised land.” However, there are other people living in this land. Joshua and the Hebrew slaves must drive out the other inhabitants. This is referred to as the “conquest for Canaan.” This land will become the ancient kingdom of Israel and the center of the kingdom will be Jerusalem. These ideas and images will be invoked again and again by Jews and Christians. Each group will depict themselves as the “chosen ones of God”, “the children of Abraham”, the true Israel, and will believe this story to be THEIR story. For American movements often the “promised land” is not Jerusalem but there is a NEW Jerusalem, America itself.

Leave a comment

Filed under Lectures (Academic Study of Religion), Lectures (Judaism), Lectures (New Religious Movements)

New Religious Movements syllabus spring 2011



CRN: 17146 Spring 2011   Classroom: General Classroom 617  Instructor: Daley

Class times: 12-1:15 pm Mondays and Wednesdays

Office hours: 10-11 am Mondays and Wednesdays 

Office: room #1147  11th floor of 34 Peachtree Street     Contact:

Motto: “You don’t have to believe anything, but you must know everything.” Dr. Thomas Slater

Course Description: This course will focus on New Religious Movements primarily in the context of theUnited States.  The term “new,” in this instance, refers to religious developments within the last three hundred years. Topics include but are not limited to the following: the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints, the Holiness and Pentecostal movements, the Adventist and Jehovah’s Witness movements, Christian Science, the Nation of Islam, African American Christianity and the Civil Rights movement, Hasidism, Neo-Paganism, Sufism inAmerica, as well as modern variations in Catholicism.

Primary learning objectives: By the end of this course, students will be able to discuss the theoretical components which usually constitute a religious tradition. Students will be able to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the origins and historical context of the topics listed above in an articulate manner in both academic discussions and through the written word.

Course requirements:

*Students are required to complete ALL assignments by the due date.*

*Students must come to class well-prepared to be actively engaged on the topic of the day. This requires students to read all materials assigned.*

*Students should bring their course textbook(s) with them to class each day.*

Course assignments:

Terms quiz: 10%

2 Tests each 25%= 50% 

1 Final=30%

Group Project=10%

Assignment details:  Class attendance and participation requires that a student come to class on time, be prepared to discuss the homework assigned and actively engage themselves in the class. All tests will consist of matching, multiple choice, and two short-essay questions.

Grading policy:

100- 98%= A+             97-93%= A                92-90%= A-                

86-89%= B+                 83-85%= B                  80-82%= B-

76-79%= C+               73-75%=C                 70-72%=C-

69-60%= D                 59% or below= F

Attendance policy: Students should attend class regularly. You will not receive an attendance grade. However, a word of caution, there is a direct correlation between students who come to class and those who do well in this class.

Make-up examination and late papers: Emergency cases only: Should a student miss an exam due to an emergency, they must provide official documentation explaining why they missed the exam: for example: a doctor’s note, a tow-truck slip, a note from another academic or government office. Make-up exams must be completed within 1 week of the original exam date. All make-up exams will be different from the original exam. One letter grade will automatically be deducted from all papers turned in late.

Required course materials:

  1. America’s Alternative Religions edited by Timothy Miller, $32.95 Paperback, Release Date: July 1995, ISBN10: 0-7914-2398-0, ISBN13: 978-0-7914-2398-1
  2. The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  3. Sacred Matters by Gary Laderman

Recommended: Course copy packet from The Print Shop (you will need the CRN #)

*** “The course syllabus provides a general plan for the course; deviations may be necessary.”***

***Important Date: Feb. 25th: Midpoint (last day to withdraw) ***

Week 1: Snow week

 Week 2: Monday, Jan. 17th **No Class** MLK Jr. Holiday

Wednesday, Jan. 19th Introduction (Miller) and Terms

HW: Course Packet (CP) The Transformation of American Religion (Porterfield), (CP) Miller Introduction p.1-10, Miller chapter 2 p. 23-32

 Week 3: Monday, Jan. 24th Brief Overview (with Porterfield highlights) and Methodist Holiness and Pentecostal spirituality (Miller chapter 2)

