Course Memo

This course is co-taught by Mahjabeen Dhala and LeAnn Flesher. This doctoral seminar will explore the diverse ways in which sacred texts are formed,
interpreted, and experienced over time. Among the textual traditions that we will study include
selections from Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim classical canons.
Our methods will include historical-critical and literary studies of these texts and their histories
as well as a study of the hermeneutical principles that have guided their interpretation through
the ages. We will also consider the function of these texts within the communities that regard and
transmit them. This will include an exploration of their theological, contemplative, liturgical,
ritual, pastoral, spiritual, ethical, artistic, and performative modes.
In particular, the seminar will examine several sacred text traditions through the following set of
critical lenses (1) textual production, (2) authorship and composition, (3) canonization and
recension, (4) liturgy and law, (5) translation and commentary, (6) embodiment of texts.
Our course aims to enable you to identify primary aspects of the textual traditions studied, their
material and ritual histories, the mechanisms for the production and interpretation of these
textual traditions, as well as the historical junctures that led to the consolidation of textual forms.
This course is required for doctoral students in the Sacred Texts department.