Foundational Religions of Europe: From Odin to Allah (Section 3)

Discipline: Religion General
Instructor: Smith
Credits: 3
Day: C
Start: 1520
End: 1635
Field Work: Day 4 - Dublin - Sunday, 13 July | Ireland Download Syllabus

This course is an introduction to what are commonly called ‘Western’ religious traditions (as opposed to religions of Asian origin and influence). While all contemporary world religions are global in practice we will concentrate on the religions that really defined European consciousness and society up through the modern period. These religions include the monotheisms:  Judaism, Christianity and Islam that created and mapped– with theology, politics and architecture – the sacred landscape of Europe. But special attention is also given to the indigenous faiths of Europe – including the Celtic and Viking worldviews which interacted, to an extraordinary degree, with Christianity.  Finally we will look at new religious movements in Europe – especially those that seek to revitalize indigenous European faiths.

Field Work

Country: Ireland
Day: 4 - Dublin - Sunday, 13 July

In the morning we will visit the Hill of Tara, coronation place of Ireland’s pre-Christian kings, and is one of Ireland’s most famous sites.  The hill includes a number of ancient earthworks, including a small passage tomb, The Mound of the Hostages and the Rath of the Synods.  The Stone of Destiny, associated with the kingship is also found here.  Perhaps most striking is the view from the hill and this provides a perfect location for a storytelling session by our tour guide British Bard, Andrew Steed who will demonstrate the cultural and religious importance of this traditional performance art. We will enjoy a picnic lunch and question and answer session with Andrew on the Hill. In the afternoon we will travel to Bru na Boinne Visitor Center which is the entry point for guided tours of Newgrange and Knowth passage graves and which houses an exhibit hall.  The Boyne Valley complex is one of the most important Neolithic constructions in Europe.  Newgrange is famous for its alignment with the rising sun, the light of which fills the chamber on the winter solstice. Both Newgrange and Knowth are inscribed with an enormous number of examples of Neolithic ritual art including  chevrons, circles, cups, and spirals, highlighting the famous spiral kerbstone at Newgrange. Academic Objectives: 1.  Develop an appreciation for the relationship of religion to landscape and the human recognition and construction of sacred space. 2. Familiarize students with prehistoric sites of religious and social importance to pre-Celtic religions. 3. Emphasize the continuing relevance of these sites for religious pilgrims.