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Course Number: HUM 103
Course Title: Humanities in the Ancient World
Term: Fall 2017

Fr. Peter Samuel Kucer MSA STD

pkucer@holyapostles.edu

1. COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course is an introduction to the origin and development of the humanities of the pre-Christian world.  Students will be introduced to the various cultures of the ancient world that prepared for the fullness of time when God the Father in his infinite wisdom sent his only begotten son Jesus into the particular human culture of Judaism.

2. ENVISIONED LEARNING OUTCOMES

That standing on the shoulders of the peoples of the ancient world, students will demonstrate through class discussion an awareness of the perennial questions of humanity and a wonder at the creature called “human.”

3. COURSE SCHEDULE

Please note: The reading assignments were designed for you to read the chapter reading first and then my accompanying lecture notes.   In addition, all quizzes and the final exam are open book tests.

Week 1 The Rise of Culture: From Forest to Farm August 28th-September 3rd 

Lecture Sample:

Hellos students, this is Father Peter Samuel Kucer.  I will complement from a Catholic perspective the Pearson’s beautifully put together text book.  If possible, please have your textbook available, for I will be going from page to page commenting on the text.  I encourage you to read critically both the textbooks and my comments.  You are encouraged to question, debate and dialogue with what you read or hear.  I will be doing so as a Catholic theologian.  By reflecting on the text in this manner we will as Catholics wrestle with the perennial questions of humanity, be able to distinguish the radical difference between the pre-Christian and Christian world, and become more appreciative of true beauty.

Readings:

  1. Read Sayre’s Chapter 1
  2. Read Lecture One for Chapter One (See Attachment under Files)

Assignments/Activities/Discussions:

  1. Post your responses to Week 1 Discussion. In addition, respond to at least one student in a quality manner. Please see the “Discussion Post” and “Community Interaction” rubrics at the end of the syllabus.
  2. Take Quiz 1

Week 2 The Rise of Culture: From Forest to Farm September 4th – September 10th

Lecture Sample:

According to virtually all myths (Greek, Roman, Norse, Japanese, Sumerian etc.) the world came out of a primordial chaos.  Eventually Gods began to be formed who then created men and women.  In contrast, according to the Old Testament creation does not come out chaos but rather is created by God who is the exact opposite of chaos, where many different things are constant tension with one another as they clash against each other.  According to the Catholic faith, the differences within God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not in eternal tension with one another but rather through these differences is the greatest unity possible.[1]  Creation, although containing vast differences which at times are in strife with one another, fundamentally bears the imprint of a Creator who is one of order, harmony and peace.  The deep rhythm of the universe which undergirds everything is one of peace and harmony not violence, chaos and disorder.  The noted theologian Fr. Robert Barron in referring to the priority, within God and reflected in what he creates, of order and peace over chaos and strife writes:

Readings:

  1. Continue Reading Sayre’s Chapter 1
  2. Continue Reading Lecture One for Chapter One (See Attachment under Files)

Assignments/Activities/Discussions:

  1. Post your responses to Week 2 Discussion. In addition, respond to at least one student in a quality manner. Please see the “Discussion Post” and “Community Interaction” rubrics at the end of the syllabus.
  2. Take Quiz 2

Week 3 Mesopotamia:  Power and Social Order in the Early Middle East September 11th – September 17th

Lecture Sample:

“Archeologists and historian were especially excited by Wooley’s discoveries, because they opened a window onto the larger region we call Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.  Ur was one of 30 or 40 cities that arose in Sumer, the southern portion of Mesopotamia.” (Sayre, 2012 p. 32)

Readings:

  1. Read Sayre’s Chapter 2
  2. Read Lectures for Chapter 2

Assignments/Activities/Discussions:

  1. Post your responses to Week 3 Discussion. In addition, respond to at least one student in a quality manner. Please see the “Discussion Post” and “Community Interaction” rubrics at the end of the syllabus.
  2. Take Quiz 3

Week 4 Mesopotamia:  Power and Social Order in the Early Middle East September 18th – September 24th

Lecture Sample:

Scholars have pointed out many similarities between The Code of Hammurabi and the Covenant Code of Exodus (20: 23:33 and 34:17-26).  Some argue, and quite convincingly, that the Code of Hammurabi which is thousands of years older than the Code of Exodus and is much more extensive, influenced the biblical formulation of the Covenant Code.  Even if there is a certain truth to this theory, there are very noticeable differences between the two codes.  

