Understanding World Religions

Understanding World Religions

Taught by Irving Hexham

In the Understanding World Religions course, author and professor Irving Hexham explores the world’s broad sweep of religions under the categories of African religions, the Yogic traditions (including Buddhism), and the Abrahamic traditions. He presents an appreciative yet realistic approach, noting both the strengths and inherent problems of each world religion.

Course Details

  • 15 Units

  • Self-paced

  • 9 hours of video

  • Beginner

  • Understanding World Religions: An Interdisciplinary Approach

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Course Description

Globalization and high-speed communication put twenty-first century people in contact with adherents to a wide variety of world religions, but usually, valuable knowledge of these other traditions is limited at best.

On the one hand, religious stereotypes abound, hampering a serious exploration of unfamiliar philosophies and practices. On the other hand, the popular idea that all religions lead to the same God or the same moral life fails to account for the distinctive origins and radically different teachings found across the world’s many religions. Many Christians, in particular, desire a deeper understanding of the world’s religious landscape.

In the Understanding World Religions course, author and professor Irving Hexham presents religion as a complex and intriguing matrix of history, philosophy, culture, beliefs, and practices. With the understanding that a certain degree of objectivity and critique is inherent in the study of religion, Hexham guides students in responsible ways of carrying this out. Of particular note is Hexham’s inclusion of African religions, which have frequently been absent from major religion texts. He surveys these in addition to varieties of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

By completing this course, you’ll gain:

  • familiarity with the most important figures, practices, and writings of the world’s main religions
  • an understanding of the differences in each religion’s outlook and teaching
  • insight into the formation and distinctives of each religion, as well as the broad traditions under which the world’s religions fall
  • confidence in your growing knowledge through personalized review sessions, including award-winning memory building tools, and unit assessments

Meet Your Instructors

Irving Hexham

Ph.D., University of Bristol, M.A. University of Bristol, B.A. University of Lancaster

Irving Hexham is professor of Religious Studies at the University of Calgary and adjunct professor of World Christianity at Liverpool Hope University. He has published twenty-seven academic books, including The Concise Dictionary of Religion, Understanding Cults and New Religions, and Religion and Economic Thought, plus eighty major academic articles and chapters in books, numerous popular articles, and book reviews. Recently he completed a report for the United Nations’ refugee agency on religious conflict in Africa and another for the Canadian Government’s Department of Canadian Heritage on Religious Publications in Canada. He is listed in Who’s Who in Canada and various scholarly directories. In 2008, he was honored at the historic Humboldt University in Berlin with a Festschrift, Border Crossings: Explorations of an Interdisciplinary Historian (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag).

Course Outline

  • Introductory Issues and a Biased Canon

  • African Traditions, Part 1

  • African Traditions, Part 2

  • The Origin of Yogic Religions

  • The Richness of Hindu Tradition; Rethinking the Hindu Tradition

  • Gandhi the Great Contrarian

  • Buddhism

  • Development of Buddhist Belief and Practice

  • The Moral Quest of Edward Conze; Other Yogic-Type Religions

  • Early Judaism; Rabbinic and Other Judaisms

  • Jewish Faith and Practice; Martin Buber’s Zionist Spirituality

  • Christianity and Christian History

  • Christian Faith and Practice; Christian Politics

  • The Challenge of Islam; Muslim Beliefs and Practices

  • Muslim Piety; Rebirth of Contemporary Islam

 

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