course description

Students will consider the possible relationship between conceptions of the good life, drawn from exegetical and theological interpretation of the narrated life and teaching of Jesus, and the students’ own visions of the good life and other current perspectives, supported by an analysis of varied aspects of human life in contemporary societies Students will engage a thematic reading of the Gospel of Luke, organized around the Gospel’s core themes and touch-points with key concrete phenomena of human experience. The guiding questions are: What does it mean for Christ to be the key to human existence? What does a flourishing life look like if Jesus Christ is taken to be the key? The principal objectives are three: students will be equipped to wrestle with the formal question of the relation between Christ and human life drawing on the gospels (with particular focus on Luke) as source texts for articulating this relation; students gain insight into the way their visions of Jesus and of the good life are shaped by their cultural contexts; students come away better able to articulate their own vision of flourishing in dialog with the figure of Jesus and the relation between his life and theirs, as each student understands it.

Semester Overview

Week 1

Course Introduction
  • Luke 9:18-27; Romans 6:1-14
  • Hans Frei, “A Meditation for the Week of Good Friday and Easter”
  • Willie J. Jennings, “Introduction,” The Christian Imagination, 1-11

Week 2

Why Visions of True Life Matter (Or: The Pearl of Great Price)
  • Matthew 13:44-53; Luke 4:1-12, 5:1-11, 17:20-33; Romans 14:1-23
  • Charles Taylor, The Ethics of Authenticity, 1-29
  • Matthew Croasmun & Miroslav Volf, For the Life of the World, 11-34,
  • David Foster Wallace, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” 256-268
  • Howard Thurman, “Jesus – an Interpretation” & “Epilogue,” Jesus and the Disinherited, 1-25, 100-102

Week 3

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’?”
  • Matthew 7:24-28; Luke 6:17-49, 10:25-37, 14:25-33, 18:18-26; John 9:24-41, 10:1-18, 11:25-27, 12:20-26; Philippians 2:5-11
  • John Webster, “Christology, Imitability and Ethics,” Scottish Journal of Theology 39:3, 309-326
  • Dorothy Day, “Why,” “Wheat and Cockle,” and “Your Three Objections,” From Union Square to Rome, 1-17, 143-173
  • Matthew Croasmun & Miroslav Volf, For the Life of the World, 45-147
  • James Cone, Speaking the Truth, vii-viii, 4-8.

Week 4

Home as a Cradle of Our Humanity
  • Luke 2:39-52, 4:16-30, 9:28-36, 9:51-62, 14:12-14, 15:11-32, 16:1-9, 18:28-30; 1 Peter 2:4-8; 1 John 4:7-21, Revelation 21
  • Ryan McAnnally-Linz & Miroslav Volf, “Cadbury Lectures”
  • Monique Valeris & Lucia Tonelli, “How To Marie Kondo Your Home in 2019,” ElleDecor.com
  • Dorothy Day, On Hospitality, 20-26
  • Taylor, The Ethics of Authenticity, 31-41
  • Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, LXVII

Week 5

Birth & Expectation
  • Luke 1:1-3:38, 12:49-53, 13:31-35, 14:25-27, 18:15-17; John 3:1-16, 16:16-24; 1 Peter 2:1-2
  • Jürgen Moltmann, “The Promise of the Child,” In the End—the Beginning, 1-18
  • Aldous Huxley, A Brave New World, chs. 1-2
  • Radiolab, “G: Unnatural Selection” [click for audio or transcript]
  • Frances Young, Face to Face, 8-68
  • Julian of Norwich, “The Kind, Loving Mother,” Revelations of Divine Love, Ch.LX

Week 6

Call & Responsibility
  • Luke 1:5-80, 2:1-35; 3:1-22, 4:1-30, 9:1-6, 9:21-27, 10:1-20, 10:38-42, 12:49-53, 13:6-9, 14:25-33, 19:1-27, 21:1-4; 1 Peter 1-2:10, 3:8-12
  • Charles Taylor, Ethics of Authenticity, 43-80
  • Dorothy Day, “May 10th,” On Pilgrimage
  • Søren Kierkegaard, “The Listener’s Role in a Devotional Address,“ and “What Then Must I Do? Live as an ‘Individual’,” & “Occupation and Vocation; Means and End” Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing
  • Miroslav Volf, “Work, Spirit, and New Creation,” Work in the Spirit, 88-122

