Early Eastern Origins of Western Law and Western Civilization by Robin Bradley Kar



Kar on the Early Eastern Origins of Western Law and Western Civilization
Posted by Mary L. Dudziak
Robin Bradley Kar, University of Illinois College of Law, has posted on SSRN a three-part study:  On the Early Eastern Origins of Western Law and Western Civilization: New Arguments for a Changed Understanding of Our Legal and Cultural Origins.   Here’s the abstract:
Western law and Western civilization are often said to be parts of a distinctive tradition, which differentiates them from their counterparts in the “East” and explains many of their special capacities and characteristics. One common version of this story, as propounded by the influential legal scholar Harold Berman, asserts that Western civilization (including its incipient legal traditions) began in the 11th century AD with a return to the texts of three more primordial traditions: those of ancient Greece, Rome, and Israel. The basic story that Western civilization finds its origins in ancient Greek, Roman, and Hebrew culture is, however, so familiar and so pervasive that it has rarely — until recently — been questioned in the West.

This Article develops a novel set of arguments, rooted in recent findings from a broad range of cognate fields, to suggest that this standard story is nevertheless incomplete and even potentially misleading. If we are genuinely interested in understanding our origins in a way that will shed light on why the West has exhibited such distinctive capacities for large-scale human civilization and the rule of law, then the story we commonly tell ourselves starts abruptly in the middle and leaves out some of the most formative (and potentially transformative) dimensions of the truth. Western law and Western civilization are not just the outgrowths of three particularly creative cultures, which straddled the transition from human prehistory into human history and developed in either Southeastern Europe or the Near East. Rather, the West appears to be descended from a much deeper cultural tradition, which extends all the way back to some of our first human forays out of hunter-gatherer modes of subsistence and into settled agricultural living. The tradition in question began not in Greece, Rome, or Israel, however, but rather in and around the Indus Valley — which is a region that spans the Northwestern portions of the Indian subcontinent.

From approximately 4500 BC until approximately 1900 BC — and hence long before the rise of ancient Greece, Rome or Israel — the Indus Valley region gave rise to one of the very first large scale civilizations in our natural history as a species: the so-called “Harappan” Civilization. This civilization was also part of a much larger and highly integrated social complex, with strong ties to ancient Bactria and the eastern parts of modern day Iran. (Because this region does not correspond to contemporary political boundaries, I call it the “Eastern-Iran-Bactria-Indus-Valley” Region.) In this Article, I argue that this ancient socio-cultural complex is most likely the actual source of a range of important Western traditions. Through an unbroken chain of cultural transmission that has operated through an immense number of generations, we have likely inherited an important set of traditions from this ancient socio-cultural complex, which have specially equipped us to produce and sustain large-scale civilizations with the rule of law. If this is true, then our failure to understand our deep genealogical relationship to this ancient socio-cultural complex has limited our self-understanding in critical respects. It has also prevented us from realizing useful aspects of our traditions — including, in some cases, those aspects that make our current traditions in the West so capable of supporting large-scale human civilizations with the rule of law.

We live in an era in which it is, moreover, especially important to decipher the deepest origins of Western law and civilization. Scholars within the emerging “legal origins” tradition (e.g., Rafael La Porta, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes, Andrei Shleifer, and Robert Vishny) have now produced an impressive body of empirical work, which suggests that we can explain a broad range of features of modern societies in terms of the origins of their laws. This literature suggests that legal origin variables can have strong effects on issues as diverse as corporate governance structure, labor regulations, the robustness of capital markets, and even literacy and infant mortality rates.

The present Article argues that this literature may nevertheless be working with legal origin variables that fail to track our deepest and most genuine lines of relevant descent. After developing a special methodology to discern the relevant genealogical facts, I use this methodology to propose a new (and fundamentally changed) account of the most plausible phylogenetic structure of the Indo-European legal family (including the socio-cultural traditions needed to support legal systems, along with the special psychological attitudes that animate these traditions). This novel account traces many of the most important developments of this family of traditions deep into human prehistory. A proper understanding of this new family tree should have important empirical implications: this work can, for example, be used to help explain why certain exportations of Western-style legal institutions have worked so well while others have not. Inquiries of this kind should have special urgency today, given the massive exportations of Western law and Western legal institutions to so many other parts of the world and given the increased pressures toward westernization that are being felt around the globe.

