Online Learning: World Religions through their Scriptures

Harvard University is devoted to excellence in teaching, learning, and research, and to developing leaders in many disciplines who make a difference globally. You can learn about the history and social impact of world religions through their scriptures with experts representing several of the world’s religious traditions.


HarvardX is a University-wide strategic initiative, overseen by the Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning, to enable faculty to build and create open online learning experiences for residential and online use, and to enable groundbreaking research in online pedagogies.

The study of religion is a rich and fascinating dimension of human experience that includes, but goes well beyond, an exploration of beliefs and ritual practices. Through the lens of scriptures, this Religion XSeries will explore how religions are internally diverse, and how they evolve and change as living traditions that impact, and are impacted, by the cultural, historical, and political contexts of adherents. We will explore issues of interpretation through themes such as gender and sexuality, the arts, violence and peace, science, and power and authority. In addition to learning with and from world-renowned scholars, learners will have the opportunity to interact with peers from around the world representing diverse backgrounds, affiliations, and perspectives.



What you’ll learn:

  • How to understand religion in general, and scriptures in particular, with an emphasis on social and historical context.
  • How “scripture” is defined within each tradition and how those understandings have evolved through time and in differing social and historical locations.
  • The diverse ways that “scriptures” are interpreted within each tradition and how the authority to interpret is determined and negotiated.
  • Diverse manifestations of scripture that include but are not restricted to texts.


Hinduism Through Its Scriptures

Ever wondered about the sacred scriptures that have sustained for millennia one of the oldest and most diverse religions of the world – Hinduism? Want to discover the lessons this history may offer mankind in the 21st century?

This religion course introduces the rich and diverse textual sources from which millions of Hindus have drawn religious inspiration for millennia. The Bhagavad Gita has offered philosophical insights to a number of modern thinkers. This course will introduce important passages from important Hindu sacred texts, their interpretations by moderns and will give you an opportunity to engage with them.

This course in part of the World Religions Through Their Scripture XSeries Program.

Read more here about this course

Diane Moore, senior lecturer and director of the Religious Literacy Project at the Harvard Divinity School, invites you to deepen your “religious literacy” – that is, an understanding of how religion works in its cultural and political contexts. One way to do this is by studying religions through their scripture. Moore’s HarvardX online course, “World Religions Through Their Scripture,” is a series of six modules that explores Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism with world-renowned scholars and thousands of online participants representing diverse perspectives from around the world. Join the global conversation by enrolling in the fourth module, Hinduism Through Its Scriptures, beginning July 5. Read more about Moore’s work at “A religion course for the Internet age.”