Readings:

  1. Continue Reading Sayre’s Chapter 2
  2. Continue Reading Lectures for Chapter 2

Assignments/Activities/Discussions:

  1. Post your responses to Week 4 Discussion. In addition, respond to at least one student in a quality manner. Please see the “Discussion Post” and “Community Interaction” rubrics at the end of the syllabus.
  2. Take Quiz 4

Week 5 The Stability of Ancient Egypt: Flood and Sun September 25th – October 1st

Lecture Sample:

“[A]t Thebes, for instance, the trinity of Osiris, Horus, and Isis gained a special significance.  Osiris, ruler of the dead, was at first a local deity in the eastern Delta.  According to myth, he was murdered by his wicked brother Seth, god of storms and violence, who chopped his brother into pieces and threw them into the Nile.  But Osiris’s wife and sister, Isis, the goddess of fertility, collected all these parts, put the god back together, and restored him to life.  Osiris was therefore identified with the Nile itself, with its annual flood and renewal.  The child of Osiris and Isis was Horus, who defeated Seth and became the mythical first king of Egypt.  The actual, living king was considered the earthly manifestation of Horus (as well as the son of Re). When the living king died, he became Osiris, and his son took the throne as Horus.  Thus, even the kingship was cyclical.” (Sayre, 2012, p. 68-69)

Readings:

  1. Read Sayre’s Chapter 3
  2. Read Lectures for Chapter 3

Assignments/Activities/Discussions:

  1. Post your responses to Week 5 Discussion. In addition, respond to at least one student in a quality manner. Please see the “Discussion Post” and “Community Interaction” rubrics at the end of the syllabus.
  2. Take Quiz 5

Week 6 The Stability of Ancient Egypt: Flood and Sun October 2nd – October 8th

Lecture Sample:

““Do not utter thoughtless words when you sit down with an angry man.  …  When an official sends you a messenger, then say what he said.  Neither take away nor add to it…  See, I have placed you on the path of God…  See, there is no scribe lacking sustenance, (or) the provisions of the royal house…Honor your father and mother who have placed you on the path of the living.” (Sayre, 2012, p. 93.

Readings:

  1. Continue Reading Sayre’s Chapter 3
  2. Continue Reading Lectures for Chapter 3

Assignments/Activities/Discussions:

  1. Post your responses to Week 6 Discussion. In addition, respond to at least one student in a quality manner. Please see the “Discussion Post” and “Community Interaction” rubrics at the end of the syllabus.
  2. Take Quiz 6

Week 7 The Aegean World and the Rise of Greece:  Trade, War, and Victory October 9th – October 15th

Lecture Sample:

Around 650 BC Sparta relied on is military to become the most powerful city state in ancient Greece.  From 499-449 Sparta joined forces with Athens and other Greek city states in fighting, and eventually defeating the invading Persians.  Shortly after the war, though, in 431 BC Sparta began fighting with Athens to determine who was the dominate power.  In 404 BC Sparta proved its worth by finally defeating Athens.

Readings:

  1. Read Sayre’s Chapter 4
  2. Read Lectures for Chapter 4

Assignments/Activities/Discussions:

  1. Post your responses to Week 7 Discussion. In addition, respond to at least one student in a quality manner. Please see the “Discussion Post” and “Community Interaction” rubrics at the end of the syllabus.
  2. Take Quiz 7

Week 8 The Aegean World and the Rise of Greece:  Trade, War, and Victory October 16th – October 22nd

Lecture Sample:

     Page 124 of the textbook reads, “Each tribe appointed 50 of its members to a Council of Five Hundred, which served for 36 days.  There were thus 10 separate councils per year, and no citizen could serve on the council more than twice in his lifetime.  With so many citizens serving on the council for such short times, it is likely that nearly every Athenian citizen participated in the government at some point during his lifetime.”[2] 

    This form of governance is often described as one of the first examples of direct democracy in contrast with representational democracy.  What is the difference between the two?  In a direct democracy, as described above, all citizens actively participate in governing.  In a representational democracy, only citizens who have been democratically elected to an office actively participate in governance.  Which form of democracy is the United States of America primarily based on?

