The study of religion is a rich and fascinating dimension of human experience that includes, but goes well beyond, an exploration of beliefs and ritual practices. Through the lens of scriptures, this Religion XSeries will explore how religions are internally diverse, and how they evolve and change as living traditions that impact, and are impacted, by the cultural, historical, and political contexts of adherents. We will explore issues of interpretation through themes such as gender and sexuality, the arts, violence and peace, science, and power and authority. In addition to learning with and from world-renowned scholars, learners will have the opportunity to interact with peers from around the world representing diverse backgrounds, affiliations, and perspectives.

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What you'll learn:

  • How to understand religion in general, and scriptures in particular, with an emphasis on social and historical context.
  • How “scripture” is defined within each tradition and how those understandings have evolved through time and in differing social and historical locations.
  • The diverse ways that “scriptures” are interpreted within each tradition and how the authority to interpret is determined and negotiated.
  • Diverse manifestations of scripture that include but are not restricted to texts.  

Modules in this series include:

Christianity Through Its Scriptures

Buddhism Through Its Scriptures

Islam Through Its Scriptures

Hinduism Through Its Scriptures

Judaism Through Its Scriptures

Religious Literacy: Traditions and Scriptures

World Religions Through Their Scriptures is also an xSeries. Learn more here

Meet The Faculty

Diane L.  Moore

Diane L. Moore

Senior Lecturer and the Director of the Religious Literacy Project, Harvard University

Diane L. Moore is a Senior Lecturer and the Director of the Religious Literacy Project at the Harvard Divinity School. She is also a Senior Scholar at the Center for the Study of World Religions.

Karen L. King

Karen L. King

Hollis Professor of Divinity, Harvard University

Karen L. King is the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard University in the Divinity School. She received her B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Montana and her Ph.D. in History of Religions: Ancient Christianity from Brown University

Charles Hallisey

Charles Hallisey

Yehan Numata Senior Lecturer on Buddhist Literatures Professor, Harvard University

Dr. Charles Hallisey is a Professor at Harvard Divinity School and the Yehan Numata Senior Lecturer on Buddhist Literatures. He received his Ph.D. at University of Chicago and previously taught in the Department of Theology at Loyola University in Chicago, and at Harvard University, where he was John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities in the Committee on the Study of Religion and the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies from 1996 to 2001.

Ali S. Asani

Ali S. Asani

Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures, Harvard University

Ali S. Asani is professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic religion and cultures at Harvard University. A native of Kenya, Asani received both his undergraduate degree summa cum laude in the comparative study of religion and his PhD in Near Eastern languages and civilizations from Harvard University. He has taught at Harvard since 1983, offering instruction in a variety of South Asian and African languages as well as courses on various aspects of the Islamic tradition. He currently directs the university's PhD program in Indo-Muslim Culture and chairs the department of Near Eastern languages and civilizations. He also serves as the associate director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program.

Asani has been active since Sept 11 in improving the American understanding of Islam and its role in Muslim societies by conducting workshops for high school and college educators and making presentations at public forums. He is also involved in the Islamic Cultural Studies Initiative, an international professional development program for high school teachers in Kenya, Pakistan, and Texas intended to promote a culturally and historically based approach to the study of Islam and Muslim societies. In 2002, he was awarded the Harvard Foundation medal for his contributions to improving intercultural and interracial relations.

PhD, Harvard University

Neelima Shukla-Bhatt

Neelima Shukla-Bhatt

Associate Professor Director of South Asia Studies Program, Wellesley College

Neelima is an Associate Professor and Director of South Asia Studies (with a focus on religions and cultures) at Wellesley College. She received her Ph.D. in the Study of Religion from Harvard University in 2003.

Shaye Cohen

Shaye Cohen

Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

Shaye J. D. Cohen is the Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations of Harvard University. He received his Ph.D. in Ancient History, with distinction, from Columbia University in 1975.

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