SOR1 - All Preliminary Content

MODULE 1 – The Nature of Religion and Belief Systems

OverviewStudents learn about religion as a worldview that acknowledges the supernatural dimension and has a belief in a divine being or powers beyond the human and/or dwelling within the individual
Key Questions:


  • What is a worldview?
  • What is an example of a religious worldview?

  • Religion is composed of beliefs and practises that provide meaning and purposes to adherents.
    • Transcends their world and limitations
  • Achieved through religion having a worldview - the way in which a society views the world. In religion, the worldview is determined by the principal beliefs of the religion
  • Society determines the way which someone views the world - provides a set of cultural assumptions that culminate in the forming of a worldview
  • Worldview = perception/conception of the world. Consists of meaning, purpose, belonging and identity
  • Religions have their own worldviews
    • Buddhism - sees time as a cycle and the world is one part of that cycle
    • Christianity, Judaism & Islam - see time as linear (has a beginning and an end
Summary :A worldview refers to the way in which a particular group of people or an individual views the world. The four elements of a worldview are meaning, purpose, belonging and identity. Religions have their own worldview - they tell adherents how they should view the world.


Supernatural DimensionStudents learn to define the supernatural dimension
Key Questions:


  • What is the supernatural dimension?
  • What is an example of a supernatural dimension?

  • Most religions have a supernatural dimension which forms part of the religious worldview.
  • Refers to the existence of a being or powers beyond the natural world or the world of humans
    • Has powers and abilities that exceed those of humans
  • For example, in Christianity and Judaism, God is beyond the human capabilities of the mundane. Therefore, He is the supernatural dimension
Summary :A supernatural dimension refers to a power or being that is beyond human limitation and comprehension. Most religions have a supernatural dimension, such as Christianity, whose supernatural dimension is the existence of God in the Trinity.


Religious WorldviewsStudents learn to discuss a transcendent religious worldview which has belief in a divine power and/or powers beyond the human and discuss an immanent religious worldview which has a belief in divine being of powers dwelling within the individual
Key Questions:


  • What is a transcendent religious worldview?
  • What is an example of a religion that has a transcendent worldview?
  • What is an immanent religious worldview?
  • What is an example of a religion that has an immanent worldview?
  • How can religions contain both transcendent and immanent elements?



<span style="text-decoration:underline;">Transcendent Religious Worldview</span>
  • Beliefs in divine powers that exceed human limitations - the deity or the supernatural dimension is not on Earth, but beyond or above it
  • Adherents turn to the divine and beyond the physical world as a way to escape the concerns of the material world
  • Adherents, therefore, are able to focus their attention on heavenly matters, rather than the physical concerns of the natural world

    <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Immanent Religious Worldview</span>
    • The divine powers and being are present within the natural world, or within humans themselves.
      • Especially made evident through adherents' daily activities and actions
    • The God or gods are present within, rather than above or beyond, the natural world. Adherents use each other or other aspects of the world to express their spirituality

      <span style="text-decoration:underline;">A Combination of Immanent and Transcendent Elements</span>
      • Religions may have both religious and transcendent elements, or the whole religion can be firmly either transcendent or immanent
      • For example, the different aspects of the religion may be either transcendent or immanent, or the God can exist in several forms, some of which are transcendent and some are immanent
      • EG - CHRISTIANITY: the transcendent God, who can not be seen or held by humans, sent His only Son who was the immanent Him on the Earth.
      • EG - JUDAISM: the transcendent God was incomprehensible to adherents, however, He held close relationships with Abraham and Moses, showing elements of immanence
Summary :Religious worldviews can be further divided into transcendent and immanent. A transcendent worldview refers to one in which the supernatural being is beyond the human world, an example of which is the Jewish God. An immanent religious worldview refers to the presence of the supernatural being in or within the world, an example is Jesus Christ, who walked the world. Religions may contain both transcendent and immanent elements.
OverviewStudents learn about the characteristics of religion: beliefs and believers, sacred texts and writings, ethics, rituals and ceremonies
Key Questions:


  • What are the four characteristics of religion?

  • Religions provide a source of meaning to explain the uncertainties of reality
  • They do this through four main characteristics: beliefs & believers, sacred texts & writings, ethics and rituals & ceremonies
Summary :Religion provides a sense of meaning and identity to adherents through the four elements of beliefs & believers, sacred texts & writings, ethics and rituals & ceremonies.


Beliefs and BelieversStudents learn to define the characteristics of religion
Key Questions:


  • What is a belief?
  • What is a believer?
  • What is an example of a religious belief and believer?

  • Beliefs refer to the acceptance of something that exist, or, in the case of religion, refer to the attitudes towards mythological, supernatural, or spiritual aspects of a religion
  • Believers refer to the adherents of the particular religion, who follow these beliefs
  • Beliefs and believers ensure that the faith is sustained and continues to propagate itself
  • Christianity's beliefs include the Holy Trinity, the Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ and the divine inspiration of the Bible
  • Judaism's beliefs include the belief in one God and the covenant between Abraham and God
Summary :Beliefs refer to the acceptance of something that exists and believers are those who abide by these beliefs. Christianity's beliefs include the Trinity and Jesus Christ, while Judaism's beliefs include the Covenant and the existence of the sole God.


Sacred Texts and WritingsStudents learn to define the characteristics of religion
Key Questions:


  • What is a sacred text?
  • What is the purpose of a sacred text?
  • What are examples of religious sacred texts?

  • All religions have a body of oral or written text, or both, that provide the foundation for the beliefs, ethics and rituals of the religion.
    • The book is predominantly a guide for adherents to apply the teachings of the religion to their own lives
  • Christianity has sacred texts (Bible) that communicate God's will and teachings to His people on Earth.
    • Reading the text allows adherents to know God and His will
  • Sacred texts maintain the integrity of the principal beliefs of the religion
  • Christianity's sacred text, the Bible, contains the Old and New Testaments.
    • Contains psalms, parables (e.g. Good Samaritan - Luke 10:25-37), recounts of Jesus' life, creation story (Genesis 1)
  • Judaism's sacred text (Tanakh), contains 3 main sections - Torah, Nevi'im and Ketuvim.
    • Contains poetry, creation, stories, laws and commandments
Summary :Sacred texts can be either oral or written and provide the foundation for beliefs and ethics of a religion, guiding adherents and maintaining the principal beliefs. Christianity's sacred texts comprise of the Bible, while Judaism's sacred texts include the Tanakh


EthicsStudents learn to define the characteristics of religion
Key Questions:


  • What are ethics?
  • What is the purpose of ethics?
  • What are some examples of religious ethics?

  • A set of moral principles that dictate the lives of adherents, providing a guide as to right and wrong
    • Shows adherents what to do and what to refrain from doing
  • Provide direction and clarification to adherents who apply them
  • Christianity's ethics include
    • Acts - guide to the way Christians should behave in society
    • 10 Commandments: Exodus 20
    • Jesus' Commandment of Love: Matthew 22:37-40
    • Beatitudes: Matthew 5: 1-12
Summary :Ethics refer to the guide that informs adherents of how to live their lives in a manner according to the principal beliefs of the religion. Christianity's ethics include the 10 Commandments, Jesus' Commandment of Love and the Beatitudes.


Rituals and CeremoniesStudents learn to define the characteristics of religion
Key Questions:


  • What is a ritual, what is a ceremony?
  • What is the purpose of rituals and ceremonies?
  • What are examples of religious rituals/ceremonies?

  • Refer to a set of actions or gestures, performed in a given order, that reflect beliefs, texts or events recorded in a religion's sacred texts
    • Linked to superhuman beings or events. EG - CHRISTIANITY: make God present in the world
  • Christianity's rituals and ceremonies include mass, the Eucharist and the 7 sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Holy Orders, Anointing of the Sick, Marriage, Reconciliation)
  • Judaism's rituals and ceremonies include Shabbat (weekly meal starting on rest day) and synagogue and prayer (which draw adherents closer to their communities)
Summary :A ritual or ceremony refers to a system of gestures or actions performed in a particular manner that link adherents to their supreme beings in a physical way. Christianity's rituals include sacraments and the mass, while Judaism's rituals include the Shabbat and the Passover.


A Dynamic, Living ReligionStudents learn to explore the ways in which these characteristics interact to create a dynamic, living religion
Key Questions:


  • What is a dynamic, living religious tradition?
  • What is the importance of having a dynamic, living religious tradition?
  • How do the characteristics of religion interact to form a dynamic, living religion?