The origins story that I develop in this Article should, however, also have broader implications for a much wider range of cognate fields, which have typically presumed a primarily Greco-Roman or Judeo-Christian origin for key developments in the West. The revised origins story that I will be telling should therefore be of more general human concern.

You can download part 1, part 2, and part 3.

The Story of U.S.

Protestant Reformation

1607-Founding of Jamestown and Charter of the Virginia (London) Company

1620-Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower Compact

1676-Bacon’s Rebellion; King Philip’s War; and Declaration of the People of Virginia and Bacon’s Manifesto

1765-Stamp Act Crisis; Stamp Act passed by Parliament; formation of Stamp Act Congress and Committees of Correspondence

1776-Declaration of Independence

1777-Articles of Confederation


1789-Bill of Rights

In the Beginning there was a boatful of people who were in search of a better way of life and a new way of government. Some were adventurers out to make money. Others were in search of freedom to practice their religion. In the year 1607 this boat full of people arrived at a place that they named Jamestown after their King. They ran into American Indians and learned things from them. Ships returned to England for provisions for the colony. The settlers and colonists attempted to coexist. This didn’t end up working. And then the colonists killed them.

Thirteen years later in a new location up north another boat full of people came over. They landed at the wrong place; they went off course and did not reach Virginia. Instead they landed at Cape Cod.  The settlers had to make rules to govern themselves so there wasn’t craziness. The settlers devised the Mayflower Compact to keep order in the colony. The Separatists were trying to run the colony under very strict religious rules. Adventurers did not care about religion. Many settlers didn’t survive the first winter. The Indians in the area helped them plant food so that they could survive the next winter. In November a feast was had by all. Part of the settlers were Separatists (Puritans) and part of them were adventurers.

Colonies started up in Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, East and West Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, etc.

Governor Andros was sent to rule over the Dominion of New England, which did away with charters in New England. There was a Glorious Revolution in England in 1688. Connecticut refused to hand over its charter and hid it in an oak tree. Some witches in Massachusetts were killed.

George I became King of England. He was a German dude, and he became king because he was related to the Stuart royal family.

Colonists influence by the Enlightenment felt they were not truly free under the British government. Little by little England started to intervene and the  settlers started to feel constricted.

Expansion from the British and the French brought conflict which involved local Indian tribes. Some Indians fought with the British, some with the French, so it was called the French and Indian War. Colonists fought on the side of the British and helped the British defeat the French with militias. Britain obtained a large debt as a result of the war and passed the cost along to the colonists in the form of the Stamp Act.

There was a massacre of Bostonians. Five people were killed by British soldiers. Some British soldiers got black eyes.  The Bostonians had a Tea Party after the Massacre. The British were upset they were not invited. More taxation was placed on the colonists without representation in Parliament!

A few good men got together in Philadephia and signed a piece of paper. This piece of paper declared independence from Britain. As a result, British troops arrived in the colonies. Eventually they sent the idiot, General Burgoyne, who completely failed his mission. It allowed the Continental Army to regroup, which changed the tide of war and led to Victory in Yorktown, Virginia!

And everyone was free and equal except blacks, minorities and women.

And they lived happily ever after.

Religion, Science, and Economics in the Contemporary World.

Matt Banever suggested we take a look at this discussion with an astrophysicist, Neil Degrasse Tyson, who advocates for the need to continue space exploration. Isaac Kramnick, in The Portable Enlightenment Reader  wrote, “If religion was the principle villain of the Enlightenment, science was its hero.”

Fareed Zakaria GPS: Neil Degrasse Tyson makes case for space

Dr. Tyson uses an economic argument to advocate for the necessity of scientific exploration and discovery. The philosophes of the Enlightenment needed no such justification, but they didn’t reject the economic motive either. Rene Descartes, the great mathematician wrote,