Week 7

Freedom & Bondage
  • Luke 4:31-44, 6:1-5, 7:1-10, 8:22-39, 9:43b-50, 11:14-23, 11:27-28, 11:37-54, 16:10-13, 17:1-10, 20:20-26, 21:7-18, 22:14-46; John 8:31-38; Romans 7:14-25
  • Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited, 26-78
  • Saba Mahmood, Politics of Piety, 10-17
  • James Cone, “The Gospel of Jesus, Black People, and Black Power,” Black
  • Theology & Black Power, 31-43
  • Taylor, Ethics of Authenticity, 81-121

Week 8

Forgiveness & Justice
  • Luke 6:27-38, 7:36-50, 11:1-4, 12:8-12, 15:11-32; 17:1-5; 18:1-14, 22:63-23:49
  • Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited, 79-99
  • Jonah Engel Bromwich, “Everyone Is Cancelled,” The New York Times, June 28th 2018 (Watch embedded video by Kimberly Foster)
  • Imaculée Ilibagiza, Left to Tell, xix-xx, 3-12, 37-44, 73-94, 129-135
  • James Cone, “The Gospel of Jesus, Black People, and Black Power,” & “Reconciliation,” Black Theology & Black Power, 43-61, 143-152
  • Miroslav Volf, “How Should We Forgive?” Free of Charge, 157-191

Week 9

Boredom & Entertainment
  • Luke 6:20-25; 7:24-33, 10:21-37, 11:29-36, 12:35-48, 12:54-56, 17:20-24, 21:25-36; 24:13-35; Matthew 22:1-14; Mark 6:21-28; Ecclesiastes 2:1-3:15; Ephesians 5:1-20; Philippians 4:4-9; Revelation 2:1-5
  • David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest, 33-37, 54, 78-79, 87, 105-109, 317-321 / The Pale King, 78-85, 437-438
  • Simone Weil, “Reflections on the Right use of School Studies with a View to the
  • Love of God,” Waiting for God, 105-116
  • C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, XII-XIII
  • Lars Svendsen, A Philosophy of Boredom, 11-48

Week 10

Sickness & Healing
  • Job 2:1-13; Luke 4:16-30, 5:12-32, 7:11-23, 8:26-56, 9:1-6, 10:1-12, 13:10-17, 17:11-19; James 5:1-19
  • Martin Luther, “Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague”
  • Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, chs 1-3, 64-68
  • Aldous Huxley, A Brave New World, chs. 16-17
  • Yuval Harari, Homo Deus, 1-3, 19-55

Week 11

Mourning & Death
  • Luke 2:25-38, 6:20-25, 7:11-17, 8:40-56, 9:21-27; 17:20-37, 22:1-23:56; Matthew 9:14-15, 24:3-31; John 14:1-31, 16:4-33; Romans 12:14-15; 1 Peter 4:13-19; James 4:9; Revelation 1:4-8, 12-18, 2:8-11, 9:1-6, 21:1-8
  • Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God, 267-90 and “Expectations”
  • C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, ch. 4.
  • Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, chs. 8-13, 15
  • Mark O’Connell, “600 Miles in a Coffin-Shaped Bus, Campaigning Against Death Itself,” NY Times, February 9, 2017

Week 12

Joy & Fear
  • Luke 1:11-79, 8:22-56, 10:17-24, 12:4-34, 15:1-32, 19:35-44, 21:25-28, 24:1-53; Matthew 10
  • Gustavo Gutiérrez, We Drink from Our Own Wells, 114-21
  • C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy, ix-x, 1-19, 159-175, 205-230
  • Marianne Meye Thompson, “Reflections on Joy in the Bible” in Joy and Human Flourishing
  • Frank Furedi, How Fear Works: Culture of Fear in the Twenty-First Century, “Introduction” & “Conclusion: Towards a Less Fearful Future”
  • Julian of Norwich, Showings, chs. 20, 24, 25, 64.
  • Christian Wiman, “The Cancer Chair”
Christ Pantocrator, stars rotating
"There are not many classes like this one at Yale Divinity School. It was thoroughly theological while being completely practical. It developed my intellectual ability and my personal faith ... One of the best courses at YDS."

Yale Divinity Student / Christ & Being Human 2019

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