This course is an introduction to the comparative study of religion, focusing on the three major Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Special attention will be devoted to the historical development of each tradition within and around the Mediterranean, but we will also spend time discussing basic doctrines and dominant practices. Comparative by design, this course encourages students to understand and appreciate the common lineages of these traditions, as well as their radical divergences.
Field WorkCountry: Italy
Day: 3 - Civitavecchia - Friday, 26 July
For millions of Catholics throughout the world, Rome—and more specifically Vatican City—is a sacred site of pilgrimage. Home to the Holy See (i.e., central hierarchy) of the Roman Catholic Church, a visit to Rome provides an opportunity to explore the Pope’s official residence, tour the famous Vatican Museums, and worship in numerous basilicas that contain, or are themselves, iconic masterpieces of western art. By following the footsteps of these pilgrims, visiting the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, students will experience a religious tradition in what is arguably its most triumphant form. To help students see that this sort of triumphalism often carries with it a darker history of religious oppression, we will spend the second part of our day at the Jewish Museum of Rome and on a walking tour of the ghetto into which Jews were confined for over 300 years. This portion of the lab will also include a tour of the Great Synagogue of Rome which, built after the Jews were granted citizenship in the late 19th century, marks another sort of religious triumph. Academic Objectives: After this Field Lab, students will have:
- Reinforced their understanding of the history of early Christendom in the Roman World, and the prominence of Rome therein.
- A better understanding of the institutional and theological structure of the Catholic tradition.
- Gained more information about the basic features of different types of churches and synagogues.
- Been introduced to the history of Catholic oppression of Jews during the Renaissance.
- Experienced the daily worship of Christians in one of the holiest sites of their tradition.