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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Theological Notebook: Introduction to Theology Readings 
24th-Aug-2006 10:38 pm
Jesus Teaching
My more-or-less final reading schedule (I think). I'm really quite pleased with the selections in the new edition of the department's volume Introduction to Theology, which collect an impressive set of readings from across the history of Christianity. Some of them were readings I picked for my high school students, in fact. But it ends up being a great mix of ecclesiological, mystical, liturgical, and Christological readings and the like. It will allow me to show a variety of theological and spiritual approaches to the students, and so I'm going to experiment this semester by teaching the volume rather closely and see how it works. The only glaring omissions, to my mind, are in the Scripture section, in not having anything from either The Gospel of John (which I think the most important and influential piece of writing in all of human history), particularly the Prologue, or from the Acts of the Apostles.  It's the hope of the department that other schools will pick this up as their key reader if the new edition has been wisely put together. I think it seems more pedagogically focused than the last one, and so they should have a reasonable chance of that kind of success.

28 M Class Introduction.
30 W Historical Orientation. Read Introduction to Theology (“Intro”) ch. 9, the Gospel of Mark.

1 F What is Theology? Read First Things article “Theology as Knowledge: A Symposium” [First Things 163 (May 2006): 21-27] at: http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0605/articles/symposium.html

4 M Labor Day. Celebrate work by playing all day.
6 W Philosophy and Theology: Ultimate Questions. Read Mere Christianity, Introduction, Preface, and Book I: “Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe.”
8 F Creation and Fall. Read Intro ch. 1, Genesis.

11 M The Abrahamic Tradition. Read Intro ch. 2, Genesis.
13 W The Mosaic Covenant. Read Intro ch. 3, Exodus.
15 F Israel’s Response. Read Intro ch. 4, Deuteronomy.

18 M The House of David. Read Intro ch. 5, 2 Samuel.
20 W Wisdom: Literature and Figure of God. Read Wisdom Literature selections TBA.
22 F Messianic Prophecies. Read Intro ch. 6, Isaiah, and Psalm 22.

25 M Universal Salvation. Read Intro ch. 7, Isaiah.
27 W The Faith of Jesus. Read Intro ch. 8, Hebrews, and Mere Christianity Book II: “What Christians Believe.”
29 F Matthew/Prophecy Fulfilled. Read Matthew selections TBA.

2 M John/The Word Became Flesh/High Christology. Read John selections TBA.
4 W The Acts of the Apostles: the Earliest Church History. Read Acts selections TBA.
6 F The Grace of Christ. Read Intro ch. 10, Galatians.

9 M The Body of Christ. Read Intro ch. 11, 1 Corinthians.
11 W Mid-Term Exam
13 F Assessing our work thus far. The Canon of Scripture. History and Spirituality.

16 M Bishops, Presbyters and Deacons. Read Intro ch. 12, Ignatius of Antioch.
18 W The Sunday Eucharist. Read Intro ch. 13, Justin Martyr.
20 F Mid-Term Break

23 M The Eucharistic Prayer. Read Intro ch. 14, The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus.
25 W Oneness in Christ. Read Intro ch. 15, Cyprian of Carthage.
27 F The Church’s Creed. Read Intro ch. 16, The Nicean-Constanopolitan Creed.

30 M The Confessions, Part I. Read Intro ch. 17, Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions, Book VIII, 1-7.

1 W The Confessions, Part II. Read Intro ch. 17, Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions, Book VIII, 8-12.
3 F Sacred Images. Read Intro ch. 18, The Second Council of Nicaea.

6 M Christ the Saviour. Read Intro ch. 19, Anselm of Canterbury.
8 W Is Theology Necessary? Read Intro ch. 20, Thomas Aquinas.
10 F The Trinity, Part I. Read Mere Christianity Book IV: “Beyond Personality: or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity” chs. 1-6.

13 M The Trinity, Part II. Read Mere Christianity Book IV: “Beyond Personality: or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity” chs. 7-11.
15 W Mystical Prayer. Read Intro ch. 21, Julian of Norwich.
17 F. Authentic Faith. Read Intro ch. 22, Martin Luther.

20 M God’s Greater Glory. Read Intro ch. 23, Ignatius of Loyola, S.J.
22 W Thanksgiving Break.
24 F Thanksgiving Break.

27 M The Church’s Social Teaching. Read Intro ch. 24, Pope Leo XIII.
29 W The Church and Racial Justice. Read Intro ch. 25, Martin Luther King, Jr.

1 F No class.

4 M The Sacred Liturgy. Read Intro ch. 26, Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium.
6 W The Church of Christ. Read Intro ch. 27, Vatican II, Lumen Gentium.
8 F Conclusion
25th-Aug-2006 04:26 am (UTC)

I find myself wondering about how the students are evaluated in a course like this -- purely by exam?
25th-Aug-2006 05:11 am (UTC)
My main concerns are really that they read and digest the material at a reasonable level, and I'm going to reward in that direction. As a department, we're really most concerned that the Intro students all get a representative and shared selection of core material. Over the last ten years, we've had a number of instructors who didn't use the Introduction to Theology text at all, some of whom really dropped the ball on having the students read any key portions of Scripture, in particular. I think they're going to demand people tow the line now, and I think that's all to the good. I TAed for too many upper-division Theology courses where we found that the students hadn't gotten the core formation we were assuming. I'm focusing on giving them exactly that. They'll get the required Scripture from me (and more) and I know that I can use the historical survey selections to teach the varieties of theology (proper) well and ably.

So, I'm having them do short, synthesis written questions at the end of each reading. That will: A) make them do the readings B) start to engage in the process of "theologizing" themselves, and C) allow me to keep the focus on the readings themselves, rather than get distracted by longer "research paper"-type assignments that they really have no business doing at this level anyway. Unlike English, or Math, or anything else, I can only assume zero knowledge and background for this course. I have to start with stuff that – were theology and philosophy not so censored by the culture – would have been grade school-level material for them. So, I think the bulk of the grade will be the readings with questions, with a few exams where I'll probably do a lot of identifications – gotta keep the characters and vocabulary straight – and a few reading samples where I'll have them do similar short answer, evaluation and synthesis-type responses. Whaddaya think?
25th-Aug-2006 02:39 pm (UTC)
Sounds about right to me -- I'm still getting used to the idea of a course that is more content-driven than process/skill-oriented, so I'm perking up my ears constantly.
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