“I knew that the languages which one learns there are necessary to understand the works of the ancients; and that the delicacy of fiction enlivens the mind; that famous deeds of history ennoble it and, if read with understanding, aid in maturing one’s judgment; that the reading of all the great books is like conversing with the best people of earlier times; it is even studied conversation in which the authors show us only the best of their thoughts; that eloquence has incomparable powers and beauties; that poetry has enchanting delicacy and sweetness; that mathematics has very subtle processes which can serve as much to satisfy the inquiring mind as to aid all the arts and diminish man’s labor; that treatises on morals contain very useful teachings and exhortations to virtue; that theology teaches us how to go to heaven; that philosophy teaches us to talk with appearance of truth about things, and to make ourselves admired by the less learned; that law, medicine, and the other sciences bring honors and wealth to those who pursue them; and finally, that it is desirable to have examined all of them, even to the most superstitious and false in order to recognize their real worth and avoid being deceived thereby”
René Descartes, Discours de la Methode pour Bien Conduire sa Raison & Chercher la Verité dans les Sciences plus La Dioptrique et Les Meteores qui Sont des Essais de Cete Methode


Was religion the enemy of science during the Enlightenment? Descartes also provides us with his own observations:

“Before examining this more carefully and investigating its consequences, I want to dwell for a moment in the contemplation of God, to ponder His attributes in me, to see, admire, and adore the beauty of His boundless light, insofar as my clouded insight allows. Believing that the supreme happiness of the other life consists wholly of the contemplation of divine greatness, I now find that through less perfect contemplation of the same sort I can gain the greatest joy available in this life.”
René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy


Thomas Jay Oord offered a long and thoughtful commentary on the current relationship between American evangelical Christians and science. You can read it in its entirety on his blog. But Oord admits, “I’m optimistic about the future of the Evangelical theology and science dialogue. But I’m not naïve to think that the dialogue will flow with ease into every Evangelical nook and cranny. Plenty of warfare has occurred and will occur.”

Will America revert to a position that science cannot be reconciled to Christianity?

Four Big Myths of the Book of Revelation by John Blake

March 31st, 2012

4 big myths of Book of Revelation

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) – The anti-Christ. The Battle of Armageddon. The dreaded Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

You don’t have to be a student of religion to recognize references from the Book of Revelation. The last book in the Bible has fascinated readers for centuries. People who don’t even follow religion are nonetheless familiar with figures and images from Revelation.

And why not? No other New Testament book reads like Revelation. The book virtually drips with blood and reeks of sulfur. At the center of this final battle between good and evil is an action-hero-like Jesus, who is in no mood to turn the other cheek.

Elaine Pagels, one of the world’s leading biblical scholars, first read Revelation as a teenager. She read it again in writing her latest book, Revelations: Visions, Prophecy & Politics in the Book of Revelation.

Pagels’ book is built around a simple question: What does Revelation mean? Her answers may disturb people who see the book as a prophecy about the end of the world.

But people have clashed over the meaning of Revelation ever since it was virtually forced into the New Testament canon over the protests of some early church leaders, Pagels says.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

“There were always debates about it,” she says. “Some people said a heretic wrote it. Some said a disciple. There were always people who loved and championed it.”

The debate persists. Pagels adds to it by challenging some of the common assumptions about Revelation.

Here are what she says are four big myths about Revelation::

1. It’s about the end of the world

Anyone who has read the popular “Left Behind” novels or listened to pastors preaching about the “rapture” might see Revelation as a blow-by-blow preview of how the world will end.

Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation was actually describing the way his own world ended.

She says the writer of Revelation may have been called John – the book is sometimes called “Book of the Revelation of Saint John the Divine” but he was not the disciple who accompanied Jesus. He was a devout Jew and mystic exiled on the island of Patmos in present-day Turkey.

“He would have been a very simple man in his clothes and dress,” Pagels says. “He may have gone from church to church preaching his message. He seems more like a traveling preacher or a prophet.”

The author of Revelation had experienced a catastrophe. He wrote his book not long after 60,000 Roman soldiers had stormed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., burned down its great temple and left the city in ruins after putting down an armed Jewish revolt.

For some of the earliest Jewish followers of Jesus, the destruction of Jerusalem was incomprehensible. They had expected Jesus to return “with power” and conquer Rome before inaugurating a new age. But Rome had conquered Jesus’ homeland instead.

The author of Revelation was trying to encourage the followers of Jesus at a time when their world seemed doomed. Think of the Winston Churchill radio broadcasts delivered to the British during the darkest days of World War II.

Revelation was an anti-Roman tract and a piece of war propaganda wrapped in one. The message: God would return and destroy the Romans who had destroyed Jerusalem.

“His primary target is Rome,” Pagels says of the book’s author. “He really is deeply angry and grieved at the Jewish war and what happened to his people.”

