Mystery religions

Course Dates: 01/11/23 - 22/11/23
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: Online
Mystery religions were very popular in the ancient world and were organised as voluntary associations. Their popularity is attested in writings and in material culture of the Greco-Roman world. They offered intense religious experiences outside the official, civic religions. The participants were initiated into the mysteries: whilst there is considerable variety in form and content, a belief in a form of salvation was a common denominator of many of these mystery religions. The question of the relationship between the mystery cults and Christianity will also be broached.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Full fee £69.00 Senior fee £69.00 Concession £45.00

This course has now finished

Course Code: RC188

Finished Wed, eve, 01 Nov - 22 Nov '23

Duration: 4 sessions (over 4 weeks)

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What is the course about?

The learning aims fo this course include:
Introducing mystery religions as a concept in the Greco Roman world.
Becoming familiar with some of their main movements and belief systems.
Furthering your knowledge of ancient Greco-Roman religious life.
Deepening your understanding of the variety of religious forms in the ancient world.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

Over the four weeks we will define and study some of the most important mystery religions including and starting with one of the most popular, the mysteries of Eleusis. The orphic rites and their continuation in Dionysus/Bacchic-orphic beliefs. The third session will focus on the role of women in mystery religions. The latter were very popular with Greco-roman women as at a later period, priesthood and various other cultic roles were open to women. Kybele/Magna Mater, and Isis were very popular among women. The last session will focus on Mithra, a popular mystery religion in the Roman Empire.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Demonstrate a deeper understanding of the variety of religious culture in the ancient world.
- Define what ‘mystery religions’ are and how they function in the society in which they originate.
- Build up an awareness of the literary sources and the materiality of the mystery religions.
- Engagement with the continuity and discontinuity of beliefs between mystery religions and other more traditional or emerging new religions (e.g. Christianity).

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The course is open to all who are interested in the subject. An open mind is essential. As this course is taught in English, you should be able to follow verbal and written instructions in English and take part in group discussions.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course will be taught through PowerPoint presentations, class discussion, pair and group work. Reading source material every week is encourage in order to foster active participation.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Resources will be provided and shared in Google Classroom.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

You may be interested in Creation Myths in the Ancient Near East , The Bible between Old and New Testament, Ancient Israelite religion, Sexuality and Gender Roles in Ancient Israel, or Magic in the ancient World.

Ann Jeffers

Dr Ann Jeffers taught Biblical Studies (Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism) at Trinity College Dublin and Heythrop College, University of London for 30 years. She is now Research Fellow at Roehampton University. Her research interests, and publications are in the field of magic and divination in the Bible and the ancient world, feminism and reception history of the Bible mostly in literature and the visual arts. She also belongs to an interdisciplinary research group, ‘Media and Religion’.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.