W10 Experiencing God's 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 class is devoted to sharing that experience of God’s beauty, using the resources of the natural world, of visual art, music, poetry, film and stories. The class will also explore what follows from experiences of God’s beauty in terms of how we decide what is beautiful, how we experience other forms of beauty, and how we think about the great themes of the Christian life. The course will require regular attendance, daily reading and/or creative assignments, active participation in class discussion and activities, and the submission of a brief response paper. There will also be two or three off-campus field trips to area museums and cultural sites, such as the Grand Rapids Art Museum and local churches. L. Smit. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
W40 Israel: The Land of the Bible. This course, based in Israel at Jerusalem University College, studies the geographical and historical setting of the Bible. Students will visit ancient historical and archaeological sites with about 80% of the course taught in the field. Specifically, students tour key sites in and around Jerusalem, throughout ancient Judea, and in the Dead Sea area, as well as making two overnight excursions—one to Galilee and another to the Negev (southern desert regions). Students will also experience contemporary Jewish and Arab cultures, along with the contemporary religious and political situation. Jerusalem University College’s location just outside the walls of the old city of Jerusalem makes it a perfect venue for first hand study of the biblical world. Students engage in readings, map work, and field studies. Evaluation is based on completed map work, journals, and quizzes. This course may fulfill an elective in the Religion major and minor. This course will fulfill the CCE requirement. Course dates: January 4-26. Fee: $4,050. More information here. K. Pomykala. Off campus.
W41 Birth, Sex & 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. Students get to study biblical texts as reflections of a particular moment in human culture; look at and interpret various biblical texts for themselves; and think about how various biblical texts might apply today. Students write a paper which is based on the material covered in class. This course may fulfill an elective in the Religion major. R. Whitekettle. 8:30 a.m. to noon.
W42 Elie Wiesel, Prophet of the Holocaust: In Search of God and Humanity. Among the atrocities of the modern world that aggravate the problem of evil for our times, the holocaust stands out. Among those who write and reflect on what an Auschwitz means for belief in God and humanity, and our future together, Elie Wiesel stands out. Elie Wiesel, the 1986 Nobel laureate, is aptly called the prophet of the holocaust, devoting his life to the remembrance of this horrific event in the attempt to discern and publish its moral lessons. This course traces the life, times, and ethical vision of Wiesel, particularly through his holocaust experience and subsequent quest to sustain faith in God and hope for humanity in its ever-elusive task to build a just and humane society. Students journey with Wiesel by aid of documentary and film, but principally through his own writings, which include Night, The Trial of God, The Town Beyond the Wall, Twilight, and selections from his memoirs, All Rivers Run to the Sea, And the Sea is Never Full. Beyond the inspiration of Wiesel’s own life journey, students will deepen their appreciation of the question of theodicy, and of the Jewish resources for persevering in a world with an Auschwitz, a world still dangerously poised. More particularly, students will become conversant in the issues surrounding theodicy, the range of “answers” offered to the problem of evil, as well as how Jewish theological and ethical resources, as exemplified by Wiesel, are formally commensurate with Christian resources, even if materially differentiated by one coming of the Messiah. Two papers and a take home final help facilitate these major objectives. This course may fulfill an elective in the Religion major and minor. T. Thompson. 8:30 a.m. to noon.
W43 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. Student learning objectives are to read extensive amount of biblical theological works of the Third-world perspectives, especially Asian perspectives; to be able to summarize and analyze the nature and contribution of this movement; to examine and construct their own biblical hermeneutical perspective.This course is designed for active dialogue sessions among participants on the subject matter. To facilitate discussions, each student will: lead two sessions on how non-Western readers interpret biblical texts (one from the Old Testament and the other from the New Testament); lead one session on a reading from “Asian faces of Jesus”; bring a short paragraph reflecting the assigned readings; A final 5 pages paper on a chosen biblical text which show how “you” read the text. This course may be used as an elective in the Asian Studies program. W. Lee. 8:30 a.m. to noon.
W80 Male & 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 studies those biblical texts which focus on our sexuality, the roles of women and men and the relationship between them. We read the love poetry of the Song of Songs, ponder passages from proverbs, consider narratives, including Genesis chapters. 1-3, selections from the laws, as well as gospel accounts and excerpts from the epistles. Inescapably, our discussion takes 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. Through this engagement, students learn to reflect critically on their own culture and begin to construct biblically based, Christian thinking on our roles and status as women and men. Teaching methods include readings, lectures, guest speakers, films, student presentations and class discussion. Students are required to complete daily readings, keep a reading journal., participate in class discussion and write a formal paper. This course may fulfill an elective in the Religion major, and minor, and the Gender Studies minor. Prerequisite: core course in Biblical studies. C. de Groot. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
IDIS W64 Evolution & Christian Theology. D. Harlow.