GCSE RELIGIOUS STUDIES
Complete Revision Guide For The Grade 9-1 Exams
Welcome to your guide, GCSE Religious Studies is easy. This guide contains everything you need when preparing yourself for GCSE Religious Studies questions on Christianity, Islam, and Judaism!
What is Religious Studies?
As the name suggests, Religious Studies is the discipline of studying the different religions in the world. Within this field, there’s a broad range of topics to cover. These include, but are not limited to:
- The religious texts of a faith (e.g. the Bible, Qur’an, and Torah), interpretation of these texts, and their depictions of God and other prominent religious figures.
- The core theological beliefs of a faith, such as the concept of God, nature of life and death, as well as reality and the universe.
- The evidence that different religions use to substantiate their beliefs (e.g. miracles).
- The way in which faiths deal with topics such as the existence of evil and revelation.
- The moral stances of a religion on numerous issues (e.g. abortion, conflict, crime and punishment, and relationships).
These are all areas which are explored within the Religious Studies GCSE. As you work through your GCSE, you’ll learn about how different faiths interpret their own texts, what they believe about God’s nature, how they prove God’s existence, and how they approach philosophical and moral issues facing us in the modern world.
How Can This GUIDE Help?
In this guide, you’ll learn about three of the major world religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. These are three of the faiths you’ll need to have a strong knowledge of in order to pass your Religious Studies GCSE. In this book, you’ll learn the history of these faiths, their core beliefs, differences between groups within a religion, as well as practices of worship and festivals.
The second section of the guide focuses on religion in practice. The chapters in this section will focus on how different religions interact with the modern world. These areas include:
The Existence of God – This chapter will focus on arguments both for and against the existence of God, as well as the existence of miracles and other supernatural occurrences;
Religion and Life – Here, we’ll discuss how different faiths approach the concepts of life and death, and the nature of the universe. In addition, we’ll take a look at how different religions approach moral questions involving life, such as our obligation to take care of the environment, abortion, and euthanasia;
Religion and Relationships – In this chapter, you’ll learn about how major religions approach topics such as sex, sexuality, marriage, divorce, and contraception;
Religion, War, and Peace – This chapter will focus what each religion believes about conflict, as well as the role that they play in either creating or preventing conflict in the modern world.
The final section of this guide includes top tips for revision and the exam. You’ll learn how to organise your studying, and handle revision and exam stress, and prepare yourself as much as possible for your exams.
Sample Content – Christianity
The primary text of Christianity is the Bible. This book contains all of the most important rules and teachings which Christianity is based on. The Bible is divided into two major books: the Old Testament, and the New Testament.
The Old Testament is a collection of writings from the ancient Israelites. The Old Testament contains some of the most well-known parts of the Bible, such as:
- The Creation Story (The Story of Adam and Eve).
- Noah’s Ark, where God spares Noah, his family, and two of each animal, whilst flooding the rest of the world.
- The Binding of Isaac, where Abraham is tested as God asks him to sacrifice his only son.
- The ten plagues against Egypt, in which Moses frees the Hebrews from slavery under the Egyptians.
- The Ten Commandments, where Moses climbs Mount Sinai and receives the Ten Commandments from God.
There are many more stories within the Old Testament, such as David and Goliath, Cain and Abel, and the Tower of Babel. On top of this, the Old Testament contains poetry and rules.
The Old Testament is divided into the following books:
- Genesis – This includes the Creation Story, the Flood, all the way up to the birth of Joseph.
- Exodus – This mostly focuses on the story of Moses, through God, freeing the Hebrews from Egypt. This also contains the Ten Commandments.
- Leviticus – This book primarily contains a list of rules and laws that the people of Israel should follow.
- Numbers – This book follows the Israelites as they travel from Mount Sinai to Canaan.
- Deuteronomy – This focuses on Moses guiding the Israelites to the Promised Land.
- Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings – These four books focus on the history of Israel as it begins to become a world power.
- Books of Maccabees – These books contain the story of Jewish rebellion against an Ancient Greek family, the Seleucids.
- Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel – These are the twelve major prophets of the Old Testament, who continue to build on the teachings established in the Old Testament.
- Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Psalms, Song of Solomon – Sometimes referred to as the books of wisdom, these include more rules and guidelines, along with poetry which sheds more light on the nature of God.
