Academic Programs 

Fall 2008

This course is an introduction to the Christian faith, intended for those from other traditions. While global Christianity through the centuries has been expressed in many institutional forms and with diverse beliefs, there are certain core similarities to those branches of Christianity that identify with the early ecumenical councils of the Church. The course will enter into this world of Christianity through texts, audio-visual materials, discussion, reflection and analysis. The course will examine four areas: Scripture (focusing primarily on the New Testament); History (a survey of major events from the Early Church through today); Theology (through readings from influential theologians throughout the history of the faith); and Worship (focusing on the broad spectrum of modern Christian worship practices). The course seeks to provide students with an understanding of the core beliefs, doctrines and practices of the Christian tradition, including: Sin, Incarnation, Salvation, the Cross, the Trinity, Eucharist (Communion), and Resurrection.

Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Thursdays 1:15-4:15 PM

Rev. Molly F. James
Adjunct Instructor of Theology and Ethics and Associate Pastor, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Essex

Contact Information:
860-345-0093 (home)
email: (best way to reach me)


Course Syllabus

Course Grading and Policies

20 % Participation
25 % Short Paper 1
25 % Short Paper 2
30 % Final Take Home Exam

Your attendance is expected at each class session. If you are unable to attend class, please email me.

Papers are due on the dates indicated, unless previous arrangements have been made with me.

All written work is to conform to the seminary writing guidelines, which can be found online at: Please make use of our writing consultant as well. Additionally, I should not be the first person to read your paper. Please ask a friend, spouse, roommate, etc to proofread your paper. They do not need to know the material, just to be another set of eyes to help you see typos and grammatical errors.

Paper 1 (due Week 3)
Write a five page paper comparing and contrasting between Christianity and your own tradition (or within two branches of Christianity) one of the following elements: the connection between Scripture and doctrine, how a particular passage is viewed/interpreted or the place of Scripture in worship. The paper will provide context for how each tradition arrived at that particular doctrine/practice, provide a basic description of the doctrine/practice and a thorough comparison and contrast with the other tradition, and finally explore the significance for the members of each tradition.

Paper 2 (due Week 7)
Write a five page paper on one an event in Church History that you believe to be a significant moment for Christians or a significant moment for other faith traditions. Describe the event, using primary sources if possible, and its effects in detail. Additionally, the paper will set a context for the event, provide analysis of the significance of this event for Christians and/or members of other faith traditions. The paper will also examine why this event still matters to us in the 21st century.

Final Exam
The Final Exam will be emailed to you at 8:00 am on December 1 and due to me (via email) by midnight on December 4th. The exam will be open book. More details will follow as we get closer.

Required Texts :
Keith Ward, Christianity: A Short Introduction
Justo L. Gonzalez, Church History: An Essential Guide
James F. White, An Introduction to Christian Worship
Holy Bible. New Revised Standard Version.
Reading assignments will average 80-100 pages per week. Other readings will be drawn from a variety of sources and made available in PDF format, either via web, email or CD.

Recommended Text:
E.A. Livingstone, Oxford Concise Dictionary of the Christian Church

Course Schedule & Reading Assignments

Session 1: September 11

Introduction to New Testament
Reading: Gospels of Mark and Matthew, Ward: ch. 11
In Class: Video of Gospel According to Mark

Session 2: September 18
New Testament Continued
Reading: Gospels of John & Luke, Ward: ch. 12
In Class: Interpretation of Scripture & Bible Study

Session 3: September 25 (PAPER 1 DUE)
Early Church
Reading: Gonzalez: ch. 1-2, Book of Acts, Didache, Nicene Creed, Excerpts from Early Christian Doctrines
In Class: Early Church

Session 4: October 2
Middle Ages
Reading: Gonzalez: chaps. 3-5, Exceprts from Aquinas' Summa Theologica, Excerpts from Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love
In Class: Rise of Papacy & East/West Schism

Session 5: October 9
Reformation to Modernity
Reading: Gonzalez: ch. 6-9, Excerpts from: Martin Luther, Council of Trent and 1662 BCP,
In Class: Reformation to 20th Century

Unit Three: Theology
Session 6: October 16

Biblical & Sacramental Theology
Reading: Ward: ch. 4 &16 White: ch. 7-9, Excerpts from: Paul's Letters - Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Book of Revelation
In Class: Baptism, Eucharist, Life After Death

Session 7: October 23 (PAPER 2 DUE)
Creation & Sin
Reading: Ward: ch. 2, 3, 4 & 7, Genesis 1-3, Excerpts from Augustine's Confessions and City of God
In Class: Imago Dei, Doctrine of Original Sin, Liturgy of Reconciliation

Session 8: October 30
Church & Trinity
Reading: Ward: ch. 9 & 10, Pastoral Epistles, Excerpts from Early Christian Doctrines and Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics,
In Class: Trinity and Church Structure/Polity


Session 9: November 6

Reading: Ward: ch. 15, White: ch. 1-4
In Class: Overview of Christian Worship: Time, Art, Architecture, Liturgy

Session 10: November 13
Reading: White: ch. 5, 6, 10
In Class: Videos of various worship services

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