  • In order for a religion to remain relevant and sustain itself, it must constantly refresh the four characteristics that comprise the religion itself.
    • If it fails to do this, the religion loses relevance in a modern world and stagnates
  • Dynamic, living religions are ones that stimulate change and constantly refresh themselves, in order to remain immersed in mundane activities and society
  • Through the interactions between the four characteristics of religion, the Faith remains relevant to adherents and society. As a result, the characteristics are interdependent when forming the dynamic religion
  • For example, believers read sacred texts to formulate their own interpretation of the religion. The sacred texts also inform ethical teachings and rituals and ceremonies, which believers use to express their Faith
  • As adherents develop over time, their interpretation of the sacred texts change due to outside influences and personal preference, causing the beliefs and ethics formulated from them to vary between years.
Summary :A dynamic, living religion refers to a religion which constantly refreshes itself to engage and maintain contemporary adherents. These religions are immersed in daily activity and can survive the test of time. While the beliefs and ethics of a religion rarely change, the interpretation of them done through the adherents does, forming a religion that constantly refreshes itself to suit modern need.
OverviewStudents learn to appreciate the contribution of religion to individuals, society and culture
Key Questions:


  • What is the purpose of religion?
  • What are the five enduring questions of human existence?

  • Religions seek to provide meaning to adherents by containing an understanding of a being that is greater than the human person. Religion helps to understand difficult concepts of mundane existence
  • Religions answer the 5 enduring questions of humanity
    • Who am I
    • What is my purpose?
    • Is there a supreme being?
    • Why is there pain and suffering?
    • Is there life after death?
Summary :Religions provide a sense of meaning and purpose to adherents through answering the five enduring questions of human existence - who am I, what is my purpose, is there a supreme being, why is there pain and suffering and is there life after death.


Who am I/What is my PurposeStudents learn to appreciate the contribution of religion to individuals, society and culture
Key Questions:


  • What does the question of who am I/what is my purpose entail?
  • How do religions provide an answer to this question?

  • Adherents consider their meaning and purpose of their earthly life through asking themselves these questions
  • Adherents of a religion will often find their identity through aligning themselves with their supreme being, seeking to emulate their actions and beliefs
    • Guided by moral precepts and ethics of the religious tradition
  • EG - CHRISTIANITY - adherents walk the Earth in order to carry out God's will and perfect plan for humanity. All people are loved by God and should seek to love Him as well
Summary :This question leads adherents to consider their true meaning in life. Religions answer this question through providing a supreme being that adherents can align themselves and their actions to.


Is There a Supreme BeingStudents learn to appreciate the contribution of religion to individuals, society and culture
Key Questions:


  • What does the question of is there a supreme being entail?
  • How do religions provide an answer to this question?



  • Supreme beings are integral to many religions, affirming the belief in a transcendent world (one that goes beyond the world that humans live on)
  • The existence of a supreme being guides adherents to better themselves, through the enacting of teachings and ethics that the supreme being has created
  • Alfred North Whitehead claims without religious vision "human life is….a bagatelle of transient experience"
  • EG - CHRISTIANITY - the God of Christianity exists in three aspects (Father, Son, Holy Spirit - Trinity) and provides a guide for adherents to follow through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Summary :Most religions include a supreme being, which affirms the existence of a transcendent world. Religions answer this question through their belief.


Why is there Pain & SufferingStudents learn to appreciate the contribution of religion to individuals, society and culture
Key Questions:


  • What does the question of why is there pain and suffering entail?
  • How do religions provide an answer to this question?

  • Suffering refers to pain which is caused by the presence of evil within the world and the ignorance and neglect that humans demonstrate to each other
  • This has prompted questions regarding the nature of God, human existence, the universe and humanity itself
  • EG - CHRISTIANITY - pain and suffering is caused by the abuse of freedom that God has given the people of the Earth. When freedom is used correctly, great things come from it. However, sin caused by abuse of freedom leads to pain and suffering
    • Redemptive suffering - offering sufferings to Christ as a redeemer of sins
Summary :Humans consider the presence of suffering and pain on earth, and its purpose. Religions answer this question by detailing the nature of God, human existence and the nature of humanity.


Is there Life after DeathStudents learn to appreciate the contribution of religion to individuals, society and culture
Key Questions:


  • What does the question of is there life after death entail?
  • How do religions provide an answer to this question?



  • Death - the ending of human existence. The origins of death, what happens to life after death and rituals concerning death are all present within religions
  • Death is considered to be a pattern of human existence across many religions. This is demonstrated through concepts such as resurrection and reincarnation, which detail the pattern's repetition and continuation
  • Religion aims to provide a deeper meaning of life to adherents by helping them comprehend the mystery of their existence and what happens when they die
  • EG - CHRISTIANITY - after death, human souls go to either heaven or hell, depending on their actions whilst on Earth (Matthew 25:31-46 - Parable of Sheep and Goats "he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.")
Summary :Humans consider what happens to them after their die, tying in with the question of 'what is my purpose in life'. Religions often encompass the belief in the afterlife or what happens as a result of their actions whilst on Earth.


Religion, Human Morality and Society & CultureStudents learn to appreciate the contribution of religion to individuals, society and culture
Key Questions:


  • How does religion influence society and its cultural beliefs?

  • Religion can form basis of laws and common societal practises, through the ethical guidance they provide. They can underpin justice, society and law frameworks
  • Each religion typically has their own moral precept, central to all religious teachings and ethics
    • Christianity - 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you'
    • Judaism - 'what is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man'
    • Other religions have similar teachings, which are central to their dogma
  • Religion is an everchanging force, and therefore provides a mechanism for change within society. Dynamic religions often influence society due to their wide-spread nature in areas of culture, food and dress.
Summary :Religions form the basic understanding of society through formulating ethical and moral systems for humans. The moral precepts that guide religions can often be seen in actions of our world and elements of religion can be seen in law, government and justice systems. Religion can also be used as a catalyst for change, due to their dynamic and widespread nature.
OverviewRecognise the importance of the Dreaming for the life of Aboriginal peoples
Key Questions:


  • What is Aboriginal spirituality?
  • What does metatemporal mean?
  • What is the role of the Dreaming?
  • What is the nature of the Dreaming?

  • Aboriginal spirituality is based on the Dreaming; the centre of Aboriginal life and religion. It details spiritual beliefs of creation and existence
  • The Dreaming is metatemporal - the past, present and future are all intertwined and come together to form the complete, present reality.
    • The Aboriginal people are shaped by their past, present and future
  • The Dreaming concerns all understanding and determines relationships and responsibilities within the Aboriginal clans
  • The Dreaming is not a god, but rather a way of being that is inextricably linked to the land
    • Immanent worldview, as it is part of the land which exists in parallel with the Aboriginal people
Summary :The Dreaming is a truly immanent concept that influences Aboriginal life in all aspects, through the concept of kinship and relationships. It is a metatemporal concept, meaning aspects of the past, present and future combine to form what is known as reality today.


Nature of the DreamingOutline the nature of the Dreaming in relation to the origins of the universe, sacred sites, stories of the Dreaming, symbolism and art
Key Questions:


  • What is the nature of the Dreaming?
  • How does the Dreaming influence the beliefs of Aboriginal people?
  • What is the importance of the Dreaming?

  • An eternal connection between ancestral spirits and the Aboriginal people, detailed through song, stories, art and ceremonies

    • Details the journal of ancestral beings and the connection they hold with the Aboriginal people


      The Dreaming. Source:

Summary :The Dreaming serves as a connection between the Ancestral spirits and the Aboriginal people, communicated in an oral form. As such, the Dreaming justifies existence and provides guidance to adherents on every aspect of their life.


Origins of the UniverseOutline the nature of the Dreaming in relation to the origins of the universe, sacred sites, stories of the Dreaming, symbolism and art
Key Questions:


  • How does the Dreaming relate to the origins of the universe?

  • Dreaming explains how the world came to be - through the ancestral beings. There is no, one universal creation story - every tribe has their own version of creation
  • It is believed the universe already existed, and ancestral spirits began transforming it to create world order.
  • The Dreaming and creation stories explain why things are the way they are, the way in which people should behave and the proceedings of sacred rituals
Summary :The Dreaming explains the creation of the world by the Ancestral Spirits, explaining why things are made the way they are the acceptable behaviour of humans.


Sacred Sites and StoriesOutline the nature of the Dreaming in relation to the origins of the universe, sacred sites, stories of the Dreaming, symbolism and art
Key Questions:


  • What is the significance of sacred sites?
  • Why are some pieces of land considered Sacred?
  • What is an example of an Aboriginal sacred site?
  • What is the relationship between the Dreaming and the lore?

