REL 1300

A copy of the syllabus is available here.

I also have some advice to offer to help you write better papers.

Using FSU's on-line resources

As long as you are studying at FSU, you have access to on-line resources that the university has paid for. When you pay tuition fees, one thing you are paying for is the right to access these resources. Why spend all your time looking at free sources, when you have paid for high quality sources?

So, open this link in a new tab: Off-campus Access
First, you will need to enter the username and password that you use for your FSU e-mail account.

Encyclopedia Britannica. Some people say its even better than Wikipedia!
From Oxford University Press we have:
The Oxford English Dictionary: the best source to use if you want to find out the history of a word in English.
Oxford Reference Online: introductory secondary sources.
Oxford Handbooks Online: more advanced secondary source material.
Oxford Scholarship Online: very advanced secondary source material.
EBSCO e-book collection.  30,000 on-line books. That's a complete library in itself. You have various search options. Usually, it isn't best to start with a full-text search. That would give you a list of every book that contains the word you are searching for. There are 329 books that contain the words "Hindu Goddesses", but only four books for which "Hindu Goddesses" is a key-word. Those are the books I'd want to start with. Of those four books, I recommend the ones by Kinsley and John Stratton Hawley. Kinsley devotes each chapter to a particular goddess, Hawley's book is a collection of articles by different scholars, each about a different goddess. You don't have time to read a whole book, but you could easily read and use a couple of these essays.

Then, go back to the original library page. Underneath where it say "Find articles, journals and data-bases", you have the option to go to the most used databases. Click on it, then select JSTOR. JSTOR is a collection of academic journals. For example, there are 33 articles in the religion journals about "Mahadevi". You need to learn how to pick out the best articles. Pay attention to the date of publication. An article published in 1894 about Hinduism's Contact With Christian Salvation is not useful, because of the date and topic. Nor is an article about "Sun and Earth Rulers: What Eyes Cannot See in Mesoamerica", nor is an article about Buddhism. But that leaves more than enough articles that will be helpful to you.

Any further questions, please e-mail me:

Paper 1, Spring 2017 (Santoshi Maa)

Responses to Comparative paper

Responses to Paper 1, Summer 2015

Highlights and Lowlights Spring 2015

Responses to the fact that bad things happen to good people
(Comparative paper)


Is Buddhism an Atheistic Religion

Jai Santoshi Maa paper

Highlights and Lowlights Fall 2014:

Paper 4

Paper 2

Highlights and Lowlights Fall 2013:

Paper 4

Paper 1

Highlights and Lowlights Fall 2012:

Paper 3

Highlights and Lowlights Spring 2012

Paper 3

Highlights and Lowlights, Spring 2011

Paper 3

Paper 2

Highlights and Lowlights, Spring 2010

The second paper

The first paper

Highlights and Lowlights from Fall 2009

The third paper

The second paper.

The first paper.

I've also repaired some of the links below - see how students fared last semester.

Highlights and Lowlights from Summer 2009:

The first paper.

Highlights and Lowlights from Spring 2009:

This contains some of the best and worst writing from last semester. Avoid the mistakes and be inspired by what's good! Don't slavishly copy the best papers though: really good work displays independent thought. As we go through this semester, more will be added.

second paper and the third paper.

The readings we discuss in class are essential for you to follow the course. However, in order to get a good grade, you will have to carry out further reading - the papers are intended to be a test of your research skills. Below are some useful links to help you with your research. I have also put some useful supplementary readings in the library. If you are really adventurous, you might even check a book out of the library!

Useful Links:

There is a lot of useful information on the web, there is also a lot of rubbish - so think carefully about the sources that you use!
Also, remember that you should start by using the sources that I have compiled for you in the library. I suggest that you read through the information that's available there, then ask yourself what further information you need to help with your paper, and see whether it is available on the web.
A final warning: Do not plagiarize! (If in doubt, read the notes on plagiarism!) Keep track of what sources from the web you use, and always give proper citations. Be careful about cutting and pasting material into your paper.

Is Buddhism an Atheistic Religion?

Is Buddhism an Atheistic Religion? For this paper, I have prepared a guide to topics you should consider and sources you can use.

General Religion Resources:

Virtual Religion Index

Goddesses in Hinduism:

Introducing Devi
produced by the Smithsonian to accompany an exhibition. A basic introduction - good place to start if you're finding the whole topic confusing.