Readings:

  1. Continue Reading Sayre’s Chapter 4
  2. Continue Reading Lectures for Chapter 4

Assignments/Activities/Discussions:

  1. Post your responses to Week 8 Discussion. In addition, respond to at least one student in a quality manner. Please see the “Discussion Post” and “Community Interaction” rubrics at the end of the syllabus.
  2. Take Quiz 8

Week 9 Golden Age Athens and the Hellenic World:  The School of Hellas October 23rd – October 29th

Lecture Sample:

After describing how in 490 a huge Persian army under the leadership of Darius was defeated by the Greeks we read on page 135, “Darius may have been defeated, but the Persians were not done.  In 480 BCE, Darius’s son Xerxes led a huge army into Greece.”[3]  Eventually Xerxes also was defeated by the Greeks.  Xerxes is not only a significant person in history but is also important biblically.  Traditionally, both in Christianity and Judaism, Xerxes has been identified with Ahasureus who was married to the Esther, the main character in the Old Testament’s book of Esther.  The passage below from the online Jewish Encyclopedia summarizes Xerxes role in relationship to the Jewish people, most notably Esther and her adopted father, Mordecai (Esther 2:7).  The Jewish feast of Purim celebrates the survival of the Jewish people under Persian rule and their escape from being nearly killed after Haman, an advisor to King Ahasuerus, receives permission from the King to kill the Jewish people throughout the Persian Empire.

Readings:

  1. Read Sayre’s Chapter 5
  2. Read Lectures for Chapter 5

Assignments/Activities/Discussions:

  1. Post your responses to Week 9 Discussion. In addition, respond to at least one student in a quality manner. Please see the “Discussion Post” and “Community Interaction” rubrics at the end of the syllabus.
  2. Take Quiz 9

Week 10 Golden Age Athens and the Hellenic World:  The School of Hellas October 30th –November 5th

Lecture Sample:

Page 139 refers to Hippocrates the “father of medicine.”  Hippocrates still is relevant to today’s medical profession.  Who was he?  Hippocrates (c. 460 - c. 370 BC) was a Greek physician.  He is credited with writing a medical code called the Hippocratic Oath.  Even though there is no legal obligation to do so, the Hippocratic Oath is still taken today by doctors who have recently graduated from medical school.  Currently, around 50% of British medical students take the oath and 98% of American medical students take it.[4]  See below for the original Hippocratic Oath and compare it with the modern American version.  What are the differences between the original and the “up-to-date” versions?  Why are they different?  Do you agree with the changes, why or why not?  Pay attention to the parts in bold.

Readings:

  1. Continue Reading Sayre’s Chapter 5
  2. Continue Reading Lectures for Chapter 5

Assignments/Activities/Discussions:

  1. Post your responses to Week 10 Discussion. In addition, respond to at least one student in a quality manner. Please see the “Discussion Post” and “Community Interaction” rubrics at the end of the syllabus.
  2. Take Quiz 10

Week 11 Rome: Urban Life and Imperial Majesty November 6th – November 12th

Lecture Sample:

Readings:

  1. Read Sayre’s Chapter 6
  2. Read Lectures for Chapter 6

Assignments/Activities/Discussions:

  1. Post your responses to Week 11 Discussion. In addition, respond to at least one student in a quality manner. Please see the “Discussion Post” and “Community Interaction” rubrics at the end of the syllabus.
  2. Take Quiz 11

Week 12: Urban Life and Imperial Majesty November 13th – November 19th

Lecture Sample:

Even if when Constantine ordered his troops to place on their shields the Greek letters chi and rho he intended the letters to signify good this does not mean that he did not also intend for the chi and rho to point to Christ who is the source of all goodness.  Please read the quotation below from the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on the name of Christ, Christian, and goodness as used before and during the time of Constantine’s reigns.  When reading the passage, begin to answer the following question.  How can the letters chi and rho that Constantine placed on the troops of Constantine before the famous Battle of the Milvian Bridge be understood as denoting both goodness and Christ?