  • All land is sacred to Aboriginal people, however, particular sites hold greater significance to them than others
    • These are called sacred sites - often places where importance events happened or where ancestral beings reside
  • Rituals take place on these sacred sites, as they are believed to be places of sanctity for all Aboriginal people
  • Different Aboriginal groups have different sacred sites, as each site corresponds with an event or happening that occurs during the Dreaming
  • EG - ULURU - Uluru is one of the most famous Aboriginal sacred sites, however, Australian people do not always respect it
    • In a gesture of respect to Aboriginal elders, Uluru will no longer be able to be climbed as of October. However, many people wish for it to remain open for profit
    • Aboriginal leaders, too, are often divided - some are supported financially by tourists and have interests in keeping the rock open. However, respect should be shown to traditional Aboriginal beliefs
  • Dreaming stories, whilst detailing creation, also function as the law (lore) of a particular tribe. They can also formulate an ethical system which is obeyed by all members of a particular tribe
Summary :Whilst all land is sacred to Aboriginal people, places where Ancestral beings reside or places of rituals are especially important and are given the name 'sacred site'. An example of one such site is Uluru. The Dreaming stories provide 'law' for the Aboriginal people - an ethical system obeyed by all people.


KinshipOutline the nature of the Dreaming in relation to the origins of the universe, sacred sites, stories of the Dreaming, symbolism and art
Key Questions:


  • What is kinship?
  • What is the purpose of kinship?
  • What actions are governed by kinship?
  • How is kinship determined?

  • Refers to the system of belonging and relationships within a clan. These relationships detail responsibilities, which form a network of reciprocal obligations
    • Kinship is not only within the family - it is extended to those part of an Aboriginal person's totem as well
  • Kinship ties inform the life of Aboriginal people - it stems from the dreaming, meaning it is to be obeyed, and formulates code of conduct, behaviour and pattern of life
  • Kinship relationships also include the responsibility of passing knowledge down from elder to the younger generation in order to keep all informed of traditional beliefs
  • Transmitting knowledge down from generation to generation allows custodianship of the land, sacred sites and relationships to remain active
Summary :Kinship is shaped by the Dreaming and is a central concept to all Aboriginal people. It dictates a network of reciprocal obligations, inclusive of treatment of land, behaviour and the transmitting of the Dreaming from elder to child. Therefore, kinship dictates all aspects of Aboriginal life and ensures that the spirituality remains alive and refreshed.


Symbolism, Art and DiversityOutline the nature of the Dreaming in relation to the origins of the universe, sacred sites, stories of the Dreaming, symbolism and art and discuss the diversity of the Dreaming for Aboriginal people
Key Questions:


  • How is the Dreaming conveyed?
  • What is the significance of symbolism and art to the Aboriginal people?
  • What is meant by 'country' and 'mother'?

  • Aboriginal art and symbolism is a common way of informing people of the relationships between the people and the law, values, customs, ceremonies and obligations
  • The stories told through symbolism and art are universal for all Aboriginal people - words and education are not needed to understand the rich heritage
  • The music, art, dance and symbolism allows Dreaming and folklore stories to be passed down from elder to the younger generation
  • The passing down of stories is an oral action - one conveyed through symbolism, art and music.
  • The passing down of this knowledge is not written and this is a key part of the spirituality, passing knowledge regarding country and natural origins
  • Each tribe has their own Dreaming story associated with their area or country - each story is unique and told in a special way
    • Country - the area in which an Aboriginal person belongs to
    • Mother - the land of Australia
Summary :The Dreaming is largely an oral tradition - it is communicated across generations through employing the use of symbolism and art. Mediums for conveyance include song, poetry, dance and art. Aboriginal people often use the words mother and country to describe the land, with the latter referring to their local area.


Inextricable Connection of the Land, Identity and DreamingInvestigate the inextricable connection of the Dreaming, the land and identity
Key Questions:


  • What is the meaning of inextricable?
  • What is the significance of the land?
  • What is the significance of the Dreaming?
  • How do the land and Dreaming shape Aboriginal identity?

  • The Aboriginal people share a connection with the land that can never be broken, as it connects them to the spirits who dwell within it
  • The land is a physical medium through which the Dreaming is communicated, creating an inextricable connection between the Dreaming and the land
  • Aboriginal people believe that the land is intimately associated with spiritual beliefs and their conveyance
    • The land is 'impregnated with the power of ancestor spirits'
  • The dreaming performs the following functions for Aboriginal people: how to make things, how to operate love music, a passport to the land, lives of ancestors, why the land looks like it does, ethical behaviour, rituals, food gathering and preparation, why the people exist and tribal responsibilities
  • Aboriginal people have a way of life that is inclusive of all things - they are part of one, big family which includes the land itself
  • No life is older than the land - therefore, the land should be treated with love and respect, as anyone would treat their family
  • The carers of the family must look after the land. Everyone is part of the same family, so no one is ever lonely
Summary :The land, identity and Dreaming are inextricable - the land is a physical medium through which the Dreaming is conveyed and house ancestral spirits. Further, the Dreaming influences kinship, providing the Aboriginal people with a sense of identity. Much emphasis is placed on the land, with Aboriginal people believing it to be part of a large family and they have custodianship over it.

MODULE 2 – Christianity Depth Study

Origins - Historical and Cultural ContextStudents learn to outline the historical and cultural context in which Christianity began
Key Questions:


  • Where did Christianity begin?
  • What empires colonised the land at the time of Jesus?
  • Who did the Jews turn to for guidance?

  • Began in Judea - Jerusalem was the main religious centre that contained the temple. Jewish people were predominant, considered people of God under guide and leadership of Abraham
  • During Exodus, Jewish people were freed from Egypt and brought to promised land by Moses - renewal of the Abrahamic Covenant.
    • The Jewish people lived in the promised land
  • After many years, the Babylonians, Assyrians, Greeks and finally Romans took over their land, the latter of which established the Roman empire. They controlled Jewish lives
    • Jews turned to look for a Messiah to lead them back to God and their land
Summary :Christianity began in Judea, where Jerusalem was the main religious centre. The Exodus brought the Jewish people out of slavery and to the promised land, however, it was controlled by the Romans at the time of Jesus' birth. The Jews desired a Messiah to lead them back to their land.


Jesus ChristStudents learn to examine the principal events of Jesus' life and explain why He is the model for Christian life
Key Questions:


  • Who was Jesus Christ?
  • What was his goal whilst on Earth?
  • What was Jesus' ministry?
    • How did this differ from the pharisees of the time?
  • How did Jesus challenge the material world?
  • How did Jesus' life conclude
  • Why is Jesus a model for Christian life?

  • Jesus was did not seek to establish a new religion - he wanted to reform the ways of the Jewish people, which had become contrary to God's teaching
    • He was acting as a prophet in the eyes of Jewish people
  • Jesus preached regarding the nature and reign of God and the values worldly humans should show - peace, love and cooperation
    • Opposed depictions of God in eyes of Jewish people, who thought He was fierce and mean
  • Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth. He travelled to Galilee, where He was baptised by John the Baptist, His cousin
  • Jesus made the power of God known through preaching and healing, documented in all four Gospels
  • Jesus challenged the material world by demonstrating love and peace to all, causing the marginalised outcasts to follow Him after being rejected by the Jewish people
    • "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" (Jn 4:5). Jesus challenged the class-system of the time
    • “do you begrudge my generosity?” (Mt 20:15). He preached values of generosity and love to all people
  • Jesus' ministry concluded in Jerusalem, where He celebrated the Passover, was arrested and crucified
    • He was placed in a tomb and resurrected 3 days later. He appeared to his disciples, commissioned them and ascended to heaven
  • Christians view Jesus as a model for life who shows the perfect way to love God and everyone else. His way of living documented through the Gospels demonstrates the way in which all Christian adherents should strive to live
    • Jesus offers a direct link to God due to His Divinity and His teachings
  • Jesus's values provide a guide for Christian adherents, even 2000 years later:
    • As he showed compassion to the poor, healed the sick and taught the love of God. He is showing how to live a life that Christians should follow.
    • He is an idea, a philosopher or a teacher of values, wisdom who calls Christians to a radically personal relationship with God.
    • Calls his followers to conversion and discipleship that involve sacrifice and suffering.
    • This portrayal of Jesus helped provide framework for the beliefs, rituals, and behaviour for the whole life journey of the Christian.
Summary :Jesus, born in Bethlehem to the Virgin Mary, sought to reform Judaism to restore the people to God's will. He challenged the material world of the Jewish people with his ministry of love and peace, leading to His Crucifixion and subsequent Resurrection. He is a model for Christians today, showing how individuals should act to attain a deep, personal relationship with God.


Development of Early Christian CommunitiesDescribe the early development of Christian communities after the death of Jesus
Key Questions:


  • What are the four stages of the development of Christian communities?
  • When did Christianity split from Judaism?
  • Who stopped the persecution of Christians?
  • When was Christianity made the official religion of Rome?

