WORLD RELIGIONS (Philo/Relig 1150) On-line Course

Presumably, you have already written the Midterm Concept Analysis; this Final Concept Analysis is the same assignment, but with questions from the last half of the course. So again, you must write a short essay, this one due by the last day of the term and focused on some aspect of the religions we studied in the second half of the course. Again, you will find several questions below, and you must write on ONLY ONE of them. The specific rules include are noted here as before, except with changes of the due date and late-paper policy.

a) As noted, you need to respond to only ONE of the questions here. It should ultimately be a 3-page essay, typed and double-spaced, with standard margin and font sizes. It needs to be in Word document or some other easily transferred word processing program and sent to the instructor as an attachment to an e-mail. Do not expect me to log onto some other website (like GoogleDocs) to find your paper. My email is richterk@cod.edu.

b) The due date for this final essay assignment is stated in the syllabus and course schedule. Be sure you know the due date; the paper cannot be late, period. You may of course send the essay in early. You’ll see that the first two questions here are from Unit Four, the next two from Unit Five, and the last two from Unit Six, and it sort of makes sense that if you want to write about, e.g., Judaism (Question #1 or #2), you might want to work on it while you’re studying Judaism.

c) You are not required for this paper to use research sources other than our text and the provided course materials. If you use our text, or if you do choose to add extra research, be sure to give proper credit for any quotations or ideas. Plagiarism will be punished by expulsion from the course and your name turned in for Academic Discipline.

d) Proper grammar and spelling are not ends in themselves, but they are necessary for clear and undistracted communication. Write clearly and carefully.

e) The paper should be carefully written for accurate information on the topic noted. It should also have a thesis and an argumentative point to make, so that analysis and your individual thinking are evident. That is, note how the question asks you to explain what you actually conclude about this topic. But note, too, that a conclusion must rest on good information and good thinking.

OK? If you have further questions about this assignment, contact your instructor as soon as possible. The instructor can also help with ideas and outlines, but of course you’ll need to be ahead of the deadline. The due date deadline will not be extended.

See “The Questions” on the next page…


1. Give a little of the history by which the Jews justify being called the “Chosen People.” Clarify how it implies a covenant, and how that covenant was both for the Jews and a means by which “all people would be blessed.” At the same time, it seems the God of the Jews is to be understood as the Creator of all things, of all people. How might Jews reconcile the idea of universal God and “God of the Jews?” Do you think this idea of the absolute, universal God having a “chosen people” and speaking through them makes any sense? Be critical and fair.

2. Using perhaps a contrast with polytheism (e.g., Hindu gods) and monism (e.g., Brahman or Tao), describe a bit the monotheistic God concept of Judaism. Analyze it critically as a philosophical concept and explain why you do, or do not, think it is reasonable compared to the others. (Classically, you might wonder if “personal” attributes – God’s moralism, love/anger – seem too limiting, if God’s activity in history seems too local, not universal, etc., but also that impersonality of Ultimate Being may be insufficient.)

3. It seems that Christians would not want to think that Jesus was just a great teacher or even a prophet, let alone a crazy heretic. Try to show why Christians accord a special, unique status to Jesus, using whatever historical and theological claims apply (miracles, teaching, divinity claims, savior role, etc). Does this special incarnation idea seem warranted? Is Jesus really different from, say, a prophet or a great teacher? Be critical and be fair.

4. If we follow St. Paul, it seems that salvation is by grace, through faith, based on “atonement” through Jesus’ life and death. Explain what this means, and show what theological, historical or scriptural basis it might have. Do you think this is a reasonable view of salvation, or do the ideas of God, morality or human action get weakened? Might they in fact be strengthened?

5. In Islam, the Qur’an is said to be the final, perfect revelation of God to humanity. Explain the extent (in breadth, poetry, language) and basis for this claim (perfect dictation, perfectly preserved, etc.?), perhaps in contrast to the Torah or Gospels. Do you think the idea of a final, ideal book as the complete word of God is reasonable? Be critical and fair.

6. Describe briefly the life and character of Muhammad, noting especially his call and role as the last prophet of God. Give, too, some information about Nanak, his call and prophetic role in the founding of Sikhism. If Muslims consider religion “complete” with Muhammad, must they conclude that Nanak is a false prophet? Could Sikhs give a good reply to the Muslim view, defending the importance of Nanak as religious founder? How might you, as an impartial observer, defend either side of this controversy? Be fair, be critical.

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