Exploring Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist perspectives of biblical themes

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Freshman Academic Seminar

FAS 1310: The Christian Scriptures

with a writing component


Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist perspectives of biblical themes

TR 11:00-12:15

[Jesus] belongs not solely to Christianity, but to the entire world; to all races and people, it matters little under what flag, name or doctrine

they may work, profess a faith, or worship . . .”

Mahatma Gandhi

Marc Chagall “White Crucifixion”

Jesus in Yogi pose

I. Blake W. Burleson, Ph.D. Stephanie Peek

Senior Lecturer in Religion Graduate Assistant

Office: Burleson 100 Stephanie_Peek@baylor.edu

Office Hours: 2:00-5:00 PM (M-F)

Office Phone: 710-3940

Home Phone: 756-5950

E-mail: Blake_Burleson@baylor.edu

II. Course Description: This is an introductory course on the Bible, the sacred scripture of Christians, taught in a liberal arts context. As a Freshman Academic Seminar the class is limited to 19 freshmen and has a writing component in the area of the professor’s specialization (World Religions). FAS 1310 substitutes for REL 1310.
III. Course Goals: to read the biblical text with an awareness of three complimentary paths which a modern reader uses in serious study of the Bible: historical, literary, and contemporary.

  1. historical goals: to introduce the student (a) to the original setting of the ancient Near East during the biblical period and (b) to the origin, development, and canonization of biblical literature.

  2. literary goals: to introduce the student to the basic types of literature, themes, contents, and structures found in the Bible.

  3. contemporary goals: to introduce the student to contemporary methods of biblical study which focus on the role of the reader in interpreting the text. An emphasis will be placed on interreligious dialogue through the study of Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist interpretations of the Christian scriptures.

IV. Course Objectives:

1. demonstrate comprehension of the history of the biblical text and of the cultural context of the Bible (TESTS).

2. identify key concepts, people, places, and events in the biblical writings (QUIZZES & TESTS).

3. identify major literary types, biblical themes, and theological characteristics of the Bible. (TESTS).

4. recognize the books and authors of the Old and New Testaments. (TESTS)

5. gain familiarity with the major historical, literary, and contemporary methods of biblical study. (TESTS)

5. provide a written and oral book review on a Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist perspective of a biblical theme. (BOOK REPORT)

V. I expect you to

1. study about 4 to 6 hours outside of this class during a typical week,

2. read the assignments from the Bible and from the text before class,

3. take good notes during class,

4. participate in class discussion,

5. attend every class meeting unless ill

6. turn in your completed work on-time, and

7. make a 30-minute appointment with me during the first 6 weeks of the semester.

VI. Required Textbooks:

The Bible. While any translation is acceptable, I recommend that you use the Oxford Annotated New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

Hauer, Christian E. and William A. Young. An Introduction to the Bible: A Journey into Three Worlds. Eighth Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001.

VII. Grading Scale:

A 92.0-100

A- 90.0-91.9

B+ 88-89.9

B 82-87.9

B- 80.0-81.9

C+ 78-79.9

C 72-77.9

C- 70.0-71.9

D 60.0-69.9

F 0.0-59.9
VIII. Course Requirements

  1. Tests (30%): There will be 8 on-line tests in Blackboard over class lectures and Hauer and Young’s An Introduction to the Bible. These timed tests will be multiple-choice and T/F. Students who miss the deadline for completing the tests (for any reason) or who wish to retake tests, may take make-up tests at the final exam time at semester end.

  2. Bible Quizzes (30%). There will be approximately 15 unannounced quizzes during the semester. The quizzes will be based on your assigned reading from the Bible. A study guide for quizzes is available on Blackboard to assist the student in preparation. The 3 lowest grades on the quizzes will be dropped. No make-ups are given for students who are absent or tardy, no matter what the reason. Students who leave class after taking a quiz (for whatever reason) will receive a zero on the quiz.

  3. Book Report, Presentation, & Book Report Critique (40%). (See guidelines)

  4. Extra Credit: The student may receive extra credit for attending special events during the semester. TBA

IX. Policy Requirements:

Class Attendance: The College of Arts and Sciences has a formal policy governing maximum absences. You may not miss more than 25% of the scheduled classes (no matter what the reason) and pass the course. There are no excused or unexcused absences. If you miss more than 25%, the grade is an automatic “F.” The maximum allowable number of absences for a TR class is 7. Roll is taken at the beginning of class; students who are tardy should report to the instructor at the end of the hour to remove the absence. Students who leave during the class, for whatever reason, will be counted as absent for the entire period.
Dropping: The University has posted dates for dropping courses during the semester (see dates on the University calendar on-line).

  1. Getting Help: It is my experience that many students struggle academically in at least one or two courses during any given semester. If this occurs, consider the resources of the campus that are available to you. Set up an appointment with your professor or your graduate assistant. Contact the Success Center at 710-8212 or the Counseling Center at 710-2467. I have posted an Open Letter in Blackboard which gives some rules of thumb for success at Baylor.

