Academic Programs 

  Jesus and the Christian Life Today (SC-650) 
Summer 2004

This course combines compact lectures with structured conversations about a historical-metaphorical approach to Jesus and Christian origins and his significance for the Christian life today. Topics include the gospels as history and metaphor; the distinction between the pre-Easter and post-Easter Jesus; Jesus and "the way" (personal transformation); Jesus and "the kingdom" (social transformation); Jesus and empire; the death and resurrection of Jesus; christology and the Trinity.  

Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Monday, June 14 – Friday, June 18, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Marcus Borg
nationally known Jesus scholar and Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture in the Philosophy Department at Oregon State University

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9500


Course Syllabus

This course is a sustained conversation about Jesus and the Christian life today.  It combines three purposes:

*Studying the pre-Easter and post-Easter Jesus in the historical context of the first century.

*Seeking to see the significance of Jesus for the Christian life today.

*Learning how to teach about Jesus in the church today.


Our conversations about Jesus will be set in our own cultural context of a time of change and conflict within North American Christianity.  We are living in a time of transition between an earlier Christian paradigm and an emerging Christian paradigm.  Earlier paradigm Christians generally resist the transition and change, whereas emerging paradigm Christians generally embrace the change.  And many Christians are somewhere in between, knowing that the earlier paradigm is no longer completely satisfying, but uncertain about what an alternative might be.

For both earlier and emerging paradigm Christians, Jesus is the decisive revelation of what can be seen of God in a human life – of what a life full of God looks like.  We will explore a historical, metaphorical, and sacramental way of seeing Jesus, the gospels, and the New Testament; and a relational and transformational way of seeing the Christian life.

Our time together will be spent in a variety of ways:

     *"Centering time" each day

     *Lectures and lecturettes, with responses/questions

     *Discussion of readings

     *A small-group activity each day

     *Brief in-class reflection/writing exercises


Required Textbooks/Reading:

1. Marcus Borg, The Heart of Christianity (HarperSanFrancisco, 2003). Though this book is about more than Jesus, much of it also treats Jesus and the Christian life.  It also provides the cultural and ecclesiastical context of the course.  Ideally, this book should be read before the course (and you will want to bring it along).

2. Walter Wink, Jesus and Non-Violence: A Third Way (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003).  A brief but important book.

3. A New Testament or Bible.  Any “mainline” version is fine: NRSV, RSV, NEB, NAB, Jerusalem Bible.


Schedule of Classes and Reading Assignments.

Monday, June 14.  Introduction. To each other, the course, memories of Jesus.  Introduction to the pre-Easter and post-Easter Jesus, and the nature of the gospels.

            Reading: Heart of Christianity, chapters one and two.

Tuesday, June 15.  Jesus and God.  Christology, Atonement, Trinity.

            Reading: Heart of Christianity, chapters three through five.


Wednesday, June 16.  The Way of Jesus: Jesus and Wisdom.         

Reading: Heart of Christianity, chapters six and nine (NOT six THROUGH nine).  You may wish to begin Wink’s book, which is assigned for Thursday.


Thursday, June 17.  The Politics of Jesus: Jesus and the Kingdom, Jesus and Non-violent Resistance.

Reading: Heart of Christianity, chapter seven.
Wink, Jesus and Non-Violence


Friday, June 18.  The Community of Jesus Today.

            Reading: Heart of Christianity, chapters eight, ten and eleven.

Note: today class will end at 3pm.



1. For everybody, whether for CEU or credit: attendance, assigned readings, and participation in all sessions.  Attendance will be monitored in part by in-class "S/U" paragraphs.

2. For credit: a paper approximately eight to ten pages long (2000 to 3000 words).  Topic to be negotiated with instructor or course assistant, before or during the course.  Options include:

*A thematic paper based on several sources.

*A comparative book-review, integrating/comparing/contrasting two books on a relevant theme.

*An exegetical paper based on a gospel text.


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