  • 33-70 CE (Initial Wave) - begins with Pentecost after Jesus' death. Disciples were filled with Holy Spirit and were commissioned by Jesus to go out into the world and 'make disciples of all nations' (Matthew 28:19)
    • Peter became the leader of the Church.
    • Christianity remains a sect of Judaism - adherents follow Mosaic Law and the teachings based on Hebrew Scripture, however, they celebrate the Eucharist and Baptism
    • There was little formal activity in this period, as all believed that Christ's second coming was soon
  • 49 CE (Council of Jerusalem) - Christians were made to abandon all pagan beliefs and follow the decalogue + Jesus' teachings
    • Christianity was opened to the wider world, and all people could join if they renounced pagan ways and joined Christ
    • The mass following this attracted was a catalyst for the separation from Judaism
    • The destruction of the Jewish Temple as a result of the failed Jewish Revolt against Romans (66-73 CE) led to mass migration from citizens living in Judea
    • The growing numbers of followings made formalisation of the belief imminent, which led to Christianity's split from Judaism in 100 CE
  • 64-313 CE (Persecution) - The Jewish people were angered with Christianity's split and were fearful of Roman punishments if Jesus' teachings continued to spread across the Roman Empire.
    • As a result, Christian people were persecuted by the Romans and the Jewish people. During this time, followings declined significantly
    • Emperor Nero blamed the great fire of Rome (64 CE) on Christians. This signalled the beginning of the persecution, which lasted 2 centuries
  • 313 CE (Edict of Milan) - Constantine granted the Edict of Milan, legalising the Christian religion within the Roman Empire and ordering the end of persecution. He issued this edict after emerging victorious out of battle after receiving a vision from God
    • The Nicene Creed was created at the council of Nicaea (325) which signalled the official beginning of Christianity
    • In 380 CE, Emperor Theodosius issued the Edict of Thessalonica, which made Nicene Christianity the official religion of Rome and the state church of the Roman Empire
Summary :The spread of Christianity began with the commissioning of the Apostles at Pentecost. It split from Judaism in 100 CE, after the council of Jerusalem. The Christian people were persecuted between 64-313AD by Romans and Jews alike, as they opposed the world they lived in. Emperor Constantine ended this persecution through the issuing of the Edict of Milan in 313 AD. Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in 380 AD.


Christian VariantsOutline the unique features of Anglicanism, Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Pentecostalism and Protestantism
Key Questions:


  • What are the unique features of Anglicanism?
  • What are the unique features of Catholicism?
  • What are the unique features of Orthodoxy?
  • What are the unique features of Pentecostalism?
  • What are the unique features of Protestantism?

  • Anglicanism (Church of England) - emerged in the 16th century during Henry VII's reign. They accept the statement 'a fellowship with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional churches in communion with the See of Canterbury" (Lambeth Conference, 1930)
    • Built on the theology of Martin Luther and reformers such as John Calvin, which led to the development of key features such as
      • Authority - connection between biblical and papal authority: the monarch is head of the Church, but the Archbishop of Canterbury has power. Do not follow the pope; no international judicial authority
      • Justification - salvation is attained through Faith in Jesus and through the Grace of God, rather than good deeds
        • “One is justified by faith apart from works of law” (Romans 3:28).
      • Role and importance of sacraments in salvation
      • Priesthood - all members of the church are equal; there is no priest and all have equal power
      • Book of common prayer - unique to Anglicans, put together during reformation
      • Eucharist merely symbolises the Body and Blood of Christ (consubstantiation)
    • High Anglicanism (Anglo-Catholic) are similar to Christians and highlight importance of ritual and sacraments
    • Low Anglicanism (Evangelical) highlights the importance of preaching the word to others and personal conversion
  • Catholicism - Divided into Eastern and Western Traditions. Eastern are divided into Churches (Maronite/Antiochian, Coptic/Alexandrian, Melkite, Ukrainian/Byzantine). Largest denomination of all variants
    • Key features include
      • Eucharist is the central act of Worship - transubstantiation turns the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ
      • 7 sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, Marriage)
      • Strong focus on Mary - Mother of God and Mother of the Church
      • Communion of Saints - intercede for the mundane
      • Heaven, hell and purgatory
      • Follow the Pope - Bishop of Rome
      • Scripture and tradition play a clear role in revelation
      • There is a need for penance + communion in order to attain salvation
      • Faith must be exhibited in good deeds in order to achieve salvation
        • “You see that a man is justified by works but not by instantaneous faith.”(James 2:24)
  • Orthodoxy - centralised on the Divine Liturgy (Eucharist). Rich use of symbolism, icons and vestments.
    • Liturgies are commonly fully sung, use incense and there is a barrier (iconostasis) which keeps part of the service obscured
    • Key features include
      • Liturgies are long and symbolic
      • Sacramental view of existence and church membership
      • Monasticism is central since 4th century CE (no specific orders for works)
      • Recognises in 7 sacraments, professes Nicene Creed
  • Pentecostalism (Christian Charismatic Churches) - created on 1/1/1901 where a USA student was reported to speak in tongues. Aim is to restore the gifts of Holy Spirit given during Pentecost (Acts 2:4-11)
    • Believe tis contributes to thought, practise and worship of Christian Church (Acts 10:46, Corinthians 14)
    • Values healing, prophesying and interpretation of prophecy (1 Corinthians 12:8-10)
    • Cooperative worship - everyone worships together as one
  • Protestantism - based on principles of the Reformation. Founding branches are Lutheranism, Calvinism and Zwinglianism, which yield other denominations such as Methodism, Presbyterianism.
    • Key features include
      • Does not acknowledge supremacy of the Pope
      • Minimises liturgical and sacramental aspects
      • Bible is only source of revealed truth
      • Salvation is achieved through faith, not good deeds. Do not accept Saints
      • Baptism and Communion are central sacraments
      • No need for Earthly priests or mediators
      • Transcendence of God - emphasis
      • Preaching and listening to the Word
      • Family Tree of Religious Groups
Summary :Over time, the Christian church divided into several variants, categorised by their different beliefs. However, the different churches were united in their belief of the Risen Christ and the belief in the Trinity. Each variant has their own denominations within them, dividing the church even further.
Divinity and Humanity of Jesus ChristStudents learn to outline the principal beliefs regarding the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ
Key Questions:


  • What is the Divinity and Humanity of Jesus Christ?
  • When was this teaching developed?
  • What is the significance of Jesus' humanity and divinity?

  • Athanasius (296-323 CE) proposed that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. He had the same nature as God, but was also fully human
  • The Council of Nicaea (325 CE) adopted these teachings, and the doctrine of the Holy Trinity was formed
    • Holy Trinity - God is seen as one God of three distinct aspects - God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit
  • The Holy Trinity is a concept beyond human nature - mere humans can not understand it. When Christians enter salvation, they believe that they will be able to understand this mystery of Faith
    • St Thomas Aquinas 'if you understand the Holy Trinity, you do not understand the Holy Trinity'
  • Christ is believed to be human, living at a certain time and having certain limitations (eg. experiencing pain, anger, fear). He is also the divine Son of God.
    • Adherents believe His life, death and resurrection were significant to all humanity
  • John 1:14 'And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only son of the Father'
Summary :The Council of Nicaea (325 CE) adopted the teachings of St Athanasius, who taught that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. As a result, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity was formed. Christians believe that Christ was alive and walked the earth, however, He had powers and abilities transcending human limitations.


Death and Resurrection of Jesus ChristStudents learn to explain the importance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for Christians
Key Questions:


  • What was the purpose of Jesus' Death and Resurrection?
  • What was the event following the Crucifixion?
  • What is the relevance of Jesus' Death and Resurrection to Christians today?

  • Gospel accounts detail Jesus' arrest, taken to Golgotha and crucified. They state that this was the end of Jesus' earthly life
  • However, it was not the end of His mission. After dying, Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to His followers (Matthew 28:1-15, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-18)
  • He then ascended into heaven and was raised into new life - entering a glorious and transformed state (Mark 1:6-19, Luke 24:50-53).
    • Christian feast of the Ascension is celebrated 40 days after Easter
  • All Christians believe that, like Jesus, one day they too will have their body and soul transformed to share in the life of Jesus in Heaven (2 Cor 4:14, 1 Cor 15:35, 42-44)
  • The death and resurrection is the foundation of the Christian religion, as demonstrated by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians " “If Christ has not been raised, then empty… is our preaching; empty, too, your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14).
Summary :Jesus' death was not the end of His earthly ministry. He resurrected, ascended into heaven and commissioned the 12 Apostles to spread His mission. Christians believe that Jesus' death and resurrection was the basis of the religion itself - He renewed the covenant of the Jewish people and attained salvation for all.


Nature of God and the TrinityStudents learn to outline the beliefs about the nature of God and of the Trinity
Key Questions:


  • What is the Trinity?
  • What are the three functions of the Trinity?
  • Where is the Trinity referenced through the Bible?

