SACRED SIGNS MINI-ASSIGNMENT
Purpose And Procedure
Probably all religions make at least some use of sacred signs. This is not surprising. Symbols are perhaps an inherent part of the collective rituals that are a component part of faith systems. Moreover, religion often involve deep matters that cannot easily be addressed in words alone. This small assignment asks you to research the history and meaning of selected sacred symbols.
1) Pick at least three of the symbols listed below (you can also substitute or add on your own choices). This is designed as a small project and it will be possible to excel at it by offering particularly insightful analyses of three symbols. Students are encouraged, however, to write about more than three symbols if they so choose.
2) Research the history of each symbol. Here are some questions you may want to consider:
What role does this sacred symbol play in one or more of the world's religions?
What is the history of the symbol? How do you explain its origins? How and why did its iconographic representation and meaning change over time?
If the symbol has meaning in more than one religion, how would you compare and contrast these? Is there evidence of direct influence between the religions or does instead the symbol seem to have a certain archetypal quality?
3) For each symbol, include at least one picture and at least one paragraph of description/analysis. For very general symbols, such as the sun, you can choose either to write about the symbol in a broad comparative context or to limit your discussion to one or more specific religions. I recommend a tightly focused write-up of between one and two pages per symbol.
4) Add a "CONCLUDING THOUGHTS" paragraph or two at the end of your "guidebook."
5) Formal references are not required for this exercise, though I expect all the work included to be in your own words. Please include an informal bibliography with this project of important URLs consulted.
6) Put together a small Powerpoint that complements your mini-essay. This should combine both images and text and can draw from your written work. It should feature one, two, or all three of your symbols. A number of the Powerpoints will be shared with the class as a whole.
Ark of the Covenant
Five, The Number
Four, The Number
Nine, The Number
Seven, The Number
Star and Crescent
Star of David
Tree of Life
Yin and Yang