Understanding Religious Symbolism

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Overview

In the first lecture, we will consider the question of what religion is, and ponder which cultural practices and expressions we can call “religious.” Students will evaluate current prevailing definitions of religion and query concepts such as “religious orientation” and the “religiosity” of human beings. The second lecture will begin with the notion of the sacred and then devote time to exploring the idea of hierophany, the manifestation of the sacred, closely examining symbols of hierophany from many different cultures. The third lecture focuses on characteristics of symbolism, and religious symbolism in particular.

This course offers students a basic knowledge of religion and symbolism, and serves as a preliminary to my two other courses, “Myths, Rituals, and Cosmos” and “Religious Symbols of the World,” both of which contain many more concrete examples of religious expressions from the various cultures of the world.

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