  • Adherents believe in one God who creates all things, but who can be known as three persons: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit
  • Each person is distinct, but does not act in isolation of the others - this is a mystery of Faith; the Trinity is beyong human comprehension
  • The Trinity has 3 functions
    • Creating - bringing God to all
    • Sanctifying - making all things holy
    • Redeeming - moving things from sin and darkness towards God' light
  • The Trinity is thoroughly referenced throughout the Gospels, for example:
    • 'The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of Holy Spirit be with you all' (Corinthians 13:14) - this is used in the mass
    • 'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit' (Matthew 28:19) - this is used in sacramental Baptism
Summary :The Trinity is the belief that God exists in a sole form, but has three distinct aspects: Father, Son and Holy Sprit. The Trinity is beyond human comprehension - when Christians are in heaven, they will understand it fully. The Trinity's three functions are creating, sanctifying and redeeming and is made evident throughout the New Testament.


RevelationStudents learn to examine the Christian understanding of revelation
Key Questions:


  • What is the meaning of revelation?
  • Where is revelation present in the Christian faith?
  • What are examples of revelation?

  • Refers to the transmission of knowledge from divine to mundane. For Christians, it is the revealing of God's will and law to humanity through words and deeds
  • God's knowledge is transmitted to humanity, concerning people, events and things that are not fully known to the humans on Earth
  • Christians view revelation as not only a form of communication, but an invitation to join in unity with God, who urges adherents to display their faith through actions, not just through accepting doctrines
  • Revelation is not merely a past proclamation - He continued to communicate across history. He can also communicate through events, the faith and joys/hardships of the world
  • Revelation is both found within the Old Testament and the New Testament - “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets… but in these late days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
Summary :Revelation refers to the transmitting of divine knowledge from God to humans, and is evident within Christianity through prophets and Jesus Himself. Revelation is not a past concept - it continues to occur through historical events and is recorded in both the Old and New Testaments.


SalvationStudents learn to describe the Christian understanding of salvation
Key Questions:


  • What is salvation?
  • How has salvation been attained?
  • What are the three features of Salvation?

  • Refers to the belief in life after death. For Christians, it is the belief that humans will be delivered by God from sin and darkness and brought to the fullness of life
  • Salvation is focussed on an omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient God who is beyond human understanding, but His love is made known through salvation
  • Salvation was achieved for all humanity through Christ's life, death and resurrection. Through His passion, sin was conquered and eternal life achieved
    • "We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1)
  • Christian salvation has the following three features
    • Initial fruits of salvation can be made known in present life - full realisation of this is made known in afterlife. The presence of God in the afterlife fulfils adherents' knowledge
    • Present life's trial and tribulations prevent salvation from being achieved by people themselves. The grace of God is necessary to obtain salvation
    • Jesus is central to salvation as it was achieved through His life, death and resurrection.
      • 'For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but may have everlasting life' (John 3:16)
Summary :Salvation, for Christians, refers to the belief in life after death. Christians believe that salvation was attained through Jesus' death and resurrection and can only be truly experienced after death, with God, in heaven.
OverviewStudents learn about the Bible
Key Questions:


  • What is Christianity's sacred text?
  • What is the significance of the Bible?

  • The Sacred Text of Christianity is the Bible - containing the Old and New Testament. The Bible is the foundation of Christianity, guiding adherents to understand God Himself
    • There are three principal functions of the Bible, which will be discussed later
  • In addition to the Bible, each individual variation of Christianity and the denominations within it have their own writings detailing the faith.
  • For Christianity, these texts include
    • Papal Encyclicals
    • Catechism of the Catholic Church
    • Writings of Doctors of the Church
  • The Bible is God's Word. Therefore, those who study it are filled with God's knowledge and example and should seek to put this into action through their lives
Summary :The Sacred text of Christianity is the Bible, which provides God's word to Christian adherents. It transmits God's knowledge to adherents and guides them to put it into action through their lives.


Role of the BibleIdentify the importance of the Bible in Christianity and examine extracts of the Bible which demonstrate the principal beliefs of Christianity
Key Questions:


  • What are the functions of the Bible in everyday life?
  • What is the function of the Bible in relation to ethics?
  • How does the Bible convey God's teachings to Christian adherents?

  • The Bible has three main functions: acting in everyday life, developing ethical guidance for adherents and communicating key teachings of Christianity
  • Role in everyday life -
    • Communicates basic rituals and sacraments
    • Provides purposeful prayer and reflection and acts as a tool for this
    • Aids domestic rituals, such as grace before meals
    • Helps adherents to celebrate their faith through their lives, or in times of uncertainty or questioning - “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” (Lk 6:12).
  • Developing Ethical Guidelines
    • Helps develop guidelines on how to act in certain situations
    • Provides a scaffold for decision making by studying examples of Biblical characters
    • Promotes questioning of moral boundaries --> leads to an understanding of self goals
    • Provides information and teachings relevant to difficult choices or principles one must enact “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44)
  • Communicates Teachings of Christianity & Explains God's Word
    • Demonstrates the nature of God
    • Shows the Ministry of Christ through parables, stories and recounts
    • A key source of revelation for all denomination
    • Helps to understand and teach Christian belief “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling amongst us” (John 1:14).
Summary :The Bible functions for Christians in three ways. It helps adherents celebrate their faith through their lives, through actions and prayer, develops ethical guidance for Christians and communicates teachings regarding God and His will to adherents on Earth.
OverviewStudents learn about the 10 Commandments and New Testament including the Beatitudes & Jesus' Commandment of Love
Key Questions:


  • What are Christian ethical teachings founded on?
  • What are the three sources of Christian ethical teaching?
  • What is the purpose of ethical teaching?

  • The ideals and goals of Christianity primarily dictate the actions of man, which should aim to demonstrate love and compassion to each other, even in times of hardship.
  • Christianity's ethical teachings are founded on Jesus Christ, and often share the belief that humans are made in the image of God.
    • As a result, they have intellect, free will and self determination, enabling them to act with morality
  • Christianity's ethical teachings are based on three main extracts from the Bible: the Decalogue, the Beatitudes and the Commandment of Love, which have endured time to guide adherents today.
    • Adherents who follow these teachings develop relationships with others, as well as relationships with the omnipresent God
  • Ethical teachings prompt adherents to act in the wisdom of God, the risen Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
    • They remain relevant and guide adherents to live lives of justice and compassion, guiding through moral question and dilemmas
Summary :Christian ethical teachings are based on the life and values of Jesus Christ. In particular, they extract the values of the Decalogue, the Beatitudes and Jesus' Commandment of Love in order to guide adherents to act in the wisdom of God, especially in times of moral questioning and dilemma.


10 CommandmentsStudents learn to describe the importance of ethical teachings in the lives of adherents
Key Questions:


  • Where are the 10 Commandments found?
  • What is the contents of the 10 Commandments?
  • How do adherents use the commandments to guide their lives?

  • Found in the Old Testament, the 10 Commandments were given by God to Moses atop Mt Sinai, documented in Exodus 20: 1-17.
  • They are a set of rules and guidelines divided into two primary parts - the first three focus on the worship of God, whilst the remaining seven focus on relationships with others and their neighbour
  • They should not be seen as chores or tasks or even punishments - they are given by God as a sign of His love.
    • The commandments do not seek perfection, but rather encourage to act in the way of Christ
  • Each commandment has many values associated with it, though not explicitly stated. 'Though shall not kill' shows values of trust, justice and honesty
  • The commandments provide boundaries for Christian living and therefore act as a key foundation for ethical decision making
Summary :The 10 Commandments were given to Moses and the Israelites in Exodus 20 and are a set of rules that dictate one's relationships with God and others. They set boundaries for Christian living, encouraging individuals to act in the way of Christ by living out the values of each individual commandment.


Jesus' Commandment of Love (Golden Rule)Students learn to describe the importance of ethical teachings in the lives of adherents
Key Questions:


  • What is Jesus' Commandment of Love?
  • What three factors does Jesus' Commandment emphasise?
  • How is the Commandment shown through the Gospels?

  • God's moral teaching was emphasised by His son when He came down to Earth. He essentially summarises the majority of the Decalogue through His commandment
    • “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34)
  • The commandment emphasises three factors regarding Christian ethics
    • Repentance is the basis of ethical life
    • God demands that adherents do what is right throughout their everyday lives, even if the normal human nature tells us otherwise
    • This commandment is central to Christian living and indeed, Christian ethics
  • The commandment is displayed through various elements of the Gospel, for example John's first letter, "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God" (1 John 4:7)
Summary :The Commandment of Love summarises the Decalogue through three teachings: repentance, pursual to do what is right and the centrality of the commandment to Christian living. All actions of Jesus are reflected by this covenant and adherents' actions should reflect it too.


The BeatitudesStudents learn to describe the importance of ethical teachings in the lives of adherents
Key Questions:


  • Where were the Beatitudes given?
  • What values are shown through the Beatitudes?
  • What is the central focus of the Beatitudes?
  • What is the purpose of the Beatitudes?

