Category Archives: Week 5

Discussion 5

  1. How do Islamic perceptions of Heaven and Hell differ from those of Christianity and Judaism?

These religions are similar on a broad perspective. Basically follow the laws written, and you will succeed to heaven. However, there is more to it. With Judaism and the Islamic people, they must follow the laws written and the good deeds they do is what gets them in to heaven. It’s not just believing but also following the laws. Furthermore, the amount of good deeds they do in the Islamic culture will grant you more rewards in heaven. On the contrary the Christian religion is very similar but, the biggest thing is confession of your sins followed by real repentance. In the Christion religion the good deeds still exist, however spreading the word of God id the most important thing once you’ve accepted Christianity. The Christians are told not to live in the flesh of the world and to live for God. With the Christians there is no extra rewards for you in heaven based on what you’ve done on earth like the Islamic.


  1. 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?

Similar to Achilles, Jesus was born from a woman that God impregnated. The Greeks are familiar with this type of divine intervention. Making it easier to accept. The Jews rejected Jesus as the messiah because he did not fit all of their criteria of the returning messiah and he was born with no wealth or power. There is debate today about the prophecies that the Jews expected to be fulfilled when the messiah returned. One portion of the debate is whether or not the prophecies were supposed to be fulfilled when Jesus came the first time, some believe once they are all fulfilled he will return again.


  1. 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?

My answer to this is going to be a little bit pieced out. I will say that I am no theologian, however my father is a non-domination Christian pastor, so I have a relatively decent understanding of the old and new testament.

I would first argue that precious is an inaccurate word in this question, to elaborate, God has an equal love of everyone that follows him and for those that don’t. However, god loves to see a son repent and turn towards him. Now this doesn’t make him more precious but, it is a joyful moment to see a son return or turn to him.

Also God is in my opinion establishing a point. The emphasis is being put on repentance of sins. Saying that someone who has never sinned isn’t any better off than someone who just recently turned to God, unlike is the Islamic culture where you earn higher statue that way. Moreover, I think is trying to show he loved when any person chooses to accept him, and it brings great joy in heaven.

The New Testament and The Koran


1.The Islamic perceptions of Heaven and Hell are much the same of the views of Christianity and Judaism. Christianity and Judaism put importance on belief in religion and repentance when you sin. Whereas, with the Islamic religion they put importance on those two things as well as the belief that you must do good things in order to make up for committing sins. Also the Islamic belief does not guarantee that you get into heaven even if you repent. In Christianity and Judaism you are guaranteed a place in heaven.


2.I think that the element of the virgin birth is the most prominent of the elements in the narratives that are culturally familiar to a pagan audience. The Greeks liked Jesus and his stories because they were very familiar with stories of people who were half human and half God.


  1. I think that the emphasis on human repentance changes the relationship with God because it shows that a person is really committed to the religion. I think that a person who never sins knows no different than that, but a person who has sinned and can identify that he/she did something wrong and then ask forgiveness is a very notable action. I think that in Gilgamesh and the Iliad the focus was on revenge and the God’s did not move the focus away from that and instead to forgiveness.

Discussion 5

1. How do Islamic perceptions of Heaven and Hell differ from those of Christianity and Judaism?

Between these religions, there are a few differences between the perceptions on heaven and hell. With Christianity and Judaism they believe in the sanctity where as long as you believe in god you will be accepted into heaven. Islam on the other hand one will not get into heaven that way unless their actions allow it as well. Heaven is described as a place of pleasure and happiness through all three religions and hell is described as a place of torture and despair. The only difference is how you get in.

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?

Almost all “unreal” elements from the Nativity and passion narratives can be related and culturally familiar to Pagan audience. A prime example would be the birth of Jesus coming from a virgin. That is an unworldly aspect because, well… we all know where babies come from.

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?

Asking for forgiveness from God is showing that you truly believe. This is why I think Jesus claims the redeemed sinner to be more precious. They have learned from their mistakes and are asking for forgiveness and giving themselves to God. In Gilgamesh and the Iliad have the Greek gods that warriors would pray to for power in their wars or sailing on the oceans. The difference was rather than just one God to pray to they had many gods for different occassions.

