This course serves two main functions: the first of these is to provide an introductory sense of what is involved in the academic study of religion; the second, which will occupy almost the whole term, is to discuss the major religious traditions of the Near East, with emphasis on the development and major structures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The course will keep two foci in view: one will have to do with the historical development of these religious traditions, their sacred texts, and major personalities; the second will involve a comparative view of these traditions by analyzing their sense of the sacred in space, time, and text, their views on holy people. This is an introductory course: it is not necessary for students to have any previous experience in the study of religion. The course consists of three weekly lectures and a discussion group. Writing for the course typically involves an essay, a short response paper, a midterm, and a final exam.