Readings:

  1. Continue Reading Sayre’s Chapter 6
  2. Continue Reading Lectures for Chapter 6

Assignments/Activities/Discussions:

  1. Post your responses to Week 12 Discussion. In addition, respond to at least one student in a quality manner. Please see the “Discussion Post” and “Community Interaction” rubrics at the end of the syllabus.
  2. Take Quiz 12

Week 13 Other Empires:  Urban Life and Imperial Majesty in China and India November 20th – November 26th

Lecture Sample:

Page 228 states, “The Upanishads argue that all existence is a fabric of false appearances.  What appears to the senses is entirely illusory.  Only Brahman is real.”[5]  The Upanishads (800 and 400 B.C) are ancient texts of the Hindu religion.  Brahman is an impersonal being which is manifested in a variety of ways.  According to the Upanishads, Brahman is the source of all things and is in all things.  Below is a famous Hindu Sanskrit poem attributed to Adi Shankara (788-820 AD) that develops the Upanishads’  concept of Brahman.  While reading the excerpts, try to distinguish a Christian concept of God from the Hindu understanding of Brahman.  According to Christianity, God is a personal creator, not an impersonal pervasive force, and is distinct but also present to what he has created. In addition, Catholicism rejects soul-good vs. spirit-bad dualism.  Catholicism believes that the soul is the form of the body.  This means that re-incarnation (transmigration of the soul) is rejected by Catholicism which recognizes the body to be an essential part of the person that will be re-united to the soul at the end of time as affirmed in the Nicene-Constantinople Creed.  The Hindu understanding of the soul’s relationship to the body is very different.  Adi’s concept of Brahman, as described by Satinder Dhiman, well brings out this important difference.  “Brahma satyam, jaganmithya, jivobrahmaivanaparah: Brahman alone is real; the world is non-real; and the individual Self is essentially not-different from Brahman.”[6]

Readings:

  1. Read Sayre’s Chapter 7
  2. Read Lectures for Chapter 7

Assignments/Activities/Discussions:

  1. Post your responses to Week 13 Discussion. In addition, respond to at least one student in a quality manner. Please see the “Discussion Post” and “Community Interaction” rubrics at the end of the syllabus.
  2. Take Quiz 13

Week 14 Other Empires:  Urban Life and Imperial Majesty in China and India November 27th – December 3rd

Lecture Sample:

Chapter 7 briefly describes China’s most influential philosopher, Confucious.  To what extent is Confucius’ teaching compatible with Christianity?  This question faced the great Jesuit missionary to China, Matteo Ricci (1552-1610).  The Italian priest Ricci was one of the founding members of the Jesuit’s mission to China during the 17th – 18th centuries.  When spreading the Gospel in China, Ricci became acquainted with Confucian values intertwined with Chinese culture.  To be a more effective evangelizer he began to use Confucian concepts during his presentations of Christianity.  When Dominican and Franciscan missionaries heard of Ricci’s integration of Confucian concepts in explaining the Catholic faith they became concerned.  Eventually, after a number of complaints were received, Rome forbade Ricci to teach the Catholic faith along with Confucianism.[7]  Currently, Ricci’s reference to Confucianism when teaching Christianity is being re-examined as the Catholic Church, after officially recognizing Ricci as a servant of God, is considering Ricci’s cause for canonization.[8]

Readings:

  1. Continue Reading Sayre’s Chapter 7
  2. Continue Reading Lectures for Chapter 7

Assignments/Activities/Discussions:

  1. Post your responses to Week 14 Discussion. In addition, respond to at least one student in a quality manner. Please see the “Discussion Post” and “Community Interaction” rubrics at the end of the syllabus.
  2. Take Quiz 14

Week 15 December 4th – December 8th

Assignments/Activities/Discussions:

4. Course Requirements:

                Quizzes                                25%

                Discussion Posts                        50%

                Final Exam                                25%

5. REQUIRED READINGS and RESOURCES:

6. EVALUATION

Basis of evaluation with explanation regarding the nature of the assignment and the percentage of the grade assigned to each item below). Students who have difficulty with research and composition are encouraged to pursue assistance with the Online Writing Lab (available at http://www.holyapostles.edu/owl).

GRADING SCALE:

A 94-100; A- 90-93; B+ 87-89; B 84-86; B- 80-83; C+ 77-79; C 74-76; C- 70-73 60-69; F 59 and below

Discussion Post Rubric (At minimum 50 word response.)

Points

5

4

3

0

Relevance of Post

Posts topics related to discussion topic; which can prompt further discussion of topic. The discussion post is also grammatically correct and when referring to sources they are cited.

Posts topics are related to discussion content. The discussion post has a few minor grammatical errors and/or sources are not cited.

Posts topics which do not relate to the discussion content; makes short or irrelevant remarks. The discussion post has a number of grammatical errors (run-on sentences, fragments etc.)

