(RL ST 044)
Ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian Mythology (3) Survey of major ancient Mediterranean myths, gods, and goddesses in their cultural contexts; influence on later cultures.
CAMS (RL ST) 044 Ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian Mythology (3)
(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.
This course introduces students to a selection of major ancient Mediterranean and Egyptian myths, gods, and goddesses. Ancient Canaan, Mesopotamia, and Egypt (geographically approximating the contemporary Middle East) were primary locations for the development-beginning already in the fourth millennium B.C.E.-of highly complex urban civilizations, many of which persisted until the turn of the Era. These ancient societies were responsible for notable technological achievements, such as writing, sophisticated irrigation systems, and the wheel, and for notable cultural achievements, such as impressive legal codes, highly developed astronomical research, and complex religious systems. This course will acquaint students with some major religious writings stemming from these fascinating old world cultures. The class discusses in some detail a limited range of stories about the divine realm, creation, the flood, kingship, life and death, and sexuality. The course pursues such comparisons by studying myths against the background of the different cultures that produce them. Because a number of these religious myths are historically related, the course will also critically compare the similarities and the differences between them. To underscore how important historical and geographic settings are to understanding these stories, the course uses different techniques of instruction such as small group discussions, slides, lectures, and films.
Three of the world's major religions-Judaism, Christianity, and Islam-trace their roots to the religions of the ancient Near East and Egypt. Hence, some attention will be paid to the similarities and differences between the views expressed in these myths and the views developed in classical Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. By grappling with issues such as divine character, self-identity, and female/male relationships in the ancient Mediterranean world, students will be better acquainted with how classical Judaism, Christianity, and Islam innovate beyond the religious heritage to which they are indebted.
Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.