Three Marys at the Tomb of Jesus, Fra Angelico, Fresco at the Convento di San Marco, Florence (1440-41)
In this introduction to Christianity, we will examine the nature of Christianity and Christian self-understanding in its multifaceted world context. After an orientation to the development of Christianity across time, the course will proceed thematically, exploring a range of beliefs and practices in theological, social, cultural, and historical contexts. In examining any given theme, we will consider a variety of approaches to each subject from within Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, and dissenting traditions. The course does not presume a familiarity with Christianity in any of its manifestations, and students can expect to develop an understanding of the religion from a variety of perspectives.
1) to acquire familiarity with the central narratives of Christian tradition and to understand their impact on Christian experience
Elaine Pagels, Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas, (Random House, 2003), ISBN 9780375703164
Mary Jo Weaver and David Brakke, Introduction to Christianity, 4th Edition (2009) ISBN 9780495097266
Saint Augustine, Confessions (Oxford World Classics, Oxford University Press), ISBN 9780199537822
Shusaku Endo, Silence ISBN 9780800871864
New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, 4th Edition (2010) ISBN 9780195289602
OR YOU MAY USE THE NRSV ONLINE AT OREMUS
Copies of required books will be held on reserve in Mugar Library, with the exception of the Weaver & Brakke textbook (Mugar policy does not allow the purchase of textbooks for this purpose).
A number of readings are available in pdf format on the Blackboard site or on the Web linked directly to the course syllabus. While you are welcome to print out a copy of the syllabus for quick reference, you must use the online syllabus in order to locate these readings. Please bring all readings to class on both Tuesday and Thursday each week. You may either print out Web/Blackboard readings or bring your laptop/ipad/tablet to class.
Students are expected to attend all lectures and participate in discussion. Readings are to be completed by the day for which they are assigned. In addition to the readings, there will be two films to view over the course of the semester. You are to view each film before the day we are scheduled to discuss it. There will be a scheduled viewing of each film in the Geddes Language Center; films will be held on reserve at the GLC for individual viewing at your convenience from the Friday before we are to discuss the film. These are readily available films, and you may choose to view them on the Internet, on DVD through Netflix, or the like. Graded work for the class will consist of class participation; one short (3-page) paper analyzing a brief selection of New Testament texts on early Christian communities; a midterm exam; a group project on a Boston Church (Church understood as both building and community), which will involve both a class presentation and a 7-page paper; and a final exam. The grading for the course will be as follows: 10% for class participation, 10 % for the short paper, 20% for the group project, 20% for the midterm and 40% for the final exam. The class participation grade will be based on attendance, thoughtfulness of contributions to discussion (including evidence of having read the relevant texts), and the level of your preparedness and involvement in the course.
If you know you will be unable to attend class due to illness or an emergency, you should make every effort to alert me in advance (or to let me know of the circumstances of your absence as soon as possible) by e-mail or voice mail. More than three unexcused absences during the semester will result in a lowered overall grade in addition to an unsatisfactory class participation grade.
Classroom Etiquette: Out of respect for your fellow students as well as the instructor, please be on time! Late arrivals are distracting. For the same reason, I ask that students only leave the room in the middle of class if it is absolutely necessary. If you know that you will need to leave class early for some reason, please sit near the door and try to exit as quietly as possible. Do check to make sure that your cell phone is off before class starts. If you cannot resist the temptation to "multitask" on your laptop, please leave it at home! We all will appreciate these considerations.
Honesty and Fairness: All students should familiarize themselves with the Boston University Undergraduate Academic Conduct Code. Please see also my plagiarism policy. I value the trust between teacher and student a great deal, and my plagiarism policy reflects the importance of that trust. Please also note that I am required to report all cases of academic misconduct to the CAS Dean's Office.
Make-up Exams: I will only give a make-up exam if a student misses a test because of a medical problem, death in the family, a religious holiday, or official university business. In all cases where you know in advance about a conflict, let me know as soon as possible.
Students with Disabilities: Any student with a documented disability who requires academic accommodations should contact Disability Services as soon as possible to request an official letter outlining authorized accommodations. If you suspect that you may have an undiagnosed disability that is interfering with your success in your coursework, please come see me and I will help direct you to the appropriate resources at BU.
Religious Holidays: Students are entitled to make up work missed because of a religious holiday as long as they make arrangements in advance.
Tuesday 1/17: Getting Started
Thursday 1/19 Reading: Weaver and Brakke, Introduction and Chapter 1
Tuesday 1/24 Reading: Weaver and Brakke, Chapter 2; New Oxford Annotated Bible: Gospel According to Matthew
Thursday 1/26 Reading: New Oxford Annotated Bible: Gospel According to John
Tuesday 1/31 Reading: Weaver and Brakke, pp. 36-43 and 56-66
Tuesday, 2/7 Reading: Elaine Pagels, Beyond Belief, Chapters 1, 2, and 5
Thursday, 2/9 Reading: The Gospel of Thomas
Tuesday, 2/14 Reading: Weaver and Brakke, pp 67-78 and 253-254; The Nicene Creed
Thursday, 2/16 Reading: Weaver and Brakke, pp 79-118; Martin Luther, Treatise of 1520; The Babylonish Captivity of the Church; Statement at the Diet of Worms [Blackboard]; John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion [Blackboard]
Tuesday, 2/21 President's Day-No Class
Thursday, 2/23 **** MIDTERM EXAM ****
Tuesday, 3/6 Reading:New Oxford Annotated Bible: Genesis Chapters 1-3; St. Augustine, Confessions, Books 1-10 (focus especially on pp. 1-15 [ through ch 19]; pp. 24-34; pp. 111-132; and pp. 146 (from "Our lodging had a garden")- 154)
Thursday, 3/8 Reading: William Ellery Channing, Unitarian Christianity sections 4 and 5 only
Film: DEAD MAN WALKING: Showing: 7:00-9:30 pm Wednesday, March 7: Geddes Language Center, CAS Room 537C
also available in the Geddes Language Center for individual viewing from Monday, 3/5.
Dead Man Walking Viewing Guide
Week IX SPRING BREAK: MARCH 10-18
Tuesday, 3/20 Reading:New Oxford Annotated Bible: Book of Revelation
Thursday, 3/22 Reading: Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins of The Left Behind Series discuss end times; An Orthodox response to the series
Tuesday, 3/27 View film before class: THE APOSTLE Showing: Monday, March 26 at 7:30 pm in room 537A of the Geddes Language Center
The Apostle Viewing Guide
(click here to read an interview with Robert Duvall about the film)
Thursday, 3/29: Reading: Sandra Frankiel, Christianity, pp. 90-103 [Blackboard]; How the relics of the apostle James came to rest at Santiago
Tuesday, 4/3 Reading: Weaver and Brakke, pp. 139-159; 210-214; New Oxford Annotated Bible: Exodus 1-14
Tuesday, 4/10 Reading: Weaver and Brakke, pp. 219-236
Tuesday, 4/17 Reading: Shusaku Endo, Silence, pp. 3-78
Thursday, 4/19 Reading: Shusaku Endo, Silence, pp. 79-191
Church project group meetings with professor begins this week
Tuesday, 4/24: Group presentations on Boston Churches
Thursday, 4/26: Group presentations on Boston Churches
Tuesday, 5/1 Review