religious traditions 1

Assessment Instructions

Select two of the major world religious traditions. Summarize the key features of each and contrast them with each other and with the Greek philosophical tradition. Write a report in which you consider the following:

  • What sensations, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors are expressed in religious rituals?
  • How have religious traditions survived from their historical origins to the present day?
  • What social and cultural differences make it difficult for people from distinct traditions to relate to each other productively?
  • What power do these approaches have to transform individual lives?

Your report may well include reflection on the role of religious traditions in your own life, but develop your analysis of the issues independently of your own convictions.

Additional Requirements

  • Written communication: Should be free of errors that detract from the overall message.
  • APA formatting: Your paper should be formatted according to APA (6th edition) style and formatting.
  • Length: 4 pages typed and double-spaced pages.
  • Font and font size: Times New Roman, 12 point.


Write a 4-page analysis of key features of two of the major world religious traditions.

This assessment allows you to demonstrate your ability to summarize, contrast, and evaluate historical and contemporary elements of world religions.

By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies and assessment criteria:

  • Competency 1: Describe the historical development of the humanities from the pre-historic era to the present.
    • Describe the historical origins of selected religious traditions.
    • Explain how selected religious traditions continue to influence contemporary life.
  • Competency 2: Examine the forms of expression that instantiate the arts and humanities.
    • Assess the role of ritual in expressing religious traditions.
  • Competency 3: Integrate the humanities with everyday life.
    • Explain the transformative role of religious values in personal and professional life.
  • Competency 4: Communicate effectively in forms appropriate to the humanities.
    • Write coherently to support a central idea in appropriate format with correct grammar, usage, and mechanics.


    Religious traditions are a significant part of any study of the humanities. The Assessment 2 Context document provides a brief overview of some of the major world religious traditions. You may wish to review this document for key concepts and ideas related to this topic.



    Like philosophy, religion deals with vital questions about human experience and the guidance of conduct, but its methods and appeals are typically quite different:

    • Use of revelation instead of reason as a source of evidence.
    • Focus on the sacred in distinction from the worldly.
    • Reverence for the supernatural instead of concern with natural explanation.
    • Appeal to emotional feelings through ritual reenactment.
    • Preservation of long-term convictions with little allowance for doubt or change.
    • Community emphasized more greatly than individual thought.

    Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam are four of the world’s great religious traditions that have persisted for many centuries.


    Judaism emerged three thousand years ago with the move from Egypt to Canaan of a group of Hebrew tribes led by Moses, who introduced monotheism, or belief in a single deity. For their descendants, political success or failure was understood as divine reward or punishment. In the centuries that followed, the civilization grew more organized and gradually developed an extensive literature, written scriptures that were interpreted, communicated, and enforced by generations of rabbinical teachers. Liturgical practice included chants, music, responsive reading, and public prayer. Despite their later absorption into Hellenistic societies and later cultures, the Jews have preserved their tribal and religious identity through successive generations.


    Buddhism arose during the same period in India, from the life and teachings of Siddhārtha Gautama. Years of spiritual searching and meditative practice led him to believe that life involves suffering that can be escaped only by cultivating humility, selflessness, and nonattachment. Variations on Buddhist teachings spread throughout India, Tibet, China, and Japan.


    Christianity combined elements from messianic Judaism, mystery cults, and Hellenistic culture to fashion an ethical faith system that emphasized compassion and forgiveness. Jesus himself was a gifted teacher who enriched and expanded traditional concepts from scripture but attracted crowds whose instability threatened authorities from the Roman Empire. After his death, the apostle Paul developed a theology of sin and redemption, expressed in writings that soon became the core of Christian scriptures, known as the “New Testament.” Eventually, the movement was accepted by the Roman Empire and became an official part of culture in Western life. Its worship incorporated Jewish elements along with the ritual celebration of Jesus’s death through the Eucharist.


    Islam was founded by an Arab merchant named Muhammad who saw himself as the fulfillment of a tradition ranging from Abraham through Moses and Jesus to his own conception of the relationship between the community and the one God, Allah. The recitation of his teachings, recorded in the Qur’an, was shared with other people throughout the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and much of the world. During several centuries of stagnation in the West, Islamic scholars preserved, communicated, and extrapolated from the classical period’s achievements in philosophy, science, and medicine.

  • Questions to Consider

    To deepen your understanding, you are encouraged to consider the questions below and discuss them with a fellow learner, a work associate, an interested friend, or a member of the business community.

    • Western philosophical traditions and the Abrahamic religions take very different approaches to the resolution of significant life questions. Greek and Roman philosophers sought rational explanations for natural phenomena, while religious thinkers proposed supernatural accounts based on revealed principles.
      • Which approach do you believe succeeds better in establishing fundamental truths about the meaning of life?
      • How can we most effectively reconcile the influence of these two approaches in our own lives?
    • Consider the structure of social and personal life during the Middle Ages.
      • How did the persistence of institutions like the Church pervade the lives of ordinary individuals? In what ways was this both a positive and a negative influence?
      • Do any similar large-scale institutions affect our lives today? What positive and negative impacts do they exert over us, individually and collectively? How might we establish control over our own lives in spite of these broader influences?

    Library Resources

    The following e-books or articles from the Capella University Library are linked directly in this course:

    Course Library Guide

    A Capella University library guide has been created specifically for your use in this course. You are encouraged to refer to the resources in the HUM-FP1000 – Introduction to Humanities Library Guide to help direct your research.

    Bookstore Resources

    The resource listed below is relevant to the topics and assessments in this course. Unless noted otherwise, this material is available for purchase from the Capella University Bookstore. When searching the bookstore, be sure to look for the Course ID with the specific –FP (FlexPath) course designation.

    • Fiero, G. K. (2016). Landmarks in humanities (4th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
      • Chapters 4–6.

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