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RST-331-20, Comparative Religious Ethics (FA14)

INSTRUCTOR:  Dr. Brian Berry 

SCHEDULE/DAY/TIME:  Semester/Saturday/8:30-11:15AM, 09/06/2014-12/13/2014

CONTENT:

This course is an introduction to the comparative study of the ethics of the  world religions, with an emphasis on the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Following initial discussion of the context and method of religious ethics, the first part of the course will provide an overview of Jewish ethics, with attention to its sources and foundations, followed by consideration of Jewish approaches to sexuality, abortion and war. The second part of the course will then discuss Christian ethics, focusing on the relation between Christian faith and ethical approaches that emphasize goals, duties or virtues. The third part of the course will then address Islamic ethics, particularly the life of the Prophet Muhammad, the Qur’an, and Islamic approaches to violence and gender roles. The fourth  and final part of the course will then compare Jewish, Christian and Islamic ethics on personal issues related to sex, marriage and family and social issues related to war and the environment.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: 

This course is designed to enable students to:

1. Appreciate the interdisciplinary character of religious ethics and how it appeals tohistorical, scientific, religious and philosophical sources.

2. Understand the distinctive features of Jewish, Christian and Islamic ethics.

3. Identify the similarities and differences between Jewish, Christian and Islamic ethics.

4. Apply Jewish, Christian and Islamic ethics to personal moral issues related to sex, marriage and family and social moral issues related to war and the environment.

5. Express clearly and convincingly, both orally and in writing, their own positions on a range of contemporary moral issues.

6. Demonstrate a capacity for mature ethical judgments consistent with the Christian tradition.

METHODS:

1. Focused readings

2. Weekly short papers

3. Class discussions

4. Lectures

REQUIREMENTS AND ASSIGNMENTS:

1. Attendance at all classes and active participation (10%).

2. Eight one-page papers (40%).

3. A mid-term exam (20%).

4. A final research paper and presentation (30%).

REQUIRED TEXT(S) OR MATERIALS:

1. Newman, Louis E. An Introduction to Jewish Ethics. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. ISBN 0132388901.

2. Lovin, Robin W. An Introduction to Christian Ethics. Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2011.ISBN 13: 9780687467365.

3. Hussain, Amir. Oil and Water: Two Faiths, One God. Kelowna, Canada: CopperHouse,2006. ISBN 10: 1896836828 and 13: 9781896836829.

4. Mathewes, Charles. Understanding Religious Ethics. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell,2010. ISBN 9781405133524.

READINGS AND/OR ASSIGNMENTS TO BE DONE PRIOR TO THE FIRST CLASS:

Newman, An Introduction to Jewish Ethics, 1-9.

Lovin, An Introduction to Christian Ethics, v-x.

Hussain, Oil and Water, 10-15.

Mathewes, Understanding Religious Ethics, 1-17, 21-37.