390syllabus - SUNY/STONY BROOK HIS 390 Religion in the...

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SUNY/STONY BROOK HIS 390: Religion in the Ancient World Spring, 2008 Instructor: R. Goldenberg Class time: MWF 9:35-10:30 Office: SocBehSci S-359 Class location: Lecture Center 101 Office phone: (63)2-7484 Office hours: Mon 12-2, Wed 12-1 Religion was an important dimension of all ancient societies, but the full significance of this fact remains hidden if we understand "religion" as the word is commonly used today. This course will examine the religious dimension of five different ancient environments with the double goal of deepening our understanding of the ancient world and broadening our understanding of the character and function of religion in all times and places. The course will not proceed by asking the same questions of every ancient civilization. We shall not simply say, "Well, these were the Egyptian gods, and these the Babylonian, and these the Greek ..., " as though every ancient culture was just a variation on the same set of themes. Instead, each unit of the course will pay close attention to a particular feature of the culture under study, not the same feature in every case: by the end, we shall have discovered several quite different ways of studying "religion" and several quite different phenomena that can be called by that name. The subject matter of our course, "Religion in the Ancient World," will emerge as the sum total of all those phenomena. Students should take note that the readings listed below will not duplicate the lectures. In keeping with the goals of the course, the readings will not offer standard surveys of religion in Egypt, Babylonia, Greece, Judaea, and so forth; in keeping with those goals, each book will shed special light on particular features of the culture in question.
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