2. The numerals 666 stand for the devil

The 1976 horror film “The Omen” scared a lot of folks. It may have scared some theologians, too, who began encountering people whose view of Revelation comes from a Hollywood movie.

The Omen” depicted the birth and rise of the “anti-Christ,” the cunning son of Satan who would be known by “the mark of the beast,” 666, on his body.

Here’s the passage from Revelation that “The Omen” alluded to: “This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.”

Good movies, though, don’t always make good theology. Most people think 666 stands for an anti-Christ-like figure that will deceive humanity and trigger a final battle between good and evil. Some people think he’s already here.

Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation didn’t really intend 666 as the devil’s digits. He was describing another incarnation of evil: The Roman emperor, Nero.

The arrogant and demented Nero was particularly despised by the earliest followers of Jesus, including the writer of Revelation. Nero was said to have burned followers of Jesus alive to illuminate his garden.

But the author of Revelation couldn’t safely name Nero, so he used the Jewish numerology system to spell out Nero’s imperial name, Pagels says.

Pagels says that John may have had in mind other meanings for the mark of the beast: the imperial stamp Romans used on official documents, tattoos authorizing people to engage in Roman business, or the images of Roman emperors on stamps and coins.

Since Revelation’s author writes in “the language of dreams and nightmares,” Pagels says it’s easy for outsiders to misconstrue the book’s original meaning.

Still, they take heart from Revelation’s larger message, she writes:

“…Countless people for thousands of years have been able to see their own conflicts, fears, and hopes reflected in his prophecies. And because he speaks from his convictions about divine justice, many readers have found reassurance in his conviction that there is meaning in history – even when he does not say exactly what that meaning is – and that there is hope.”

3. The writer of Revelation was a Christian

The author of Revelation hated Rome, but he also scorned another group – a group of people we would call Christians today, Pagels says.

There’s a common perception that there was a golden age of Christianity, when most Christians agreed on an uncontaminated version of the faith. Yet there was never one agreed-upon Christianity. There were always clashing visions.

Revelation reflects some of those early clashes in the church, Pagels says.

That idea isn’t new territory for Pagels. She won the National Book Award for “The Gnostic Gospels,” a 1979 book that examined a cache of newly discovered “secret” gospels of Jesus. The book, along with other work from Pagels, argues that there were other accounts of Jesus’ life that were suppressed by early church leaders because it didn’t fit with their agenda.

The author of Revelation was like an activist crusading for traditional values. In his case, he was a devout Jew who saw Jesus as the messiah. But he didn’t like the message that the apostle Paul and other followers of Jesus were preaching.

This new message insisted that gentiles could become followers of Jesus without adopting the requirements of the Torah. It accepted women leaders, and intermarriage with gentiles, Pagels says.

The new message was a lot like what we call Christianity today.

That was too much for the author of Revelation. At one point, he calls a woman leader in an early church community a “Jezebel.” He calls one of those gentile-accepting churches a “synagogue of Satan.”

John was defending a form of Christianity that would be eclipsed by the Christians he attacked, Pagels says.

“What John of Patmos preached would have looked old-fashioned – and simply wrong to Paul’s converts…,” she writes.

The author of Revelation was a follower of Jesus, but he wasn’t what some people would call a Christian today, Pagels says.

“There’s no indication that he read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or that he read the gospels or Paul’s letters,” she says. “….He doesn’t even say Jesus died for your sins.”

4. There is only one Book of Revelation

There’s no other book in the Bible quite like Revelation, but there are plenty of books like Revelation that didn’t make it into the Bible, Pagels says.

Early church leaders suppressed an “astonishing” range of books that claimed to be revelations from apostles such as Peter and James. Many of these books were read and treasured by Christians throughout the Roman Empire, she says.

There was even another “Secret Revelation of John.” In this one, Jesus wasn’t a divine warrior, but someone who first appeared to the apostle Paul as a blazing light, then as a child, an old man and, some scholars say, a woman.

So why did the revelation from John of Patmos make it into the Bible, but not the others?

Pagels traces that decision largely to Bishop Athanasius, a pugnacious church leader who championed Revelation about 360 years after the death of Jesus.

Athanasius was so fiery that during his 46 years as bishop he was deposed and exiled five times. He was primarily responsible for shaping the New Testament while excluding books he labeled as hearsay, Pagels says.

Many church leaders opposed including Revelation in the New Testament. Athanasius’s predecessor said the book was “unintelligible, irrational and false.”

