Religious Studies 440: Jesus
Nicholson Hall, 314 (867-5407)
Course Homepage: http://people.stfx.ca/mymacdon/RELS440.htm
***For questions concerning course content or assignments contact professor by phone, stop by during office hours, or make an appointment. Please do not use e-mail for these purposes.
The course examines the answer, developed over centuries by the Christian Church, to the question associated with Jesus in the synoptic Gospels: "Who do you say I am?" The class will study the beginnings of the answer as found in the letters of Paul and the four canonical Gospels. Particular attention will be paid to recent writings on the historical Jesus.
Three hours a week. Attendance to all classes is COMPULSORY. Check the regulations in the 2008-2009 Academic Calendar, p.13, Item 3.7 with respect to class attendance and course withdrawal. Note that the University has a strict policy with respect to attendance: “Students are expected to attend all classes and laboratory periods. Following an absence more than one class, students should contact each professor or instructor. In the case of sudden emergencies requiring an absence of more than five days, students should contact the Dean’s office. Faculty are required to report to the Dean all unexplained absences in excess of three hours over at least two classes missed in any term.”
Out of consideration for your fellow classmates and the instructor, please do not be late for class. Persistent lateness will be brought to your attention.
A seminar format will be employed in this senior course. Students will be expected to come to class ready to comment upon the assigned readings. The professor will facilitate the discussion, but interaction between students will play a large part in the class experience. In addition, students will be required to make oral presentations and lead discussions.
- Selected readings to be indicated during class.
- Papers (7-8 double-spaced typed pages).
- Take-Home exams.
Check the regulations in the 2008-2009 Academic Calendar, p.13, Item 3.8 with respect to academic integrity.
Method of Evaluation (the same for term 1 and term 2):
Paper = 40%
Class Participation (includes submission of discussion questions, seminar leadership, general quality of oral contribution to class discussion) = 20%
Take Home Exam = 40%
Term Grade = 100%
1. Deduction of 2% for every day that a term paper is late unless a doctor's certificate is provided.
2. Computer failure or error will not be accepted as an excuse for late papers or assignments. The penalty for late work as described above will be applied.
3. Students are required to keep copies of all submitted assignments in case of the unlikely event that an assignment is lost.
4. Seminar leadership must take place on assigned date. It will only be rescheduled in the case of severe illness supported by a doctor’s certificate.
5. Discussion questions must be submitted during class. There will be a deduction of one point from class participation grade (one out of 20) if discussion questions are not submitted during the class. Late submissions will not be accepted.
6. Papers will not be accepted after the final day of classes in each term.
7. Papers and assignments must be submitted to me in hardcopy. E-mail attachments are not acceptable even as proof that the work was completed on time. Papers should be submitted during class or handed in to the secretary for Religious Studies who will date and sign your paper to indicate time of receipt.
Gerd Theissen, The Shadow of the Galilean.
Ben Witherington, The Jesus Quest.
Richard A. Horsley, Jesus and Empire.
The Bible (The New Revised Standard Version).
Note: Other readings will be placed on reserve in the library or will be available on line. See course homepage with links to bibliography and additional resources.
4 Sept, Fall Term begins.
13 Oct, Thanksgiving
11 Nov, Remembrance Day.
5 Nov, Paper due
8-17 Dec, Christmas Examinations
5 Jan, Second term classes begin.
23 Feb, Midterm Recess begins
9 Mar, Paper due
13-23 April, Final Examinations
The main focus will be on the "Historical Jesus". Studies of the Historical Jesus are playing an increasingly important role in New Testament scholarship. These studies are interested not so much in how Jesus was understood by believers who were inspired by the resurrection, as in where Jesus fits among the religious figures of his time. Using the tools of the historian, what can be known with some certainty about Jesus? By studying his words and deeds, we will attempt to discern how Jesus understood his relationship to God and his place in God's plan. We will compare the various pictures of the historical Jesus that have emerged in recent years such as Jesus, the itinerant philosopher, or Jesus, the Jewish eschatological prophet. We will also consider how current scholarly constructions of Jesus reflect the preoccupations of the modern university. What has been the impact of the Jesus seminar? How have such theoretical frameworks as the use of social-scientific models and feminist analysis affected Jesus scholarship?
Building upon a study of the Historical Jesus, we will also study how the identity of Jesus is presented in the various New Testament writings. We will be especially interested in how Jesus stands in relation to God and how he figures in notions of the divine plan. We will discuss whether the various New Testament writings are consistent in their presentations of Jesus and how these presentations relate to the evaluations of Jesus which are alive in Christianity today and which continue to shape contemporary culture including film and literature. We will explore the impact of belief in the resurrection in the construction of the identity of Jesus and consider beliefs about the fate of the world (including apocalyptic ideas concerning the end of the world).