JSIS B 472
Topics vary. Recommended: one early Christian history or literature course.
One of the most significant figures in first century Christianity was Paul of Tarsus. Indeed, some have gone so far as to claim him as the founder of Christianity. Paul’s dynamic and challenging sense of mission resulted in his extensive founding of Christian communities. Within the social network of these communities, he entered heated debates with competing Christian leaders/groups regarding the social and theological identity of Christianity. Paul’s most obvious impact, however, is his significant literary output. Indeed, most of the New Testament is comprised of his letters, or letters written in his name. This course offers an introduction to Paul, his letters and his legacy. Our exploration will focus on three aspects of Paul and his legacy: reconstructing the historical Paul (who was he, when did he live, how was he portrayed in Acts?); exploring Paul and his communities through his letters (as primary sources, this will be the focus of the course); and how Paul was used by other early Christian writers (e.g., letters written in his name, narrative and apocalyptic use of Paul as an authoritative figure into the second century, etc). Our focus in this course will be upon reading the primary texts in English translation, using assigned secondary readings (supplemented by lectures) as a background for reading these texts. A mixture of lecture and discussion will frame this course.
Student learning goals
At the end of this course, the student will be able to: Demonstrate a clear understanding of who Paul was in the formation of early Christianity
Discuss the key theological motifs that can been discerned in the Pauline texts
Exegete Pauline texts using historical, epistolary, source, and rhetorical analysis
Locate Paul and his communities within the historical and social milieu of the first century
• Critically evaluate arguments on issues of authenticity and pseudonymity of the letters of Paul Appreciate and discuss the diverse constructions of Paul as a figure for early Christian communities
Discuss various scholarly positions on key interpretative issues in the study of the Pauline tradition
General method of instruction
This course will be framed around lectures (approx. 1/3) and seminar discussion (approx. 2/3). The lecture component will offer background information on the primary texts, including, e.g., points on geography, culture, textual questions, dating, and authorship. The lecture component of the course will be conducted through the course webpage through Power Point lectures. There will also be an online discussion forum for engaging these lectures (or comments/questions arising from other course material). The seminar component will be held in class twice a week. Students will be expected to be prepared to enter into a group discussion on those thematic questions circulated in advance.
Class assignments and grading
1. Daily Preparation for Class – 40% (Due – Beginning of Designated Class 2. Book Review– 30% (Due TBA)
3. Research Paper – 30% (Outline Due TBA; Final Version Due TBA) A research paper on an approved topic dealing with the Pauline material (suggested topics will be supplied, but the student is free to choose another topic in consultation with the instructor). The paper should be approximately 10 to 15 pages in length, typed, double spaced, with full bibliographic references (approx. 2800 to 4200 words exclusive of bibliographic references). I am happy for you to write beyond this length if you wish, and if the topic warrants the extra space. This assignment will be divided into two parts: (1) A detailed one to two page outline (with a clear proposal, research question, tentative outline, and bibliography) (worth 10%). This outline will help me guide you in your research and to ensure that the project can be done in the time we have. (2) The final paper (worth 25%). I am happy to go over drafts of your paper prior to final submission. Such a draft read will not impact your grade, but hopefully it will help you as you polish the paper.