Athanasius, though, saw Revelation as a useful political tool. He transformed it into an attack ad against Christians who questioned him.

Rome was no longer the enemy; those who questioned church authority were the anti-Christs in Athanasius’s reading of Revelation, Pagels says.

“Athanasius interprets Revelation’s cosmic war as a vivid picture of his own crusade against heretics and reads John’s visions as a sharp warning to Christian dissidents,” she writes. “God is about to divide the saved from the damned – which now means dividing the ‘orthodox’ from ‘heretics.’ ’’

Centuries later, Revelation still divides people. Pagels calls it the strangest and most controversial book in the Bible.

Even after writing a book about it, Pagels has hardly mastered its meaning.

“The book is the hardest one in the Bible to understand,” Pagels says. “I don’t think anyone completely understands it.”

See also, Elaine Pagels’ article in The New Yorker on the book of Revelation.

Guest Blog: Michael Biral: Do religious institutions have the right to shape public policy?

Blog post:

Law is taught as something that comes from a concrete set of ideals. In America, we are taught that the Constitution and Bill of Rights were heavily influenced by the enlightenment. Our system of government was influenced by the ancient Greeks and Romans. What seems to be missing is the explanation of the myths behind our laws. I believe the big idea of this course so far has been to point out that our system of law has been influenced not only by the things we can see (prior laws, thinkers, etc) but also by the things we cannot see such as religion and mythology, without these we would not have our laws. Without Myths, we would not have laws.

I feel that the Robert Cover article expands on this idea. Cover argues that the courts should take the perspective of Roger Williams when dealing with issues of religion. The state should stay out of religious matters to protect religion. This contrasts with the Jeffersonian model of religious freedom, that enacts a wall of separation between church and state. While Cover makes a compelling argument for the freedom of religion from state intrusion. it does raise some questions. Do “Antinomians” have to accept state law if they are receiving funding from the state? No one should dispute religious orders to abide by their own laws when they are living in separate communities; however, does this give religious groups the right to ignore civil rights legislation such as was the case with Bob Jones University? Cover was writing this piece at a time before social issues such as gay marriage and gay rights became hot button issues, but the article raises the question to me that, do religious organizations whom believe these acts to be immoral have the right to shape policy that will in essence make their laws, laws of the land? Is one thing for a religious group to be asked to live out their religious beliefs, but what would Cover say to those groups that try to impose their religious law on others that do not share their religious beliefs? Would those groups argue that the laws they disagree with are not valid because they ignore the nomos and narrative of religion and myth?

From the Daily Mail: News on the Mind and the Alphabet

Why just typing ‘LOL’ makes you happy: People like words made of letters from the right-hand side of the QWERTY keyboard
UPDATED: 09:11 EST, 8 March 2012

The QWERTY keyboard is shaping how we react to words, say scientists – the effect might be caused by the fact that it’s slightly easier to type with the right hand, as there are fewer letters for touch-typists on the right-hand side of the keyboard
Many workers spend hours a day in front of a QWERTY keyboard on a PC – now scientists have found that the keyboard itself is shaping how we react to words.
Oddly, people tend to react more positively to words filled with letters from the right-hand side of a QWERTY keyboard.
Words from the left side make people feel negative emotions.
Taking a rather unscientific sample, it does seem to make sense – ‘Pool’ is filled with right-side letters, whereas ‘tax’ is all left-side.
The effect seems to come from the keyboard itself – and is dubbed ‘the QWERTY effect’.
The cognitive scientists think that the effect might be caused by the fact that it’s slightly easier to type with the right hand, as there are fewer letters for touch-typists on the right-hand side of the keyboard.
Scientists tested how people reacted using a mix of real words, new words such as ‘LOL’ and even made-up words such as ‘Pleek’.
They found that their volunteers tended to rate ALL words more positively if they came from the right-hand side of the keyboard – but the effect was particularly pronounced with computer-era words such as ‘LOL’.

Notice anything odd? The silly signs that don’t quite get the message across
Words such as ‘LOL’, coined after language ‘shifted’ to the world of keyboards, are particularly vulnerable to the keyboard effect.
LOL is rarely spoken, and mostly typed.