The New Testament; The Koran

1)  From the readings of the Koran, I learned that there is essentially little difference if any between Islam versus Judeo/Christian beliefs regarding the presence of an afterlife. There are however some fundamental differences that deserve attention. Before looking at those differences, it is helpful to first identify the similarities of these three religious belief systems.   All three belief systems derive their beliefs from the Hebrew texts (which are referred to as the Old Testament in the Holy Bible) of Genesis, Exodus, etc. Christianity departs from Judaism with the birth of Christ and the Christian belief that Jesus is the son of God, and through Jesus Christians follow God’s will as learned from Jesus’ teachings before his crucifixion and resurrection unto heaven. The four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John henceforth wrote of Jesus’ time on Earth and about his teachings, for they are the way to deliver Christians to eternal salvation. Their respective books gave rise to the Biblical New Testament and represent the cornerstone of Christianity following. Judaism differs from Christianity in that Judaism does not believe Jesus was the son of Christ. This leads to a radical departure of beliefs between these two religions. Islam, like Christianity, believes in Jesus and his teachings, but Islam is of the opinion that Christianity is mistaken for believing Jesus is the son of God and a vessel through which they will be delivered into heaven. Islam teaches that there is only one almighty God, and through God alone Muslims must strive to live righteously in accordance with the Koran so they will join God and all his prophets (amongst them Jesus and Muhammad) in heaven (often referred to as Paradise). Strikingly, the Koran states that all nonbelievers of Islam, the last true teaching of God and God’s will, will be destined for Hell. Christians and Jews fall into this category of non-believers.

2)  Regarding the Nativity (birth of Jesus) and Passion (death and resurrection of Jesus), we see some similarities in some of the books we have come to know from our readings of earlier Greek literature. In Luke 2, we find the reference of “an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone about them, and they were afraid with a great fear” (889). The angel also prescribed the name of Jesus before he was born. These references of angelic intervention from the Lord appearing before the shepherds of Bethlehem have an overtone similar to an appearance of Poseidon (or one of the other lesser gods of Zeus) in The Illiad.

Following the death of Jesus on the cross, the book of Matthew 27 mentions “tombs open[ing] and many bodies of the holy sleepers [rising] up,” as well as a great earthquake (901). The response from the Roman company commander and the guards who were charged with watching over Jesus became a sense of terror. This response can be compared to the Greek displeasure of Apollo’s wrath in Book I of The Illiad, “who aimed his needle-tipped arrows at the men [and] shot until the death-fires crowded the beach” (177).

For where this message may serve as a departure from the teachings of the Tanakh and the Jews, emphasis can be shifted over to the book of Exodus 19-20. Here, Moses scribed the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai for the Israelites’. It was clear that God meant to speak only to Moses, for from the bottom of the mountain the Israelites” exclaimed, “Speak you with us that we may hear, and let not God speak with us lest we die” (124). In summary, what can be seen is a more direct relationship meant for everyone to see and hear stemming from Jesus in the writing of the Gospels, and a more indirect way of teaching passed down by God through the prophets to the Jews.

3)  This paraphrase, to which Jesus was referring to in terms of the redeemed sinner, means that in the eyes of God, repentance is equal to the saving of a life. Whereas the righteous person who does not sin is good and worthy in the eyes of the Lord, he is also already on the path to being saved. Jesus maintains that God wants all mortals to fear him and bow down before him as a means of ascending to Heaven. Therefore, life is merely a test, and one’s place on Earth bears no connotation to whether or not they will be saved in eternal life. Where this pans out in my mind as well as that of The Norton Anthology’s composers is spelled out on page 888 of the text; “All human beings were on an equal plane in the eyes of their creator. This idea ran counter to the theory and practice of an institution basic to the economy of the ancient world, slavery.” Whether we are talking about the Jews, Greeks, Romans, or any other peoples’ of this particular time, what is common throughout is a relationship with one particular God or another primarily through a pivotal figure or prophet. In my opinion, the advent of Christianity and the associated following of Jesus’ teachings brings the first and best opportunity to address the four functions of mythology as well (reference lesson 1).

The New Testament and the Koran

1. Well, first of all, how one gets into Heaven is very different for either. In the Islamic religion, one must acknowledge Muhammad as Allah’s prophet and denounce Jesus as God. On the other hand, Christianity believes that the only way into heaven is by acknowledging Jesus to be the son of God and God incarnate. By believing that Jesus is God, he thus has the power to grant forgiveness and become the way to Heaven. Another difference is that in Islam, all will be judged as they are “on their knees around the fire of Hell.” “Those who fear Us [will be delivered], but the wrongdoers will be left there o their knees.” This is a very high contrast from the Christian belief that all will account for their actions at the gates of Heaven, when the names of those who wish to enter will be looked up in the Book of Life. If their name is not found, then they will be cast into Hell. Christians believe that everyone is was given the opportunity to enter the Kingdom of God while still alive, but if they rejected him then, then they will have no standing with God and will be Cast out of his presence. So instead of the righteous being delivered from Hell, as in Islam, the unrighteous will be denied access to Heaven.

