Heresy : Diversity & Dissent In World Religions

OSH 255 / Non Credit
Course taught in: English
Locations: LFH 102
Instructor: Dr. Marsha Cohen

Course Description

Heresy is a term applied to the interpretation and/or practice of a religion that deviates from the official or canonical version of the faith. According to the Renaissance humanist Sebastian Castellio (1515-1563), "We are all heretics in the eyes of those who do not share our views." In this course we will examine evidence of controversies that date back to the origin of some of the religious traditions, and some of which have survived in modified form to this day. What were the controversies that gave rise to accusations of heresy? What were the reactions to heresy, and how did those accused of heresy respond? What can we learn from these early heresies about the nature of religious faith, doubt and dissent?  

Week 1

Judaism: the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran Community

Week 2

Greek and Roman Mystery Cults: “New religions” of the ancient world

Week 3

Christianity: the Gnostic Gospels

Week 4

Zoroastrianism: the Zurvanite Heresy

Week 5

Islam: Misquoting Muhammad? 

Week 6

Hindu Mythology: Shiva and the Kapalika

Dr. Marsha B. Cohen, PhD, is an scholar, lecturer and news analyst who specializes in Middle Eastern social history and politics and the role of religion in world affairs. She taught International Relations at Florida International University for over a decade, and worked with the UM Master of Arts in the International Administration (MAIA) program from 2009-2011, as well as teaching adult education courses and lecturing in a variety of venues locally and nationally.

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