XI. A Word about the Course:

This is a religion course taught at a Baptist University by an ordained Baptist minister and member of an ecumenical monastic order. Your teacher has served as missionary, pastor, chaplain, and adviser at Baptist institutions. As such, he views the study of religion not only from the perspective of REASON demanded by the academy but also from the perspective of the SPIRIT expected from the community of faith. While the class presentations are similar to those of other introductory classes in the Humanities, your teacher is committed to offer support and encouragement for those who journey along their spiritual pathways. During the semester, the student may incur doubts, questions, complexes, disturbances, inspirations, callings, etc. that are of a personal nature. The teacher is interested in assisting students in their academic and spiritual pilgrimage. He offers himself as a resource person. Students may set up appointments for personal sessions by calling 710-3940 or emailing.
These facts, however, can lead to a misunderstanding as to the nature of the course. Please note that this is not an indoctrination session, and the approach is not intended to be sectarian or denominational. We will not study “Baptist” doctrine; we will study the Bible, the Holy Scripture for all Christians and respected by people from other religious traditions such as Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. (And, of course, we recognize that the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible is also the Holy Scripture for Judaism.) The teacher readily acknowledges and appreciates the fact that there are many valid religious and secular approaches to the Bible. This class is also not a devotional time or a chapel service. It is an academic course in the College of Arts and Sciences; you should approach it as you would any other course as regards to your preparation and study.
I have posted an article in Blackboard which I wrote titled “From a Burleson Window: Required: Six Hours of Religion” which explains the purpose of requiring religion at Baylor University.
X. A Word about Baylor University

Mission Statement (adopted October 28, 1994): The mission of Baylor University is to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.

8/22 Dinner at the Burlesons

8/26 Introduction to the Course

8/28 The Three Worlds of the Bible: An Orientation

(Hauer/Young, 1-25)

9/02 An Orientation to the Methods of Biblical Study
On-line Test Demonstration—Stephanie Peek

(Hauer/Young, 26-48)

9/03 Test 1 due, 1-48.

9/04 Cosmic Origins

Genesis 1-4; 5:21-27; 6:1-9:19; 10: 8-10; 11:1-9

(Hauer/Young, 49-60)
9/09 Origins of the People of God: Abraham

Genesis 11:31-12:19; 15:1-21; 21:1-21; Genesis 22:1-19 (Hauer/Young, 60-71)

9/11 Origins of the People of God: Isaac, Jacob, Joseph

Genesis 24:1-25:34; 27:1-33:20; 37:1-36; 39:1-43:34

9/16 Covenant: Moses and Exodus

Exodus 1:8-4:20; 5:1-6:9; 7:14-24; 11:1-12:36; 13:1-10; 13:19-14:31; 15:1-27

(Hauer/Young, 72-87)
Student Presentation: Ellen Frankel’s: The Five Books of Miriam

9/18 Covenant and Law

Exodus 16:1-17:16; 19:1-20:22; 31:18-34:29

Deut. 31:14-18; 34:1-12

(Hauer/Young, 87-96)

Student Presentation: Abraham Heschel: The Sabbath
9/19 Test 2 Due, 49-96.

9/23 The Occupation of Canaan

Joshua 2:1-24; 3:14-4:24; 5:13-6:27;7:1-8:35

Judges 2:6-23; 4:1-5:8; 5:19-7:25; 11:1-12:1; 13:1-5; 13:24-16:31

(Hauer/Young, 97-103)

Student Presentation: Susan Ackerman: Women in Judges

9/25 From Tribes to State

I Samuel 9:1-11:15; 15:1-25; 16:1-18:16; 28:3-25; 31:1-13

(Hauer/Young, 104-107)

9/30 From State to Exile

II Samuel 1:1-2:4a; 5:1-10; 6:1-23; 11:1-12:25; 13; 14:25-26;

15:1-37; 16:15-17:23; 18:1-19; 23:1-7;

I Kings 1:5-8, 11-14; 2:6-31, 47-53: 3:3-9, 16-28; 4:20-25; 6:1, 17-22.II Kings 19-25.

(Hauer/Young, 107-123)

Student Presentation: Marc Ellis: Judaism does not equal Israel

10/02 Prophets

II Kings 19-25

Isaiah 40; 45; 53; Jeremiah 1-5; Ezekiel 1-3

(Hauer/Young, 124-146)

Student Presentation: Karen Armstrong: The Great Transformation
10/06 Test 3 Due, 97-146.

10/07 part I: Israel’s Sacred Songs

Psalms 22-23; 25; 30; 39; 88; 90

(Hauer/Young, 147-161)

Student Presentation: Martin Marty: A Cry of Absence

10/09 part II: The Way of Wisdom

Job 1:1-3:4; 11:1-6; 12:1-4; 13:1-28; 38:1-42:17.

(Hauer/Young, 162-178)

10/14 part II: The Way of Wisdom

Ecclesiastes 1:1-3:22; 4:4-17; 5:9-19; 7:1-16; 8:9-13; 10:1-3; 11:7- 8; 12:9-14.

Student Presentation: Rami Shapiro: The Way of Solomon

10/16 part III: The Rest of the Writings

Jonah 1-4

(Hauer/Young, 142 [Jonah], 179-193)

Student Presentation: Lacocque & Lacoque: The Jonah Complex
10/20 Test 4 Due, 147-193.

