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COURSE TITLE: Prophet to the Nations: Paul's Epistles and Theology
CREDIT WEIGHT AND WEEKLY TIME DISTRIBUTION: credits 3 (hrs lect 3 - hrs sem 0 - hrs lab 0)
COURSE DESCRIPTION: A detailed study of the life, letters and theology of the apostle Paul in the context of his time and mission. Special attention will be paid to past and present paradigms for understanding Paul, as well as to his contribution to a variety of current issues in theology, ethics, church life and Christian mission.

Prerequisites: THEO 250

“Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.” In his own lifetime and throughout the centuries since, this Paul has been a challenging and controversial figure in the history of Christianity. The message that he proclaimed changed the world. His letters have generated, disturbed, challenged, divided and renewed the church, and have ignited theological revolutions in (among others) Augustine, Martin Luther, John Wesley and Karl Barth. He is viewed by some as a champion of Christian freedom, by others as a promoter of various oppressions, including slavery and patriarchy. Himself a Jew, he is yet often read by both Christians and Jews as condemning the religion of Judaism. He is sometimes thought to have distorted the “authentic” message of Jesus, substituting rigid “doctrine” and rules for compassionate action. He is championed by some recent philosophers as an exemplarypolitical revolutionary. The controversy about Paul continues.

In this course we are introduced to the study of Paul and his letters in their social, cultural and historical settings. We trace the contours of his revolutionary calling, mission and message. We examine some of the most important controversies which Paul initiated or engaged in his own time. We also address some of the controversies surrounding the interpretation of Paul in current scholarship. Finally, we ask how Paul's letters must shape theological and ethicaldiscourse in the Church and among Christians today.

  • The Bible  (The New Revised Standard Version is used in lectures, and is recommended for students.  The New International Version is also acceptable.)
  • Bruce W. Longenecker and Todd D. Still, Thinking Through Paul: A Survey of His Life, Letters, and Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014). 
  • Additional readings may be assigned from time to time throughout the term.
Term assignments20%
Midterm exam20%
Term paper20%
Final Examination30%
  • to understand the social, cultural, historical context of Paul’s life and letters
  • to learn and use appropriate tools and methods in the study of Paul’s letters
  • to understand the character of Paul’s “conversion,” call, and missionary strategy
  • to discern the contour and content of the gospel according to Paul
  • to understand some of Paul’s controversies in their context
  • to address current issues in theology and ethics through Paul
  • Introduction to the course
  • Paul's context, life, mission
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • Galatians
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Romans
  • Ephesians

Required texts, assignments, and grade distributions may vary from one offering of this course to the next. Please consult the course instructor for up to date details.

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