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Learn how to interpret sacred texts

XSeries Program in
World Religions Through Their Scriptures
HarvardX

What you will learn

  • Interpret the roles world religions to play in today and throughout history.
  • Appreciate the internal diversity and evolution of world religions and their scriptures.
  • Understand the strengths and limitations of learning about world religions through their sacred texts.
  • Explore how scriptures are interpreted to diverse ends in different historical and cultural contexts.
  • Engage in nuanced readings of world scriptures.

The study of religion is rich and fascinating — and goes well beyond beliefs and ritual practices. In this series, learners explore the diversity and evolution of the religions around the world. Through scripture, learners will explore themes such as gender and sexuality, art and science, violence and peace, and power and authority.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are global religions with diversity in language, culture, history, and creed, but the sacred scriptures of the Tanakh, the Bible, and the Quran give followers a shared language. How do Jews draw inspiration and guidance from traditional texts? How have Christians lived out their stories and teachings? What is the relationship between the Quran and the prophet Mohammed? This series will answer these questions and introduce you to these scriptures.

Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism present a rich array of religious texts from across the Indian subcontinent. How do these texts influence the lives of adherents? What challenges do multiple collections of scriptures present for practitioners? Why is Sikhism, the fifth largest religion, relatively unknown in the Western world? Learners will explore the tenets, beliefs, and history of these followers by analyzing scripture, literature, and contemporary media relevant to these religions.

Both the faithful and the questioning are invited to join us as we traverse the globe to explore the power of the written word and its relevance to contemporary public life and the spiritual lives of all who encounter it.

Expert instruction
7 high-quality courses
Self-paced
Progress at your own speed
7 months
5 - 10 hours per week
$308.70
$343USD
For the full program experience

Courses in this program

  1. HarvardX's World Religions Through Their Scriptures XSeries

  2. 5–10 hours per week, for 4 weeks
    Learn how to better understand the rich and complex ways that religions function in historic and contemporary contexts.
  3. 5–10 hours per week, for 4 weeks
    Learn about Christianity through a study of its sacred scriptures. We will explore how diverse Christians have interpreted these writings and practiced their teachings over a 2000 year, global history.
  4. 5–10 hours per week, for 4 weeks
    Learn about the rich and diverse beliefs and practices of Buddhists across time and place. Experience Buddhism through its scriptures, both relationally as well as academically.
  5. 5–10 hours per week, for 4 weeks
    Learn about the Quran, the central sacred text of Islam, through an exploration of the rich diversity of roles and interpretations in Muslim societies.
  6. 5–10 hours per week, for 4 weeks
    Learn about the rich diversity of Hindu sacred texts – hymns, narratives, philosophical thought – and their interpretations.
  7. 5–10 hours per week, for 4 weeks
    Learn about the key beliefs and practices of Judaism through an examination of its sacred texts and their interpretation.
  8. 5–10 hours per week, for 4 weeks
    This course examines the Sikh scripture from a doctrinal and historical perspective by providing an overview of Sikh teachings as well as the historical context within which the scripture evolved and became canonized.

Meet your instructors

from Harvard University (HarvardX)
Diane L. Moore
Senior Lecturer and the Director of the Religious Literacy Project
Harvard University
Karen L. King
Hollis Professor of Divinity
Harvard University
Ali Asani
Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures
Harvard University
Charles Hallisey
Yehan Numata Senior Lecturer on Buddhist Literatures
Harvard University
Neelima Shukla-Bhatt
Associate Professor
Wellesley College
Shaye Cohen
Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Harvard University
Harpreet Singh
Scholar of Sikhism and South Asian Religions Traditions
Harvard University
Ravinder Singh
Teaching Assistant
Harvard University
Damanpreet Singh
Teaching Assistant
Harvard University

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$308.70
$343USD
7 courses in 7 months
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