10/21 Jewish Life and Literature (200 BC-AD 100)

Daniel 3; 7-12; Bel and the Dragon (Chapter 14 of the Greek Version of Daniel)

(Hauer/Young, 194-214)

Student Presentation: Rami Shapiro: The Angelic Way
10/22 Test 5 Due, 194-214.

10/23 The Gospels

(Hauer/Young, 215-238)

Student Presentation: Amy Levine: The Misunderstood Jew
10/28 The Gospels

(Hauer/Young, 239-265)

Student Presentation: Mohandas Gandhi: The Message of Jesus Christ
10/30 The Gospels

Student Presentation: Thich Nhat Hahn: Living Buddha, Living Christ
11/04 The Birth Stories

Matt 1-2; Luke 1-2

Student Presentation: Ann Ulanov: The Female Ancestors of Christ
11/06 The Baptism & Temptation

Matt 3: 13-17; 4:1-11; Mark 1:9-13; Luke 3:21-22; 4:1-13

Student Presentation: Elaine Pagels The Origin of Satan

11/11 Sermon on the Mount

Matt. 5-7; Luke 6:17-49

Student Presentation: The Dalai Lama: The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teaching of Jesus
11/13 Crucifixion

Matthew 21-27; Mark 11-14; Luke 19:28-23:56; John 12-19

Student Presentation: John Dominic Crossan: Who killed Jesus?
11/18 Resurrection

Matt. 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20-21

Student Presentation: Pinchas Lapide: The Resurrection of Jesus
11/20 The Gospel of Thomas

Thomas, Logion 1-114

Student Presentation: Elaine Pagels: Beyond Belief
11/24 Test 6 Due, 215-265.

11/25 The Birth of Christianity

Acts 1:1-2:15; 2:29-42; 6:1-7:2a;

7:51-8:24; 9:1-18; 10:1-11:3; 15:1-29; 28:11-31.

(Hauer/Young, 266-283)

Student Presentation: Jeffery Butz: The Brother of Jesus

12/01 Test 7 Due, 266-283.

12/02 Paul: Apostle to the Gentiles: The Letters of Paul

Galatians 3:24-29; 5:1-6:10; Romans 1:1-7; 2:12-16, 27-29; 3:19-31; 5:1-11; 6:15-23; 13:1-4, 8-10; I Corinthians 13

(Hauer/Young, 284-304)
12/04 The Pastoral and General Epistles and the Revelation to John

I Timothy 1:1-2; 3:1-7; 6:1-10; Hebrews 1:1; 11:1-40;

James 1:1, 12-25; 2:14-26; 5:7-11; Revelation 1:1-20; 4:1-6:8; 7:1-4, 9-17; 12:1-17; 20:1-22:21

(Hauer/Young, 305-344)

12/08 Test 8 Due, 284-344.
12/9-12/10 STUDY DAYS
12/10 Book Review Revisions Due
12/12 2:00-4:00 PM Re-take of Tests 1-8 (optional)


Ackerman, Susan. (1998) Women in Judges and Biblical Israel: Warrior, Dancer, Seductress, Queen. New York: Doubleday.
Armstrong, Karen. (2006) The Great Transformation: The Beginning of our Religious Traditions. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Butz, Jeffrey J. ( 2005) The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions.
Crossan, John Dominic. (1996) Who Killed Jesus? Exposing the Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Gospel Story of the Death of Jesus. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
Dalai Lama, His Holiness the 14th (1996) The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teaching of Jesus, edited by Robert Kiely, Boston, Wisdom Publications.
Ellis, Marc. (2009) Judaism Does Not Equal Israel. New York: The New Press.
Frankel, Ellen. (1996) The Five Books of Miriam: A Woman’s Commentary on the Torah. New York: G. P. Putman’s Sons.
Gandhi, Mohandas K. (1940) The Message of Jesus Christ, Bombay, Bharitiya Vidya Bhavan.
Hahn, Thich Nhat. (1995) Living Buddha, Living Christ, New York Riverhead Books.
Heschel, Abraham Joshua. (1951) The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Lacocque, Andre and Pierre-Emmanuel Lacocque. (1981) The Jonah Complex. Foreword by Mircea Eliade. Atlanta: John Knox Press.
Lapide, Pinchas (1983) The Resurrection of Jesus, translated by Wilhelm C. Linss, Minneapolis, Ausburg Publishing House. First published 1979.
Levine, Amy. (2006) The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
Marty, Martin. (1983) A Cry of Absence: Reflections for the Winter of the Heart. San Francisco: Harper and Row, Publishers.
Pagels, Elaine. (1995) The Origin of Satan. New York: Random House.
Pagels, Elaine. (2003) Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas, Vintage Books,
Shapiro, Rami. (2009) The Angelic Way: Angels through the Ages and Their Meaning for Us. New York: BlueBridge.
Shapiro, Rami. (2000) The Way of Solomon: Finding Joy and Contentment in the Wisdom of Ecclesiastes. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
Ulanov, Ann. (2006) The Female Ancestors of Christ. Schweiz: Daimon Verlag.

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