Another large contrast is the vision of Heaven itself. In the Koran, Heaven is described as a place of multiple gardens with many virgins for those who dwell in them. However, the Bible gives a  detailed description of Heaven in the book of  Revelation. This description describes the presence of God and His perfection being the ultimate of Heaven. There was no mention of God being in Heaven from what I saw in these excerpts of the Koran.

2. Considering Israel was under Roman rule, the pagan audience, at least those that were part of the Roman Empire, would understand the political proceedings. In the Nativity story, would be familiar with the rule of Augustus Caesar and the census taking process and the inconvenience of going where they were from. In the Crucifixion, the legal system is on full display, and the progression from lowest to highest rule would be familiar.

I feel like the attractiveness to Greeks stems from a different place than cultural familiarity. I think that the fact that there was nothing they could relate to made the ideas revolutionary. The Jews grew up with the stories of a coming king and a Savior. The fact that one finally came from a very small town with no flair made it hard for them to believe that he was the One. It was also hard for Jews to give up the law that they had been under for so long, for the idea of mercy and a salvation not based on acts. The Greeks were not brought up with these ideas, so when they were offered a religion that was novel, it was easier for them to abandon their other previous beliefs for these new ones.

3. This changes the relationship from one of the human constantly seeking an unattainable God to one of God bringing himself to the human. Because the righteousness of the man was based on the keeping of the law, it was impossible for anyone to be perfectly righteous. However, repentance is the acknowledgement that one cannot do it themselves and that they will never be righteous. God is pleased by the humble and thus is pleased by those who can own up to their shortcomings instead of those who are constantly striving to be perfect even though they are already marred by sin.

In Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh was friends with a part god. These two were practically equals. This shows that the people of that time viewed deities as those who could be equaled in status, strength, intelligence, etc. In the Iliad, the gods are a bit higher than the humans. The gods were able to help and hurt human lives, but they were not always in the right. This shows that the Greeks viewed themselves as equals to the gods in morality, that is by the human definition of morality, since they believed that morality was a human construct that the gods did not have.

Judeo-Christian God v the Old Gods


Heaven and Hell of both Islamic and Christian are meritocracies, but the merit that qualifies people to get into one or the other is vastly different. Christianity and Judaism require belief and repentance for sins to get into Heaven. The merit is in the belief, not the actions. Islam goes a step further by requiring both belief and good deeds to outweigh bad actions. The merit is in the actions of the believer.


The Virgin Mary was impregnated by a supernatural being. This is well in line with Greek gods creating their demi-god children. Many pagan religions were inclusive and because Jesus was another demi-god to add to the party, he was accepted relatively easily. Judaism, on the other hand, was exclusive and a new element was not as easily incorporated, especially considering how much of the core mythology of Jewish culture involves God punishing people for not unquestioningly worshiping.


In Gilgamesh and the Illiad, there were intermediate states between gods and humans (eg Gilgamesh and Achilles) and the space between full gods and full mortals was less extreme. Most gods weren’t omnipotent and none had full power over the workings of the world. They and demi-gods were involved in human life on a personal scale; they got mad at humans, had quarrels with each other over human affairs, and fell in love with and cared for human life. The Judeo-Christian god, on the other hand, is a relationship represented in a simultaneously more internal and distant way. Judeo-Christian god does not interfere as directly, he sends signals and causes catastrophes. His fights with other supernatural beings don’t usually get humans caught in the crossfire – mostly because there aren’t too many other supernatural beings to bicker with. The gods in Gilgamesh and Illiad don’t care about the beliefs or motivations of humans, whereas Judeo-Christian god cares almost exclusively about belief and motivations of individual humans.

