1. How do Islamic perceptions of Heaven and Hell differ from those of Christianity and Judaism?
Both Islams and Christians believe in the idea of heaven and hell but their perceptions differ a little when it comes to what they actually look like and when they came to be. This Islamic believe that in order to get to heaven one must do an assortment of good deeds to earn the right. Even after completing the acts of good deeds, one may still not make their way into heaven. The Christians believe that one must accept Jesus into their life as their lord in order to get to heaven. The Christian story is one that revolves around a theme of forgiveness much more than that of the The Koran.
2. Although Jesus was a Jew, the religious institutions created in his name proved difficult for Jews to embrace but attractive to Greeks. What elements in the Nativity and the Passion narratives seems particularly and culturally familiar to a pagan audience?
The Nativity story is revolving around December 25th or the winter equinox. This is to allow an easier transition from being a pagan to christian. The four stories of the Nativity in the new testament are all slightly different but non are in argument with one another. Parts of the Nativity and Passion narratives that are close in relation to the pagan audience are the basic ideas such as the manger and wise men in the Nativity story, or the death and resurrection in the Passion story. These types of things were used in Pagan literature especially when referring to gods.
3. Jesus claims the redeemed sinner is more precious to God than the righteous person who never sinned. This implies a conception of God unlike that found in the Old Testament or in The Iliad. How does this emphasis on human repentance and divine mercy change human relations to God? What different aspects of the divine/human relationships were emphasized in Gilgamesh, or The Iliad?
Through my own journey of faith and religion I have too learned that God knows that we are of sin and he is the ultimate in forgiveness so that we may still have an opportunity to join him after our time here on earth. I think when a human sins but then turns to God for forgiveness he is ecstatic that we have turned to him in our time of need. I think this allows our relation to God the ability to get closer to us as people because instead of being perfect and never having to turn to him, we are now asking for his help, which is what he wants. In the Greek religion and all their crazy/still kind of cool gods, it seems they have a more direct relationships with the people on earth and use the people for their own gain. Or vice-versa, the humans on the ground use the Gods as an excuse or rely on them for anything to happen in a major event.