  • Jesus, through his Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:1-12), gave the Beatitudes to His followers. They are declarations of praise that promote values of humility, meekness and hunger for righteousness
  • Their purpose was to instruct adherents on virtues that should be lived out through their lives. They guide adherents to be conscious of the poor and those who suffer. Eg “Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children” (Mt 5:9)
  • Luke's version of the Beatitudes detail poverty, hunger and desolation, promising rewards from God if action is taken. The Beatitudes are reinforced by threatening woes given by Jesus
  • The social justice message of the Beatitudes is present in many biblical passages, such as the Good Samaritan or the Raising of the Widow's Husband, which demonstrates compassion and humility
  • Seen in modern society through the work of charity organisations such as St Vincent de Paul or the Salvation Army
Summary :The Beatitudes are a fulfilment of the 10 Commandments, which promote social justice through the values of humility, meekness and hunger for righteousness. They are not laws, but rather an ethical system of values encouraging adherents to be conscious of the poor and the suffering. The underlying message of the Beatitudes, social justice, can be seen in many biblical passages and indeed in Christ's mission.
OverviewStudents learn about prayer
Key Questions:


  • What is prayer?
  • What is the purpose of prayer?
  • What are the effects of prayer?

  • Prayer does not change God - He does not gain anything out of prayer, but rather, our prayers demonstrate our relationship with God
  • We pray because Jesus told us to; 'pray always'. We also pray for our own needs and to reassure oursleves that God is listening
  • The primary goal of prayer is to strengthen the relationship one has with God. Prayer does not change God, but it changes people and it changes things
  • Purposes for prayer
    • During suffering- personal or family/friends 🡪 gives hope
    • During times of decision making 🡪 asking for advice/ guidance
    • When grateful 🡪 give thanks and appreciation
    • When one has sinned 🡪 asks for forgiveness

      • Prayer varies for each denomination. For example, Catholics pray for the intercession of saints or Mary, while protestants pray directly to God
      • Prayer provides opportunity for one to experience the mysteries of the Faith. It provides direction, a sense of community and joy. It encourages adherents to act in a more Christ like way to all people
Summary :Prayer is an action that changes adherents to engage in a deeper relationship with God. It provides for adherents an opportunity to experience the faith in a living way through intercession or reflection on God and His work.


The Types of PrayerStudents learn to describe the different types of personal prayer
Key Questions:


  • What are the types of prayer?
  • What is the significance of each type of prayer?

  • Contrary to popular belief, prayer is not just asking God to do something. There are 5 forms of prayer within the Christian Faith, expressed either vocally, mentally or in a contemplative manner
  • Blessing (eg. Gloria, Lord's Prayer, Hail Mary)
    • Exalts the greatness of God and acknolwedges Him for His great deeds
  • Adoration (eg. Gloria, St Faustina Prayer, Glory Be)
    • Adherents adore the greatness of God and focus on God. They forget themselves and focus on what transcends their mundane world
    • Adherents acknowledge the greatness of God and gain a deeper sense of communion with Him through appreciation of His power
  • Petition (eg. Penitential Rite, Agnus Dei)
    • Adherents ask God for things which they would like in their lives, both spiritual and physical needs
    • Adherents may also choose to ask for forgiveness of their sins. However, they must be wary that God's will always triumphs
  • Intercession (eg. Prayers of the Faithful, Hail Mary)
    • Asking God to think about the needs of others, and not our own, either through asking God or the saints or Mary
    • Prayers of intercession, "leads us to pray as Jesus did" (Article 2634 of the CCC)
  • Thanksgiving (eg. Grace before meals, Gloria and General Thanks)
    • Thanking God for what has already been done or what has been given to adherents through His power
    • Many adherents often forget to say thank you to God - this accounts for minimal prayer times
Summary :Christian prayer can be divided into five main types. Blessing and adoration are prayers or praise, which acclaim God's glory and adore it. Petition and intercession are used to ask for things, whether it be for themselves or for others. Prayers of thanksgiving are used to thank God for what has been done or what has been given. Through engaging in these prayers, Christians feel closer to God.

MODULE 3 – Judaism Depth Study

The Life of AbrahamStudents learn to outline the life of Abraham
Key Questions:


  • Who was the first Jewish patriarch?
  • Where is Abraham's story found?
  • What three promises were made to Abraham?
  • Who was in Abraham's family?
  • Who did Abraham sacrifice? Why?
  • Why is Abraham a model for Jewish life?

  • Abraham, initially Abram, was the first Jewish Patriarch. God promised Him that he would be the Father of a great people if he followed God's directions
    • Abraham rejected paganism and was the first person to recognise a single God. As such, the Hebrews were distinguished by their faith in One God and their confidence in the Covenant between Jews and God
  • Abraham's story is found in Genesis. God ordered him to leave his home (Ur in Mesopotamia) and travelled to Haran “Leave your country, your relatives and your father’s home, and go to a land that I am going to show you” (Gen 12:1)
  • It was here that God made the covenant with Abraham. The covenant was based on three promises
    • Promise of a relationship with God
    • Promise of numerous descendants
    • Promise of land
  • God promised Abraham to be the father of a great people, with his descendants being God's people. In return, God would provide protection and guidance and give them the land of Israel. “ancestor of a multitude of nations” (Gen17:5).
  • Abraham had a son, Ishmael, with his wife's servant at 86. He had a son with his wife Sarah when he was 100 years old and called him Isaac.
    • Abraham expelled Ishmael from his house
  • God instructed Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham obliged, highlighting his devotion and love for God. At the last second, God told him to sacrifice an animal instead
  • Abraham, therefore is a model of Jewish life - his example is one of faith, integrity and compassion
  • Abraham is the founder of three world religions - Islam, Judaism and Christianity, of which Judaism is the mother-faith.
    • All three date back to Abraham, who discovered the one true God
  • The Covenant was later reaffirmed at Mount Sinai through the giving of the Decalogue, revealing the way in which to act and serve God
Summary :Abraham was the first patriarch of the Jewish people. He made a covenant with God that, in return for his obedience to God's teachings, God would grant him descendants, land and a relationship with Him. So great was Abraham's love for God that, when directed, he was willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, in accordance with God's will. Abraham is the father of the three Abrahamic religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism and is a model of Jewish life, as he sets an example of faith, integrity, compassion and bold loyalty to God, the sole creator.


Covenant with the Patriarchs (Promise of a People/Land)Describe the Covenant with the Patriarchs, including the promise of a People and a Land
Key Questions:


  • What is the Covenant with the Patriarchs?
  • What is the significance of the covenant for Jews?

  • This covenant is believed to exist between God and Jewish people from the time of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his 12 sons)
  • The covenant details God's promise of land and protection of Israel's children if they honoured and respected him (observed in Genesis 12:1-13
Summary :The Covenant with the Patriarchs was made between God and Abraham and was transferred down the Abrahamic line, where it still exists today. The Covenant details God's promise of land and protection if the Israelites obey His will.


The Exodus, Moses & Giving of the TorahOutline the story of the Exodus and the giving of the Law at Sinai, including the 10 Commandments
Key Questions:


  • What is the Exodus?
  • What is the life of Moses?
  • Where did Moses bring the Israelites?
  • What is the Torah?

  • The story of Exodus details the freeing of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and the unification of the people with God through the Mosaic covenant
  • The story begins in Exodus 1, where Pharaoh orders the enslavement of Jewish people and slaughtering of Jewish new-borns
  • To protect Moses, his mother put him in the river. He was found by Pharaoh's daughter and raised an Egyptian
  • God calls to Moses several years later through the Burning Bush, telling Moses to tell pharaoh to let his people go
    • Pharaoh refuses, so God sends 10 plagues. After the death of his first born son, he releases the Israelites and leads them through the Red Sea and to the Promised Land after 40 years
  • During the 40 years of wandering, Moses brought the Israelites to Mt Sinai, where he received the Torah, reinstating the Abrahamic Covenant
    • This also created a new covenant, the Mosaic Covenant
  • The Torah contains the laws of Jewish people - including 10 Commandments, moral and ethical imperatives, dietary laws and religious principles
    • Adherents abide by these laws to continue the validity of this Covenant
Summary :The Exodus details the bringing of the Israelites out of Egypt, led by Moses, a former Egyptian. Moses leads the Israelites through the desert for 40 years, during which he receives the 10 Commandments atop Mt Sinai and renews the Abrahamic Covenant. God gives Moses the Torah, which contains the laws of the Jewish people that are abided by to ensure the validity of the Covenant.


Passover - Legacy of the ExodusOutline the story of the Exodus and the giving of the Law at Sinai, including the 10 Commandments
Key Questions:


  • What is the Passover?
  • Where is the Exodus recorded?
  • What are the three themes of the Exodus?