 HW: Miller chapter 4 p.47-59

Wednesday, Jan. 26th Methhodist Holiness and Pentecostal cont’d

 Week 4: Monday, Jan. 31st Finish Holiness and Pentacostal, Continued Revelation- Mormonism/ Latter Day Saints Churches

HW: (CP) Hackett- Genesis of Mormonism p. 167- 184

Wednesday, Feb. 2nd  Continued Revelation- Mormonism/ Latter Day Saints Churches

HW: Miller chapter 5 p. 61-68, p.99

 Week 5: Monday, Feb. 7th Christian Science and American Culture, Contemporary Christian and Jewish Movements

 HW: read Miller chapter 9 p.101-107, chapter 10 p. 109-117

Wednesday, Feb. 9th Roman Catholic Traditions and Hasidism and Its Effects on Alternative Jewish in America

HW: read Miller p. 231, 233-242, 275, 277-283,

Week 6: Monday, Feb. 14th  **TERMS QUIZ**Expressions of Islam in America and Black Jews and Black Muslims, Nation of Islam

HW: The Autobiography of Malcolm X (Introduction, chapters 1-2)

Wednesday, Feb. 16th The Autobiography of Malcolm X

HW: The Autobiography of Malcolm X (chapters 3-10)

 Week 7: Monday, Feb. 21st  The Autobiography of Malcolm X

 HW: The Autobiography of Malcolm X (chapters 11-15)

Wednesday, Feb. 23rd The Autobiography of Malcolm X

HW: finish The Autobiography of Malcolm X (chapters16-19),(CP) Hackett- Martin and Malcolm p. 407-421

 **Feb. 28th– Mar. 6th: Spring Break**

 Week 8: Monday, March 7th The Autobiography of Malcolm X (conclusions)

  HW: read Miller chapter 23 p. 249-258, (CP) Smithsonian Article on Sufism p. 37-47

Wednesday, March 9th Sufism in America

HW: Read Miller p. 275, (CP) Hackett- African Americans, Exodus, and the American Israel p.73- 86

Week 9: Monday, March 14th African American Christianity and the Civil Rights movement

HW: read Miller chapter 28 p. 291-296, chapter 33 p. 331-337

Wednesday, March 16th Test 1

 Week 10: Monday, March 21st Santeria and Vodou in the U.S. and Spiritualism and Channeling

HW: Read (CP) Hackett- The Lakota Ghost Dance p. 327-342

Wednesday, March 23rd The Lakota Ghost Dance (clip about the Ghost Dance in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee)

 HW: Sacred Matters Introduction (xiii-xviii) and Chapter 1: Film (1-22)

 Week 11: Monday, March 28th Sacred Matters

 HW: Sacred Matters Chapter 2: Music (23- 42)

Wednesday, March 30th (Guest lecturer: Christa Lasher, topic: Wicca and Neo-Paganism)

HW: Sacred Matters Chapter 3: Sports (43-62), Chapter 4: Celebrity (63-84)

Week 12: Monday, April 4th Sacred Matters

Wednesday, April 6th: Test 2

HW: Sacred Matters Chapter 5: Science (85-102), Chapter 6: Medicine (103-122)

 Week 13: Monday, April 11th Sacred Matters

HW: Sacred Matters Chapter 7: Violence (123-140)

Wednesday, April 13th: Sacred Matters

HW: Sacred Matters Chapter 8: Sexuality (141-160), Article: The Religious Theft of Sacred Culture (

 Week 14: Monday, April 18th: (Guest lecturer: Kenny Smith, topic: New Religious Movements)

 HW: Sacred Matters Chapter 9: Death (161-180)

Wednesday, April 20th: Sacred Matters

 Week 15: Monday, April 25th: conclusions

**The final exam will be given during the appointed final exam period.**

Leave a comment

Filed under Lectures (Academic Study of Religion), Lectures (Christianity), Lectures (Islam), Lectures (Judaism), Lectures (New Religious Movements), Teaching World Religions