Vanderbilt University
Department of  Religious Studies, College of Arts and Science

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RLST 212 - DIV/REL 3162 Pauline Chritianity: Romans

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Pauline Christianity!
Tuesday 4:10-6:40 pm

Class location: Garland Hall, 301F

Instructor: Daniel Patte (Garland Hall, 301G)

Office Hours: T 2:10-3:00pm or W 1:10-2:00pm & by appointment
Offie Phone: 322-4884; 322-6359
Home Phone: 269-0954

Course Description: The Pauline Interpretaion of Christianity


CATALOG DESCRIPTION: THE PAULINE INTERPRETATION OF CHRISTIANITY. An introduction to Pauline Christianity and its place in the early church, using the letters of Paul, the deutero-Pauline letters, and the portraits of Paul in Acts. [This semester emphasis: Romans.]

NOTE:  this will be a SEMINAR. Everyone will work at her/his own pace. Undergraduates will have less, more focused readings; Divinity and Graduate Students will have more and broader Readings and will contribute to the seminar by additional presentations.

PEDAGOGICAL GOALS of this class:

1) Introducing members of the seminar

a) to Paul and his interpretation of Christianity (for his context in the first century) and

b) to the different interpretations of Paul by his readers (biblical scholars, believers in different cultural contexts in history and today),

in order to help members of the seminar to gain a critical perspective on the variety of interpretations which they encounter. (By the end of the semester, you will be expected to know major differences among three distinctive scholarly interpretations of Paul)


2) Inviting members of the seminar to make explicit and/or develop their own interpretations of Paul’s letter to the Romans

Keeping in mind the warning of a Ghanaian preacher [quoted by Gerald West]: “Some people claim to know the Bible, but the Bible doesn’t know them,” throughout the semester in a weekly exercise you will be expected to illustrate the way in which specific Christian believers identify particular teachings in Romans for specific life contexts and religious settings—how they allow Romans to know their life in this context.  (By the end of the semester, you will be expected to know the content of Romans, and know the place of this letter in the rest of Paul’s letters.)  


3) Teaching members of the seminar how to assess the quality (legitimacy and plausibility) and the value (validity) of their interpretations by comparing it with other interpretations (scholarly interpretations, Christian believers’ interpretations, interpretations by other members of the seminar) 

Analyzing the textual, contextual, and theological/religious choices involved in each interpretation.  (By the end of the semester, you will be expected to show that you can compare several interpretations on the basis of the choices they made; and to assess  their relative values).


Thus, each session will have three parts:

Part A: 4:10-5:00 Introducing Paul and his interpretation of Christianity

Assigned readings on key theological concepts; lecture; the lecture also reinforces key points of Part C of the preceding week (bringing continuity).

Part B: 5:00-6:00 Round-Table Discussion of YOUR interpretations of a passage of Romans focused on a key concept (you need to come to class with it);

Students sign up the previous week to participate to one of the two groups, each focusing on different concepts; the goal of the round-table is to show the different interpretations of the same passage by members of the group and to prepare to teach the rest of the class about their findings.

Part C: 6:00-6:40 Learning from the roundtable, different understandings of the themes, acknowledging the diversity of teachings among us, and affirming them: we have a choice of interpretations. (If needed DP presents or affirms a 3rd interpretation in each case.)



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