Course Descriptions


F1: How to Read the Bible According to the Early Church Fathers

James Kang Hoon Lee, Associate Professor of the History of Early Christianity, Director, Doctor of Ministry Program, Perkins School of Theology

This course explores how early Christian theologians interpreted the Bible, and how such approaches to the reading of Scripture might be useful today.  Among the issues we will examine are: a) the formation of the Biblical canon and the criteria for determining the books of the Bible; b) Biblical inerrancy, divine inspiration and human authorship; c) the different senses of Sacred Scripture (e.g. literal, spiritual, allegorical); and d) preaching and Biblical interpretation.  This course will introduce students to the works of early Church Fathers such as Irenaeus, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom, and Augustine of Hippo.  

Read in preparation: Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church, by Michael Graves.

Jack Levison

F2: An Unconventional God: The Holy Spirit According to Jesus

John R. (Jack) Levison, W. J. A. Power Professor of Old Testament Interpretation and Biblical Hebrew, Perkins School of Theology

He led an unconventional life. Born in a stable, he didn’t get married or own a home, and he died a criminal’s death. By all counts, Jesus led an unconventional life. What do you think happens when we understand—and experience—the Holy Spirit through the lens of his life? Come spend an afternoon with me and find out! You will discover dimensions of the Holy Spirit that are uncommon, astonishing, unconventional even because the Holy Spirit is now enmeshed in the tortured—literally, tortured—life of Jesus of Nazareth. Refracted through the prism of Jesus’ life and death, the Holy Spirit shows up in the oddest situations and the most baffling teachings of Jesus—in desert sojourns, in a strange adage about scorpions and snakes, in puzzling sayings about birth from above and springs from below, in the strange word, Paraclete. 

Read in preparation: An Unconventional God, by Jack Levison.

S1: How Do We Solve A Problem Like...Mary?

This course is offered all-day Saturday and cannot be combined with any other Saturday course.

Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner, Professor of Pastoral Care and Pastoral Theology, Perkins School of Theology

Mary, mother of Jesus, is present at the crucial events in Jesus’ life: Annunciation, Birth, Life in the temple and at weddings, Suffering and Death, Resurrection and Ascension. Protestants have tended to shy away from Mary, although we affirm her role as God‐bearer in the Apostles’ Creed. As a child, I was steered away from Mary for fear I would become Roman Catholic. As an adult, I could not connect with her apparent passivity and helplessness. Only when a Jesuit‐trained spiritual director asked me to meditate on Psalm 131:2 and image myself (metaphorically speaking) on Mary’s lap, did I understand her pivotal place for my life, theology. Join me in this day‐long course to explore and help solve a problem like Mary!

Read in preparation: The Hidden Years and Incarnational Theology: Mary, Mother of God

S2: Truth Telling in a Post-Truth World

This course is offered all-day Saturday and cannot be combined with any other Saturday course.

D. Stephen Long, Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics, Perkins School of Theology

Will truth set us free? Jesus’ words in John 8:32 were put to the test in his day when Pilate asked, “What is truth?” and assumed no answer was possible. Jesus’ words are put to the test in our own day as well. This course will examine the reasons many find it difficult to believe Jesus’ claim and why it is imperative that people of faith affirm it. In particular, we will explore (1) why truth matters for a politics of freedom (2) how politics became “post-truth” and the dangers it poses (3) how Pilate’s question can be answered. The letter to the Hebrews and the Gospel of John will be given particular attention in crafting an answer to Pilate’s question.

Read in preparation: The Gospel of John, paying particular attention to the role of “truth.”

S3: Models of Evangelism

Priscilla Pope-Levison, Associate Dean of External Programs, Professor of Ministerial Studies, Perkins School of Theology 

Extreme. That’s what most Americans, Christian and non-religious alike, think evangelism is. Religiously extreme. But the Greek word, euangelion—the basis for evangelism—means good news. That’s it. Good news. Come spend a morning with me to learn how better to be and to bring good news to our damaged world. We’ll use portions from my latest book, Models of Evangelism, which looks carefully at the biblical, theological, and historical roots of evangelism, to discover down-to-earth ways to engage our neighbors, friends, and family with the good news. And don’t worry. You won’t be forced to do what you find religiously extreme! There are eight models in this book, and one, I’m sure, will be just right for you.

Watch in preparation: A one-hour video will be sent to those who register for this course. 

S4: An Introduction to Black Theology

Ray Jordan, Adjunct Professor, Simmons School of Education

Red, Yellow, Black and White, all are precious in God’s sight…but really? God may love all but the Church has fallen short of this simple task and no group knows this better than African Americans. This course is designed to examine the relationship of African Americans with Christianity and the Church by asking “Why Black Theology?” and “What is Black Theology,” and “Why Black Theology, Now?” Regardless of race or ministry setting, this course will identify how each congregation can embrace Black Theology and the needs it addresses.