The New Testament, The Koran

1.   The differences of perceptions of Heaven and Hell between Islam, Christianity and Judaism, is not so much the type of place, but rather the conditions required to get there.  For the Islamic believers, the conditions required to go to Heaven are dependent on both, having faith and performing the moral laws and actions described in the Koran.  This is also true for the Judaism, except that the moral laws are described in the Torah, although very similar, from what I read for this class.  Even the stories of certain characters, such as, Joseph and Noah were pretty much the same in the old Testament and in the Koran.  In the Islam religion, Islamic believers cannot be friends with Jews and Christians, although they accept that the Torah is a divine scripture through which God made a covenant with the Israelites.  For them, believing that Jesus is also God is a blasphemy, as opposed to Christians, for which not confessing that Jesus is God will send you automatically to Hell.  In the Koran, it seems that there is an inequality of sexes, with regards of treatment, and punishment for the sinner.  For example, males that commit fornication can be forgiven if they repent, but females cannot have the right to repent.  This is not the case in the Old and New Testament, in which both females and males are punished equally for their sins, and God simply speaks to a nation, and not to a specific sex.  In Christianity, the believers not only have to obey the moral laws of the New Testament and tenth commandments of the Old Testament, but also have to forgive anyone that sins against them.  This is different from Judaism and Islam, for which is “eye for an eye.’  Christians must love their enemies, as well as the humanity, in the same way you are supposed to love yourself.  The Christian religion demands more characteristics of compassion, love, faith in the unseen, and sacrifice of the human ego.  It is more centered in trying to deliver the message of Jesus through all world, which is of love, mercy, justice and repentance.  For the Christians, as long as you truly are repentant of your sins, you can go to Heaven, the faith and intentions of the heart are more emphasized than mere actions.  This is incongruent with both, Islam and Judaism, for which performing the law is more important to go to Heaven, than your truly intentions and the type of person you are.

2.   Having to believe all the way to the end, and doing your actions with a pure heart, is harder than doing something for the sake of it, no matter what are your intentions and what are your true beliefs. For that same reason, it was very difficult for the Jews to accept the message of Jesus.  All the sudden, not only what they are doing matters, but also how they do it, what they are thinking and feeling too.  However, this demands were accepted by the Greeks, because they already had to comply with the countless and contradictory requirements of all their gods.  An important element familiar to Greeks, was believing in prophecies.  The prophecies of the nativity of the Messiah and death were known through all this countries, and were very specific, in terms of where the Messiah was going to be born and how.  That a prophecy of such potential was accomplished, was attractive to the Greeks.  The passion of Jesus was also accepted by the Greeks because it set a story in which God’s purpose and sovereignty was established and nothing could change it, just like they believe that their Gods set the purpose of mankind.  The act of sacrifice of Jesus and his forgiveness for the Jews and humankind, was an element of heroic act, one very praised in Greek literature; even Pilatos declared the innocence of Jesus.  To me, this was the most attractive of all elements to the Greeks.  After all, who would not want to serve a God that forgives even the most outrageous acts of humankind?

3.   The emphasis on human repentance and divine mercy is not only emphasized in the New Testament, but also in the Old one.  Throughout many books, prophets called the Nation for repentance.  Many times God established new pacts with Israel, and many times God forgave the sins of the Nation.  God forgave David sons that committed outrageous acts, such as serving idols that require the Nation to sacrifice their own children to those idols.  God forgave them, to honor the pacts that he had done with his father, David.  God forgave David for committing adultery and homicide the husband of such woman.  God also forgave the country Ninive when he sent Jonah to give them prophecy about their destruction, because the country truly repented themselves.  Even Jonah was mad because God forgave the country, since Jonah had already gave the prophecy of destruction, and thus, it made him look like an idiot.  After Jesus, the human relation to God was more closer because you did not have to provide with a sacrifice for God to forgive you of your sins.  The sacrifice of Jesus was once and for all humanity and perfect so that you only had to believe to be forgiven.  In the Iliad and in Gilgamesh, there is no repentance and divine mercy from the gods.  Whatever the gods want, and who they favor, is all it matters.  The gods favor Gilgamesh and made Enkidu pay for the mistakes of both.  The gods had no mercy.  In the Iliad, each god manipulated the circumstances to their advantage and favor the character they liked the most.  Even though Hector serve them the way they wanted, his life was not forgiven, and Achilles life was favored.  In the Old and New Testaments, God has no favorites, he is equal to everybody and wants everyone to go to Heaven.  I cannot wait to be in a place, in which everyone has good intentions, they truly care for me and live in peace.

Lesson 5

Christianity and Islam are very similar in their beliefs of Heaven and Hell. Both believe that if you lead a righteous life and are true to God that you can ascend into Heaven. Or if you are wicked you are punished to Hell. The biggest difference between Islam and Christian beliefs of Heaven and Hell is how someone may enter Heaven, and how they are rewarded. For Muslims the highest spot in Heaven is reserved for Muhammad, and that based on your good deeds you will be rewarded better or worse than others when you enter Heaven. This also means not only do you have to accept Allah into your life, you also have to be practice the teachings of Muhammad and exhibit them in your everyday life. The more you are able to reflect the prophet the higher level of Heaven you can achieve. This in contrast to Christian belief that it’s important we praise sinners who repent and accept them and praise them, just as a shepherd praises the return of his lost sheep.

