Understanding the Qur’an

Qur’an as central text of Islamic ritual and belief, national reflection, and transnational exchange for nearly all Muslims. Will examine question of translatability as well as issues of interpretation from non-Muslim, secular or non-theological perspectives. Possible usefulness of analogies to literary critical study of Bible. The Internet as a resource for exploring multiple interpretations by Muslims and non-Muslims. One course.

Classics of the Christian Theological Tradition

Centered on reading and discussion of extracts from important and influential Christian theological writings, which have become “classics” in the Christian tradition. While selections will span the whole of Christian history, more than half will be from the 19th and 20th centuries. Non-English texts will be read in the best existing modern English translations. Gain knowledge in these classical texts and acquire the necessary skills to properly understand, to historically contextualize, and to critically evaluate them. One course.

History of the Christian Church

Crucial events, issues, structures, and writings that have shaped the Christian community and influenced Western civilization from the time of the early church to the present. Special attention to ethical themes such as human destiny, the “good life,” reform and renewal that have been permanent elements in Christian history. One course.

Ethical Issues in Early Christianity

Investigation of two major transitions in the early Christian movement and their impact on the formulation of Christian ethics: Christianity’s transition from a sect within Judaism to a Greco-Roman religious movement whose constituency came largely from the “pagan” world, and its transition from a sect in danger of persecution to a religion favored and supported by Roman imperial authorities.

The Historical Jesus

An investigation of what can be known about Jesus of Nazareth, his teaching about the kingdom of God and ethical behavior, his symbolic acts, and his cures. Principal attention given to the first three gospels, secondary attention to comparative material from the Jewish and Greco-Roman worlds. One course.

Non-Canonical Gospels

Historical-critical study of early non-canonical Christian Gospels, with special reference to the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Peter, the Protevangelium of James, the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Papyrus Egerton 2, Gospel of Mary, Gospel of Judas, Gospel of Philip, Dialogue of the Savior and Secret Mark; their relationship to other early Christian texts, their view of Jesus, their place in early Christianity; questions of authority, canon, canonical-bias, and concepts of heresy and orthodoxy. One course.