The second major part of the Bible is the New Testament. This primarily follows the life of Jesus Christ from the perspective of multiple authors. The New Testament consists of the following books:
- The four canonical (accepted by the Church) gospels – The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These four gospels were written by different authors and at different times. While they all focus on Jesus’ life, they don’t always cover the same points in his life. For example, Mark’s Gospel begins at Jesus’ baptism, approximately thirty years into his life.
- Acts of the Apostles – This book follows the apostles as they continue Christ’s work after his death and resurrection.
- Epistles – This book encompasses holy letters, most of which were written by Paul to different churches, people, and other bodies.
- Book of Revelation – This book is an account of the return of Jesus Christ and the apocalypse. This is the final book of the Bible.
While the Bible is one book that all Christians follow, different denominations will prefer different editions and translations. This means that, for example, there will be differences between the Catholic Bible and a Bible which a protestant might use.
Additionally, there have been multiple different translations of the Bible throughout history. While the content mostly remains the same between them, phrasing and terminology will differ. This can also impact the numbering of passages in the Bible that you’re reading. For this reason, it’s important to find out which Bible your GCSE course uses.
Sample Content – Religion and the Universe
The universe is the place in which the entirety of our reality exists. As you can imagine, that makes it rather important for all of the major religions!
The first thing to remember is that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all hold the believe that there is more out there than just the universe. Heaven and Hell, for example, are not believed to exist inside the universe. This means that, when we die, most faiths believe that our souls leave the universe. That said, religions still have a lot to say about the universe we live in!
The current scientific consensus for the origins of the universe is that, billions and billions of years ago, the entirety of the universe was condensed into a miniscule point. Then, this point exploded, giving birth to the universe. This is what is known as the big bang. Over time, the universe has continued to change and expand, populated with a seemingly countless number of stars, planets, and galaxies.
When it comes to the origins of life, the scientific view is that all creatures on Earth, and probably the entire universe, developed slowly over time. When life on Earth was in its early stages, lifeforms would have been incredibly simple and tiny. As these creatures reproduced, random changes in their genetic material would have created new traits. The creatures with traits which helped them survive would go on to reproduce, and over time more traits would develop. Eventually, the microorganisms from millions of years ago would evolve into the animals that we have today – including human beings! This process is known as evolution by natural selection.
While these scientific explanations for the origins of the universe and life are accepted by many, religions still maintain their own beliefs about life and the universe’s beginnings. Sometimes, these beliefs are complementary to scientific understanding. In other cases, they are directly contradictory. Let’s take a look at what Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have to say about the origins of life and the universe.
Christianity and the Universe
According to Genesis, everything was created by God in six days. If taken literally, this directly contradicts the scientific facts about the universe: it took billions of years to get to where we are now, not six days!
Some Christians take everything in the Bible literally. Known as ‘literalists’ or ‘fundamentalists’, these Christians genuinely believe that God created the world in six days, which usually means that they do not believe in evolution or the big bang. Some of these Christians go a step further, and argue that the scientific evidence for evolution and the big bang are incomplete. Therefore, these theories cannot be trusted.
However, not all Christians literally interpret Genesis. Many Christians see it as symbolic: the exact details of how God created the world aren’t important. Instead, what’s important is what the story tells us about God. For example, the creation story in Genesis shows that God created human beings in His image and likeness. You might not have to literally accept the details of the story to accept that humans are special and created by God.
Interestingly, many great scientists and philosophers have attempted to bridge the gap between religion and science throughout history. Isaac Newton, for example, used his understanding of the solar system to try and find out the precise date when Jesus was born!
Ultimately, there is no single accepted way of interpreting the creation story in Genesis. Some Christians believe that God literally created the world in six days, which means that the big bang and evolution are not true. Other Christians believe that the creation story is symbolic, and therefore their Christian beliefs about God and scientific consensus can co-exist.
GCSE RELIGIOUS STUDIES IS EASY: CONTENTS
• Prepare for your GCSE Religious Studies the easy way!
• How your assessors will mark you what you MUST learn to score highly;
• Exam-style practice questions to ensure you know what to expect and how you should be answering questions to ace your grade; • Detailed answers to all the questions;
• Designed for the 9-1 grade course;
• A unique guide that breaks down topics and key elements into an easy-to-absorb format.
• Learn more and pass your GCSE Religious Studies with ease!
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