The idea of a virgin birth caused by God would be appealing to a Greek audience as they were very accustomed to half-gods or even demi-gods, and it brought the idea of a Christian God into the physical world at the same time. The three shepherds who are visited by the angel would also give the Greek audience a more direct link to divine power they desire, making Christianity that much easier to accept.

I believe the fact that God accepts even those that have sinned into his heart very important to the people at the time. They were no longer looking for answers to everyday things that the Greek and Roman gods could give but rather a spiritual answer. The fact that Greek and Roman gods squabbled about human events made them seem very mortal in their own sense. Being able to accept an omnipresent God into their life would serve to strengthen the people’s relation to God because no longer are peopling about invoking God’s wrath, but rather seeking his guidance. Making it easier for people to trust in and God and practice his teachings.


Islamic, Christianity, and Judaism all believe in a God, and a heaven and hell, and are sometimes grouped together as “Abrahamic Religions’ because of their references to Abraham in the Hebrew Bible. Islam and Christianity both believe that hell is a place for people who don’t accept God, or Allah into their lives, and that heaven is a place for morally righteous people who’ve accepted God and done good deeds. Judaism, however, believes Jesus was a false prophet, and they also believe in reincarnation, or in some regions of no afterlife at all, whereas in Islam and Christianity are eternal heaven/paradise.

Jesus was attractive in idea to the Greeks because of the similarity to the epics of the Iliad and Gilgamesh. Some of these guys were half-god, so the idea of a virgin birth was understandable to them. Also, Jesus follows a heroes journey, full of atonement and temptation and other traits very culturally familiar to the epics.

The Gods show up in the Iliad, and Gilgamesh. This emphasis on human repentance changes human relations with god in the way that if someone sins, it is not too late to accept God into their life. This created the demographic of followers and thus a more widespread belief. Enkidu created by a god to show Gilgamesh humility. Gilgamesh himself was created by the gods. In Homer’s Illiad, Gilgamesh, and the Odyssey, the gods all show up, yet these epics take place in real, nonfictional places, such as Troy(present day Turkey), and the Mediterranean, and Egypt. In the case of Gilgamesh, he was kind of a bad guy in the beginning, but Enkidu, created by a god, was sent to Gilgamesh to test him and also become his friend. Gilgamesh could then accept the gods if he wanted to, even after pillaging newly wedded women and killing people. Lots of unique relationships are presented in these epics.

Lesson Numero Cinco

1. How do Islamic perceptions of Heaven and Hell differ from those of Christianity and Judaism?

Like any other religions and beliefs, they are different in beliefs. Within Christianity and Judaism, there are differences in their beliefs, what Heaven really is and how one can make themselves in God’s good graces and how they stay that way in order to get to Heaven. Unlike the latter two, Islam does not believe in salvation. Christianity believes that Jesus knows as humans we do bad, think impure thoughts and sometimes act them…but even the most dirty soul can repent and Jesus will look favorably on that. With this, one can believe and you can earn your way into Heaven. In Islam, even if you did the best, most humble things through out your life, that is still no guarantee you would make it into Heaven.

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?

So, paganism is defined as any person belonging to a religion that is not   Christian. Or a religion that has more than one god, like Ancient Greece or Rome. The only thing that could have been familiar to the pagan audience was the fact that the birth of Jesus was to a good, ordained girl. She was a virgin and so this would be of a supernatural happening. Kind of like how Achilles was part god. Pagans liked to hear about people being born in high, rich environments not like Jesus’s lowly birth in a barn.

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?

I’m going to get a little bit more personal here, as I lay out some daily thoughts of m continuing journey of my faith. I feel like Jesus accepts us as sinners and I know the Bible says that we were created in Him. But He is not sinner. A lot of people are not born and realize, “This is exactly what I should be doing to get to Heaven”. So I feel like the relationship that Jesus says a sinner who has obtained forgiveness and has repented is more precious. The sinner realizes he or she was wrong through the teachings of Jesus and comes into a different life and light.

In the Iliad, for example the gods weren’t just looking for humans to seek forgiveness, they wanted revenge on the person that did wrong against them. The gods also has favorites in the Iliad and came to directly to the people.