Words with many ‘left side’ letters evoke negative emotions – and words with right side evoke positive feelings, in this slightly unscientific sample

‘When people type words composed of more right-side letters, they have more positive feelings, and when they type words composed of more left-side letters, they have more negative feelings,’ say cognitive scientists Kyle Jasmin of University College London and Daniel Casasanto of The New School for Social Research, New York.
‘People responsible for naming new products, brands, and companies might do well to consider the potential advantages of consulting their keyboards and choosing the ‘right’ name,’ say the researchers.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2111976/Why-tax-makes-unhappy-Scientists-words-left-hand-QWERTY-keyboard-make-people-sad.html#ixzz1oj0fvoXJ

Guest Blog: Sahar Khan, “Born to Resist Injustice”

The ideas discussed in class have incited me to view society with a different outlook. Society is now an intelligent mass that constructs the world. Evidence lies in the timeline project where people throughout time have been participating in acts that may have affected our customs today.  The Time line project introduced me to the idea of picking out important worldly occurrences that have had impact on our interaction with the law.  The project also led to me to ask, “To what extent global events impact me right now? Do these legal processes have to take place at a national level to influence people or can it be local? Can just one person’s action mold our lives in some way?” For example the act of one Tunisian man (Muhammad Bouzizi) giving up his life had empowered nations to over throw their corrupt rulers of years. Not only was this an international occurrence but the revolutionary spirit empowered the people of Wisconsin too. Though the bodies of these movements share a different nomos—it seems as if we all share a similar human characteristic of justice—as if we are innately born to resist injustice.

We may share a different nomos but then how come we humans are so alike in some respects? A normative universe evolves with time; the implementations of practices are dependent on time and the people’s acceptance of them. The nomos is the normative universe that is encircling us with our experiences, beliefs and culture etc.; and these factors will impact our everyday decisions (law making processes). For instance an act of destructing a Temple had led religious leaders to change their old philosophy to better survive, in a different time among a changed society. They first understood that the philosophy of the world stands upon the Torah, temple worship and deeds of kindness. This ideal was upheld when the Temple stood tall but in its destruction the world now stood on justice truth and peace. It was understood that in order for their belief system to survive it was necessary to uncover the basic fundamentals of the old message in to three new Jewish principles that would easily interact with a changed society.

Another example of evolutionary law is the Inheritance rights of women in early Salic law and the later legal system. At a time when property amassed to wealth and power, women could not acclaim any land if they had brothers. After many years Salic law was given no precedence. But in the 14th century French nobles had revived the Salic law of inheritance which led to a dispute among two possible heirs.  One heir claimed to be the rightful monarch but because his blood line came from a woman, he was given no right to succession. This shows the evolutionary dynamics of law. A group of French nobles could basically implement and modify an old law only because it held some sort of historical value to the people.

In essences we learn the relationship between society and law and most inspiring is to know that we the common people are the true implementers of law—as we practice and abide. But if we seek to change, there is no doubt we can’t.

The Middle Ages, Renaissances and Early Modern World

[Note: Syllabus change: You will have the reading/writing day on March 8 instead of March 15. For this week’s blog, you will comment on March 6 and the new March 13 reading. The 15th will be our roundtable and no blogging will be due. This will conclude Project 2.]

Mar. 6: Medieval to Modern Dichotomies

            Shlain, 292-322.

Mar. 8: No class. Research/Writing Day

March 13: Rebellion and Reorganization

          Shlain, 323-392.

on two out of the four categories (Second Project):

  • 3 factual errors and where the correct information can be found
  • 3 omissions (things you needed to know to evaluate his argument)
  • 3 areas of logic or reasoning with you agree or disagree and a brief explanation as to why (see instructions for the Second Project, below)
  • 1 book or article on the week’s topic written after 1990 that he could have cited in his bibliography but did not.

Shlain’s Thesis, third part: Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Feb. 28: Western Monotheism: Judaism and Christianity

Shlain, 202-260.

Mar. 1: Islam

Shlain, 261-291.

These three religious traditions make up the backbone of western religious culture, but why? What about them made these religions dominate western thought and culture, according to Shlain. How intertwined were they with one another?

  • 3 factual errors and where the correct information can be found
  • 3 omissions (things you needed to know to evaluate his argument)
  • 3 areas of logic or reasoning with you agree or disagree and a brief explanation as to why (see instructions for the Second Project, below)
  • 1 book or article on the week’s topic written after 1990 that he could have cited in his bibliography but did not.