Essay on Kali from Exotic Indian Art Site. Good discussion of iconography.

Kali in California Hinduism is a world-religion, well established outside India.

Cooking for the Gods Another exhibition web-site, this one from the University of Pennsylvania.

Indus Valley This is by far the best web-site I know for the Indus Valley - the next best thing to organising a field-trip.

Devotional Web-Site intended for the glorification of the Divine Mother. A glimpse into contemporary goddess worship.

For the position of women in Hinduism, one important source is the Laws of Manu, which also explains the roles of the 4 varnas, and the asrama system.

Complete text of Devi Mahatmya, important primary source for goddess worship.

Christianity and Judaism:

The New Testament Gateway. The best place to start looking for information on the New Testament.

The Five Gospel Parallels.         When studying the Gospels, particularly the Synoptics, its essential that
                                                you check parallel passages in the other Gospels. This web-site also
                                               includes parallel passages from Thomas.

Into His Own
               Collection of primary source material relevent to early Christianity and Judaism. 
                                     Highly recommended!

Jewish History Resources Center   Access to materials (primary and secondary) concerning Judaism in the era of the Second Temple. Remember, your paper must examine the history of Judaism during this period, as well as the origins of Christianity. Highly recommended!

All in one Biblical Resources Search.   General resource for Biblical studies.

I have now up-dated the sources in the library. The folder contains a selection of secondary source material. Also, there are some useful books on reserve in the library: Harris, The New Testament: A Student's Introduction; Schiffman, From Text To Tradition; Theissen and Merz, The Historical Jesus, A Comprehensive Guide and Barton and Muddiman (eds.) The Oxford One Volume Bible Commentary.

For primary sources, you should use the two highly recommended web-sites above. Some of your primary source material will be Biblical. A good Bible commentary, such as the one edited by Barton and Muddiman, goes through every book of the Bible one verse at a time, pointing out the kind of information that you need in order to understand the passages in their original context. So, when you've chosen the passages you want to use, you might check what the commentary says. Please note that Barton and Muddiman are the editors, but each section has a different author  - for example, the commentary on Luke's Gospel is written by Eric Franklin. You include Barton and Muddiman in a citation, because anyone looking for the book needs to know the name of the editors, but if you are referring to a passage, you should mention the author of that particular section.

Another useful source available on request in the library is the DVD Jesus: The Complete Story. The main advisor for this documentary was Tom Wright, an Anglican clergyman who is now the Bishop of Durham, who has written a series of highly influential studies of the historical Jesus. Treat the video as you would any other secondary source material; it is useful, but some of the claims are contentious.

Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism

Dao De Jing:

Analects of Confucius

Chuang Tzu

Platform Sutra

Early Chinese Buddhism Re-Examined by Heinrich Dumoulin. A supplement to his book on Zen Buddhism (which is available in our library). I can't put up a link directly to this article, but you can access it through JSTOR, using EZ-Proxy. The article is in the Journal of Japanese Religious Studies, 1993.

Hui Neng vs. Shen Hsiu: what really happened?


Osama bin Laden and Muslim tradition on warfare article by John Kelsay. John Kelsay is the head of FSU's department of Religious Studies. He is also an expert on Islam and warfare: his book is available in the bookstore, an extract is on file. In this brief article he responds to 911.

The Quran, the Hadith and the Prophet Muhammad This site has links to some excellent primary and secondary sources.

Final Exam,

The first section of the final exam, worth 50%, will consist of 30 multiple choice questions, based on the sections of the text-book you studied for the quizzes.
The second section will consist of a series of essays, of which you will answer one. The essays will be similar to the questions "For Further Reflection" at the end of each chapter of the text-book. Some of these essays will give you a chance to compare two different religions, others will give you a chance to discuss the way one particular religion has changed over time.


How similar were the lives and teachings of Jesus and Confucius?

How do the differences between Buddhism and Islam reflect the different conditions in which these religions originated?

Explain the changes in authority structures in Judaism from the time of the patriarchs to the dawn of the rabbinic era.

Does the Dao De Jing have any useful lessons for today's world?

Compare and contrast the political agendas of Confucius and Muhammad.

Explain the relationship between Hinduism and Buddhism.

Is Hinduism a single religion, or a family of related religions?

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