REL W10 The Theology of Beauty. In his Confessions, Augustine cried out to God, “Late have I loved you, Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved you!” It seemed natural to Augustine and to many thinkers since Augustine to understand God as Beauty Itself, the source of everything beautiful. This course will offer an introduction to the discipline of theological aesthetics, examining the theology of beauty through the work of theologians such as Augustine, Anselm, Bonaventure, Edwards, and Balthasar. We will be guided by the insights of artists (painters, composers, and poets); however, this is not a course in the theology of art, but in the theology of beauty. We will be concerned first of all with what it means to understand God as Beauty and then with the question of how the beauty of the creation, most especially the beauty of other people, may serve to direct us back to God. Following the lead of David Bentley Hart, we will then use the theology of beauty as a lens through which to consider other theological topics. Evaluation is based on class participation, and papers. L. Smit. 2:00 to 5:00
REL W40 Birth, Sex and Death in the Biblical World. Why is sexual intercourse "unclean"according to Lev 15:18? If the body is in the grave, where is the "person" after death? In recent years, anthropologists and other social scientists have begun to examine more closely the ways in which human cultures conceptualize and organize the ordinary events of the human life cycle. Biblical scholars, too, have begun to consider these things by using the Bible, not as a theological textbook, but as a window into the lives of ordinary people in ancient Israel and the early Church. This course looks at various aspects of the human life cycle as they are described or discussed in the Bible. Material from other ancient Near Eastern cultures is also used to illuminate the thought world of the Bible. Some of the aspects of the life cycle covered are the reasons why people wanted to have children, theories of conception and fetal development, birth and the postpartum period, the female reproductive cycle, the structure of marriage, raising children, sexual activity and restrictions, celibacy, old age, death, and the afterlife Evaluation is based on class participation and a paper. This course may fulfill and elective in the Religion major or minor. R. Whitekettle. 8:30 to noon.
REL W41 Exploring Election. Have you ever struggled with the idea that God has chosen some to be his people and not others? This course engages students in an exploration of the often controversial biblical theme of election. In addition to the appropriate biblical and historical surveys, we will also see how poetry, novels, music and film help us to engage the current lively debates about the doctrine, and to explore its continuing relevance. No prior knowledge of the subject required. Evaluation is based on class participation, presentations, a reflection paper and an exam. This course my fulfill an elective requirement in the Religion major or minor. S. McDonald. 2:00 to 5:00.
REL W43 Learning to Pray Like Jesus. What does the Bible teach about prayer, and how does that translate into real life? This course will explore the place of prayer in the Old and the New Testaments, including the Jewish roots of Christian practice and how the theology of prayer was developed in the early church. Special attention will be given to “The Lord’s Prayer.” This course will also investigate some of the theological questions raised by prayer: Can God be influenced? Does God change his mind? Does payer make a difference in the world? Evaluation will be based on two book reviews, class participation, daily prayer with at least one other class member and keeping a daily prayer journal. This course may fulfill an elective in the Religion major. D. Crump. 8:30 to noon.
REL W44 One Bible, Many Readings. This course examines the emergence, development, and practice of non-Western-centered biblical hermeneutics. Special attention is given to the phenomenon of biblical interpretation in Asia: how the Bible, a Semitic book formed in an entirely different geographic, historical, and cultural context, and interpreted for so many centuries by the West, can and should be interpreted in Asia by Asian Christians for their own people. In what way does biblical authority help Asian Christians confess Christ in a multi-scriptural content? Through engaging in meaningful dialogue with others, students learn a balanced attitude toward diverse readings of biblical texts. Evaluation is based on class participation, presentations, and a final paper. This course may fulfill an elective in the Asian Studies major. W. Lee. 8:30 to noon.
REL W45 World Christianity. Through readings, film, pictorial art, music, dance, liturgy, literature (biographies, novels, short stories) and theoretical models, students will engage Christian faith and worship in many different regional forms. Key topics will include vernacular translation of the Bible, indigenous embodiment of Christ, doctrinal orthodoxy, Christian mission in the global age, and cross-cultural Christian dialogue. Evaluation is based on class participation, presentations, a reflection paper and an exam. This course may fulfill an elective in the Missions minor and the International Development Studies major. . D. Obenchain. 8:30 to noon.
REL W46 Male and Female He Created Them. The Old and New Testament explore the meaning of our being created male and female in the image of God. This course will study those biblical texts which focus on our sexuality, the roles of men and women and the relationship between them. We will read the love poetry of the Song of Songs, ponder passages from Proverbs, consider relevant narratives, including Gen. chs. 1-3, selections from the laws, as well as gospel accounts and excerpts from the epistles. Inescapably, our discussion will take place in the context of present day reflections concerning gender. Issues such as men and women’s roles in the church, workplace, home and school, marriage and divorce, same sex relationships and the ‘masculine’ face of God will be engaged. Evaluation is based on daily readings, a reading journal, class participation and a formal paper. This course may fulfill an elective in the Relgion major or minor and the Gender Studies minor. C. de Groot. 2:00 to 5:00.
CANCELED IDIS W32 Theology and the Arts. R. Plantinga.