  • To commemorate the Exodus Story, the Passover is celebrated. This is a significant event in the Jewish calendar, representing liberation and freedom of Jewish people
  • The last four books of the Torah tell the story of the Exodus; a pilgrimage which developed the identity of the self and the faith itself
  • The Exodus demonstrates the following themes
    • Divinity of God - seen through the Burning Bush
    • Only one God - Building of the Golden Calf
    • Justice - punishment is given to those who do not uphold the covenant + 10 plagues of Egypt, death of Egyptians in Red Sea “for God fights for their cause, and strikes those who strike them”
Summary :The Passover is a commemoration of the Exodus and a celebration of the freedom that was granted to them by God. The Exodus itself is recorded in the last four books of the Torah, demonstrating the themes of divinity, the sole God and justice.


Jewish VariantsOutline the unique features of Conservative, Orthodox and Progressive Judaism
Key Questions:


  • What are the unique features of Conservative Judaism?
  • What are the unique features of Orthodox Judaism?
  • What are the unique features of Progressive Judaism?

  • The destruction of the two holy Jewish temples caused the Jewish people to be scattered across the world, leading to variants of the Faith emerging
  • Conservative
    • Fosters traditional Judaism while embracing modernity. Yet more traditional than progressive Judaism, especially in relation to worship.
    • Study of Holy texts is embedded in belief that Judaism is constantly evolving to meet contemporary needs.
    • Belief that the laws of the Torah and the Talmud are of divine origin, and therefore requires the following of Jewish law (halacha) yet acknowledges the human element in the sacred texts.
    • Belief that God’s will is made known to man through revelations. The revelation at Sinai the most public, but also belief in revelations to the prophets.
    • Service is in Hebrew but includes prayers in English
    • Places great importance on a universal people of Israel and the centrality of the land of Israel.

      • Orthodox
        • Traditional observances as prescribed by law, limited interpretation of the Torah.
        • Distinguished by its worship in traditional Hebrew.
        • Belief in Biblical laws, with respect for the law’s divine origin.
        • Not administered by any central authority
        • Synagogues are established by groups and individuals and each has their own distinctive ideology and culture.

          • Progressive
            • Created in an effort to modernise the Faith for younger generations.
            • Views the sacred heritage of the Torah as evolving and adapting. Belief that the Torah needs to be reinterpreted to capture the age.
            • Rejected belief in a personal Messiah, resurrection of the dead, rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem
            • Main ideological distinction with the Orthodox is the temple service, uses English and is adapted and shortened. Men and women sit together and women Rabbis may officiate, use of organ music and liturgical features.
            • Since the Holocaust have been more supportive of Zionism (national movement for return of the Jewish people to their homeland) and greater interest in revival of ritual.
Summary :The Jewish temple's destruction dispersed Jewish people across the world, causing the development of many different Jewish variants. Each variant has their own individual differences, however, they are united in the belief of a sole Creator and the maintenance of the Covenant.
Sole God - Creator of the UniverseStudents learn to discuss the belief in the one God and the attributes of God
Key Questions:


  • What is the belief of the Jews in God?
  • Is God transcendent or immanent?
  • What are the three aspects of God?
  • How do Hebrew Scriptures describe God?
  • What do Jewish people seek to do with the attributes of God?

  • Jewish people believe that God is the solve divine God, who was, is and always will be. This poses Judaism as a monotheistic religion.
    • “You shall have no other God before me, you shall not make for yourself an idol”
  • God is believed to be transcendent, immanent and the Creator. He is separate from the world, however, is still present through the Covenant with Abraham
  • Adherents avoid material representation of God, believing he is incorporeal - as a result, they avoid iconography and physical representations of Him
  • Jewish people believe that God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. Although God is separate from the physical world, He has a deep relationship with humanity through His love for them. Demonstrated in Genesis 1:26 "Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
  • God is good and everything that He creates is good. He does not act out of anger or personal preference, but rather morality itself.
  • God is holy, “You shall be holy because I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev 19:2). Holiness ennobles ethics, which enables life
  • Hebrew scripture describes God in three ways
    • As a clan - e.g. God of Abraham and his descendants
    • God of the land of Israel - Covenant with God and Jews is lined by the land
    • Universal God - creator of the universe
  • Jewish people aim to emulate the attributes of God through their lives. They do this in many ways, inclusive of the Shema; a declaration of faith proclaimed twice a day by Jewish adherents. It consists of three Torah passages. The first one demonstrates Jewish monotheism, reading "Hear, O Israel: The Hashem our God, the Hashem is one" Deuteronomy 6:4
Summary :The Jewish people believe in one, transcendent, immanent God who creates everything. He is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient and has a deep relationship with the Jewish people through the Covenant. Hebrew scripture describes God as a clan, the God of the Land of Israel and the Universal God. Jewish people seek to like a life like God's, proclaiming their faith and living in His ways.


Moral Law Prescribed by GodStudents learn to outline the concept of a divinely inspired moral law
Key Questions:


  • What is the source of the moral law?
  • What is a divinely inspired moral law?
  • What are the Mitzvot?
  • What is the significance of the divinely inspired moral law?

  • Found in the Jewish sacred text, moral law binds Jewish people to God. The main source of law is within the Torah, containing the 613 Mitzvot (commandments)
    • 248 are positive commandments - rituals of Jewish people, obedience to covenant
    • 365 are negative commandments - actions one must refrain from doing
  • The Mitzvot contain all aspects of life and worship and are used by the Jewish people to express their faithfulness to the Covenant.
  • Orthodox Jews believe that the laws were revealed to humans by God and are therefore Divine. Non-Orthodox Jews believe that the laws are divinely inspired
  • Some Mitzvot no longer apply to modern life. Some Mitzvot apply not only to Jews, but to all people of the world.
    • Eg - Noahide Laws are 7 basic laws that should be followed by all people
    • Women are exempt from some positive Mitzvot, others apply only them.
  • The commandments further express various aspects of Jewish life, such as the distinction between men and women in areas of worship and daily life
Summary :Jewish people believe that their law is divinely inspired by God, and is found in the Torah. The law contains the 613 Mitzvot, which can apply either to men, women or both. The Mitzvot and the moral law itself dictate all aspects of Jewish life, showing adherents the way in which to adhere to God's will and sustain a deep relationship with Him.


The CovenantStudents learn to identify the importance of the Covenant for the Jewish people
Key Questions:


  • What is the Covenant?
  • What is the purpose of the Covenant?
  • How are Jewish people provided with their identity?

  • The Covenant highlights the unique relationship between God and His people - it is a central expression of the faith and the identity of the Jews "And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people" Leviticus 26:12
  • The covenant serves as an immanent aspect of the Jewish faith and limits God's omnipotence by giving the Jewish people freewill. However, this comes with many moral obligations
  • The Torah is an expression of the Covenant and is further developed in Hebrew Scriptures. The requirements of keeping the Covenant active (Halachah) are seen within the 613 Mitzvot in the written Torah
    • Jewish adherents return God's unbounded love by following the Halachah
  • Orthodox Judaism believes the Covenant's importance is through the Torah - a guide for everyday living. Progressive Judaism believes that the covenant is highlighted through the engagement of sacred texts and writings in order to live a spiritual life.
    • The Covenant, overall, is expressed through a deep concern for the people and state of Israel
  • The covenant acts as a point of communication for adherents - God engages in mundane human activity through this relationship. The covenant's main goal is to restore perfection to the world through peace and participation
  • The Covenant unites Jewish people with a sense of identity - all share common beliefs, practises and laws. Circumcision is a sign of accepting and ratifying the covenant (Brit Milah)
Summary :The Covenant is the immanent presence of God on earth, giving the Jewish people freewill. The Torah is an expression of the Covenant; within it are the Halachah, which are the requirements of the Covenant that must be fulfilled in order to ensure its maintenance. God is made known to adherents through the Covenant and it provides the Jewish people with a sense of identity through shared beliefs, practises and laws.
The TanakhStudents learn to identify the importance of the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud

Students learn to examine extracts from the Hebrew Scriptures which demonstrate the principal beliefs of Judaism

Key Questions:


  • What is the Tanakh?
  • What books are found within the Tanakh?
  • What is the significance of the Tanakh?

  • The Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh) was written over 1000 years ago and has three main sections
    • Torah (Law) - the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. It has the 613 Mitzvot and commandments are the essence of this book. The teachings it encompasses include: monotheism, love of God, human life is sacred.
      • Also includes the Halachah - legal code of Judaism based on the Torah and rabbinical interpretation over many years
      • It is forbidden to add, subtract or interpret commandments contrary to Jewish tradition “Things that are revealed to us belong to us and our children forever, to keep all the words of this Torah (Deut 29:28).
    • Nevi'im (Prophets) - includes the writings of those who were called by God to communicate His message to humanity on Earth.
      • Books include - Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and The Twelve minor prophets
    • Ketuvim (Writings) - Writings that are collected over time by ordinary members of the community. Not believed to be divinely inspired (except Danciel)
      • Books include - Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Ruth, Daniel
  • The Tanakh has 24 books in total and is written primarily in Hebrew (believed to be a divine language)
  • There are numerous interpretations of the Tanakh - seen through Rabbinic literature speaking of the '70 faces of Torah' - for each word or phrase within the Bible, there are at least 70 interpretations
Summary :The Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) contains three books - the Torah, which is the law of the Jewish people, the Nevi'im, which are the writings of the prophets, and the Ketuvim, which are the writings of Jewish community members. The Tanakh provides for Jewish adherents their moral law through the Torah and an expression of identity through the beliefs within it.