No posting

COMMUNITY INTERACTION (50-word response)

0  Points           6.25 Points                12.5 Points       18.75 Points      25 Points

Inadequate response

Response merely provides laudatory encouragement for original post, e.g., “Excellent post! You really have thought of something there.”

Poor response

Response misses the point of the original posting or merely summarizes original posting to which it responds.

Acceptable response

Response makes a contribution to the posting to which it responds.

Individually-conscious contributory response

Response makes a contribution to the posting to which it responds and fosters its development.

Community-conscious contributory response

Response makes a contribution to the learning community and fosters its development.

7. DISABILITIES ACCOMMODATIONS POLICY

Holy Apostles College & Seminary is committed to the goal of achieving equal educational opportunities and full participation in higher education for persons with disabilities who qualify for admission to the College. Students enrolled in online courses who have documented disabilities requiring special accommodations should contact Bob Mish, the Director of Online Student Affairs, at rmish@holyapostles.edu or 860-632-3015. In all cases, reasonable accommodations will be made to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to course materials in a mode in which they can receive them. Students who have technological limitations (e.g., slow Internet connection speeds in convents) are asked to notify their instructors the first week of class for alternative means of delivery.

8. ACADEMIC HONESTY POLICY

Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own.  At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends.

Students, where applicable:

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

Because of the nature of this class, academic dishonesty is taken very seriously.  Students participating in academic dishonesty may be removed from the course and from the program.

9. ATTENDANCE POLICY

Even though you are not required to be logged in at any precise time or day, you are expected to login several times during each week. Because this class is being taught entirely in a technology-mediated forum, it is important to actively participate each week in the course. In a traditional classroom setting for a 3-credit course, students would be required to be in class 3 hours a week and prepare for class discussions 4.5 hours a week. Expect to devote at least 7 quality hours a week to this course. A failure on the student’s part to actively participate in the life of the course may result in a reduction of the final grade.

10. INCOMPLETE POLICY

An Incomplete is a temporary grade assigned at the discretion of the faculty member. It is typically allowed in situations in which the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling, but has encountered extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that prevent his or her doing so prior to the last day of class.

To request an incomplete, students must first download a copy of the Incomplete Request Form. This document is located within the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi. Secondly, students must fill in any necessary information directly within the PDF document. Lastly, students must send their form to their professor via email for approval. “Approval” should be understood as the professor responding to the student’s email in favor of granting the “Incomplete” status of the student.

Students receiving an Incomplete must submit the missing course work by the end of the sixth week following the semester in which they were enrolled. An incomplete grade (I) automatically turns into the grade of “F” if the course work is not completed.

Students who have completed little or no work are ineligible for an incomplete. Students who feel they are in danger of failing the course due to an inability to complete course assignments should withdraw from the course.

A “W” (Withdrawal) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the first week of a semester to the end of the third week. A “WF” (Withdrawal/Fail) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the third week of a semester and on or before the Friday before the last week of the semester.

11. ABOUT YOUR PROFESSOR

Your instructor, Fr. Peter, is most eager to open your minds to the humanities of pre-Christian times.  I hope I will lift your spirits and, with the grace of God, we will mutually grow in wisdom and knowledge of the ancient world.Israel 2012 075


[1] Milbank, The Word Made Strange, Milbank, Religious Dimension vol. 2, 30; 155; Milbank, Theology and Social Theory, 423-430.

[2] Sayre, Humanities, 124.

[3] Sayre, The Humanities, 135.

[4] Dorman, J. (September 1995). "The Hippocratic Oath". Journal of American College Health 44 (2): 84–88. ISSN 0744-8481. From Wikipedia accessed 10/29/2013.

[5] Henry M. Sayre, The Humanities, 228.

[6] Sri Sankara’s Vivekachudamani Devanagari Text, Transliteration, Word-for-Word Meaning, and a Lucid English Translation By Acharya Pranipata Chaitanya (Tiruchengode Chinmaya Mission, Tamil Nadu, India) Revised & Edited, with an Introduction by Satinder Dhiman, Ed.D. p. 6. http://www.arshabodha.org/adiShankara/Vivekachudamani_eBook.pdf accessed 11/04/2013.

[7] http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/112770/Chinese-Rites-Controversy Accessed 11/05/2013.

[8] Catholic World News, Father Matteo Ricci’s Beatification Cause Reopened, http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=5239. Accessed 11/05/2013.