The TalmudStudents learn to identify the importance of the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud

Students learn to examine extracts from the Hebrew Scriptures which demonstrate the principal beliefs of Judaism

Key Questions:


  • What is the Talmud?
  • What are the parts of the Talmud?
  • How are the Talmud and Tanakh related to the principal beliefs of Judaism?

  • A collection of discussions and comments by prominent Rabbis regarding the Tanakh. It also serves to define laws, customs and ethics
    • Can be seen as a guide-book for Jewish adherents, allowing them to uphold the covenant
  • The Talmud is divided into two parts
    • Mishnah - earliest written compilations of the Oral Torah. It includes interpretations, opinions and debates explaining how to live and apply the Mitzvot
    • Gemara - addition commentary regarding the Mishnah and an extension of the teachings found within it
  • The Talmud and Tanakh confirm the principal beliefs of Judaism, seen through extracts from the Bible itself
    • God is Omniscient - "Before a word is on my tongue, you, Lord, know it already" Psalms 139:4
    • God is Omnipotent - Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant. (Exodus 14: 26, 31)
    • God is Pure in Spirit and has no physical form - seen through the Creation story (Genesis 2:4-7) as He created everything
Summary :The Talmud is a collection of interpretations, debates and comments regarding the Tanakh, helping to explain its significance to Jewish adherents. The Talmud is divided into two parts - Mishnah, which contains interpretations, opinions and debates on the Mitzvot, and the Gemara; additional commentary on the Mishnah. The Talmud and Tanakh's extracts confirm the principal beliefs of Judaism, indeed, that is where they are derived from.
Commandments of the TorahStudents learn to outline the principal ethical teachings of Judaism, which include: the Commandments of the Torah, the Prophetic Vision (including social justice and Tikkun Olam) and the Book of Proverbs - wisdom, righteousness, purity and generosity of spirit
Key Questions:


  • What are the Torah's commandments?
  • How do the Torah's commandments guide Jewish adherents?

  • Serve as a guide to spiritual life and rituals as well as justify Jewish ethical principles. The 613 Mitzvot provide a standard of behaviour and create an ordered society that shares mindfulness of God
  • The 10 Commandments form part of the 613 Mitzvot - the first three concern worship of God and the remaining 7 concern relationships one has with others
  • The remaining 603 Mitzvot detail every aspect of Jewish life - from ethical eating practises to clothing
  • “God wanted to benefit Israel; he therefore gave then Torah and commandments in abundance.” God gave these laws as a guide for all, so that they may live well with each other and Him
  • The whole of the Torah's teachings are guided by the central principle of - “what you find hateful, do not do to others”
  • Jewish adherents who are faithful must keep the commandments of the covenant “If you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession”(Exodus 19 : 5)
Summary :The Torah's commandments include the 613 Mitzvot, 10 of which are the Decalogue. The commandments detail every aspect of Jewish life, providing for adherents a guide to Jewish life. Adherents to these commandments ensures maintenance of the Covenant.


Prophetic Vision & Tikkun OlamStudents learn to outline the principal ethical teachings of Judaism, which include: the Commandments of the Torah, the Prophetic Vision (including social justice and Tikkun Olam) and the Book of Proverbs - wisdom, righteousness, purity and generosity of spirit
Key Questions:


  • What is prophetic Vision?
  • What is Tikkun Olam?
  • What is the significance of prophetic vision and Tikkun Olam?

  • Prophetic vision refers to an experience where an individual, item or event appears vividly within the mind, being under the influence of the divine or another agency
  • In the context of Judaism, God called prophets who walked the earth to communicate God's message to the Jewish people
  • A prophet's main goal is to ensure that the covenant is maintained and protected, through administering God's direct messages to all
  • Tikkun Olam refers to 'repair the world', which is a social justice principle. The need for social justice is a strong theme within the books of the prophets. For example, “trample on the heads of the poor and deny justice to the oppressed.” (Amos 2:7).
  • Social justice is present across all Jewish variants, being one of the 613 Mitzvot. Tikkun Olam itself illustrates a system of vales that guide adherents' actions with the world
    • For example, Jews are called to be stewards of God's creation. They should cultivate His work through deeds of loving kindness (Gemilut Chasadim)
    • "See to it that you do not spoil and destroy my world, for if you do there will be no one else to repair it" (Ecclesiastes 7:13)
Summary :Prophetic vision was used by God in the old testament to convey God's mission and Will to humans on Earth. The main goal of the prophets was to ensure the maintenance of the Covenant. Tikkun Olam refers to the concept of social justice or 'repair the world', which is a central theme across all Jewish variants. Indeed, Tikkun Olam is one of the 613 Mitzvot, making it a central teaching for all Jewish people.


Book of Proverbs - Wisdom, Righteousness, Purity & Generosity of SpiritStudents learn to outline the principal ethical teachings of Judaism, which include: the Commandments of the Torah, the Prophetic Vision (including social justice and Tikkun Olam) and the Book of Proverbs - wisdom, righteousness, purity and generosity of spirit
Key Questions:


  • What is the book of Proverbs?
    • Who was it written by?
  • What is the purpose of the book?

  • The Ketuvim (writings) of the Tanakh illustrate Jewish Values. A main component of this is the book of Proverbs (written by Solomon) and is called wisdom literature
  • The book is not a group of laws - it is a collection of ethical instructions on how to approach everyday life
  • The central themes of wisdom, righteousness, purity and generosity of spirit are present throughout this book
Summary :The Book of Proverbs was written by Solomon and is a group of ethical instructions regarding how one should approach everyday life. The central themes of wisdom, righteousness, purity and generosity of spirit are observed throughout this book and guide adherents in decision making.


Importance of Ethical TeachingsDescribe the importance of ethical teachings in the lives of adherents
Key Questions:


  • What is the importance of Jewish ethical teachings?


  • Jewish ethical teachings procure a peaceful and successful community and are based upon notions of kindness, loyalty and wisdom.
  • Promotion of goodwill is seen through the various sources of ethical teachings, which ensure a strong Jewish community
  • Ethical teachings are essential to adherents, firstly, as they provide a guide on approaching everyday life and relationships
  • They also help maintain and protect the covenant through obligation to God's word and promise
Summary :Jewish ethical teaching is based upon actions of goodwill, in accordance with the aforementioned sources of teaching. Ethical teachings both maintain the Covenant and guide adherents to approach everyday life and relationships with a mind like God's.


The ShabbatStudents learn to describe the importance of Shabbat
Key Questions:


  • What is the Shabbat?
  • What is the importance of the Shabbat?

  • Shabbat begins at sunset on Friday and concludes at nightfall on Saturday - it is a Jewish representation of the 7th day of Creation
  • The Shabbat is one of the three pillars of Judaism - Jews live out their faith by participating in the Shabbat ritual
    • Also adheres to the commandment of 'remembering and observing the Sabbath Day', which is a day of relaxation and a gesture of respect to God
  • There are 39 categories of work a Jew must abstain from when celebrating the Shabbat.
  • The Shabbat is brought in by lighting 2 candles. Praying forms a crucial role within the Shabbat, as does family time and togetherness
  • Elaborate rituals are performed within the Shabbat, including the Shabbat meal
    • At the beginning of the Friday night and Saturday lunch meals, the Kiddush (sanctification ceremony) is recited over a cup of wine
  • The period of the Shabbat gives the opportunity for adherents to attend the Synagogue and study the Torah.
  • It allows commemoration of the Exodus and meditation on the greatness of God
  • The conclusion of the Shabbat is celebrated with a Havdalah (separation) ceremony. A candle, win and sweet smelling spices are used so the pleasantness of the Shabbat lasts into the week
Summary :The Shabbat refers to a day of rest lasting from sunset on Friday until nightfall on Saturday, remembering and observing God's creation of the world. It is a gesture from God to humanity to relax, and adherents abstain from work and pray, visit the synagogue and study the Torah. The Shabbat is central to Jewish life as it abides by the laws of the Covenant and develops a stronger connection with God through prayer, meditation and reading. In addition, the Shabbat binds family closer together through rituals, meals and ceremonies and unites them in a love for God and His will.
Pranav Sharma
Pranav Sharma
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UNSW Student, site owner and developer.