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Divinity Courses 2008-2009
(as of July 28, 2008)
The letter “a” following the course number denotes the fall term; the letter “b” denotes the spring term.
REL 661a, Genesis and Its Afterlife. This course will offer a close analysis of both primary and secondary characters in the book of Genesis. Along with attention paid to the biblical narrative, we will look at the interpretations given these characters first in Jewish and Christian exegetical traditions and then in their subsequent “afterlife” in secular literature. Looking at the cycle of stories within Genesis (Primeval history, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph), we will see how characters can exemplify the greater purpose of the sacred text and yet often stand in tension (and even at odds) with that purpose. In the commentary traditions, we will assess how religious communities variously interpreted these figures. Then, by turning to imaginative literature, we will explore how these same figures have been reinterpreted and refashioned in poetry and prose. Peter S. Hawkins and Victoria Hoffer.
REL 736a, Canticum Novum: Music’s New Song in Worship-from Bible to Baroque. Embracing the period from biblical times until around 1750, the interplay between theology, liturgy and music is explored. Theological shifts lead to developments in liturgical form and content, which in turn necessitate changes in the music of worship. Biblical principles and practices form the background of the course, which then proceeds chronologically through the continuity and discontinuity between Jewish and early Christian worship, the impact of medieval monasticism, the revolutions of renaissance humanism and reformation theologies, culminating with the post-Tridentine ecclesiastical period of the 17th and 18th century in which many subsequent Catholic and Protestant traditions were formed. Robin Leaver.
REL 781b, The Worship Mall. This course will explore current trends in worship which either claim to be, or are perceived to be, responses to the culture of global late modernity/postmodernity. It will explore some characteristics of present global culture, spirituality of Gen Y, and the culture of consumerism. It will consider such forms of worship as Seeker Services, Praise and Worship music and the Contemporary worship music industry; the Vineyard and Hillsong Churches and their songs; neo-Celtic worship in the light of the known history of Celtic Christian worship; alt.worship; Emerging worship; and Liquid worship. It will look at recent Roman Catholic thinking and especially the thought of Aidan Nichols, and Liturgiam Authenticam; and it will look at Blended worship, Hip=Hop worship and the U2 eucharist. It will also consider inculturation and worship in African Independent Churches; and the Minjung Church. It will also consider the relationship between culture and counter-culture in the snake-handling sects of Appalachia. Bryan D. Spinks.
REL 782a, Foundations of Christian Worship. This course combines theological and historical approaches to the study of worship. The first part of the course is concerned with the basic elements of worship such as time, space, words, scripture, music etc. The second part gives an outline of the historical development of worship from the New Testament to the present. The course is the ISM/YDS introductory course for liturgical/worship studies. It is recommended for students preparing for ordination or other responsibilities in worship leadership. It is strongly recommended that students take this course PRIOR to other liturgy/worship courses that are offered. Students will be required to read theological and historical introductions to worship, attend a worship service of a tradition significantly different from their own, write two mid-term papers, and complete the final exam. Teresa Berger and Bryan D. Spinks.
REL 783a, Daily Prayer: Liturgical Developments, Theological Principles, Contemporary Practices. This seminar proposes for intellectual inquiry the rich tradition of rhythms, materials, and practices of daily prayer that have developed and continue to develop in the life of the church. The course is organized around three main foci: First, we will attend to questions of historical development (aided by a look at some of the key studies that have appeared on the subject in recent years). Second, we will analyze basic theological convictions and material sources that have shaped practices of daily prayer and study one particular office in more depth. Third, we will turn our attention to the contemporary context (and also take note at least of forms of daily prayer and devotion in Christian communities that do not have authoritative fixed patterns). Our own times witness intriguing disjunctions when it comes to daily prayer, and this seminar will address questions of how cultural context and especially contemporary material culture shape the practice of daily prayer and devotion in our time. Teresa Berger.
REL 785b, Face of Death: Worship, Music, Art. Two quotes delineate the intellectual space this course seeks to claim. The first quote comes from the words that traditionally accompany the imposition of ashes in the Ash Wednesday Liturgy: “Remember, you are dust, and to dust you will return.” The second quote comes from a recent New York Times book review: “[T]here is something about American culture that doesn’t want to accept death as a fitting end to life.” In between these two fundamental positions – on the one hand, the stark confrontation with death, and the other the labored avoidance of human mortality -- this seminar proposes for intellectual inquiry the rich traditions that worship, music, and the visual arts have created and continue to offer in the face of death. Our focus in this seminar will be on the Christian faith tradition. With this course, we seek to offer an innovative approach to team-teaching at ISM and thus to strengthen the interdisciplinary vision of the ISM curriculum. Teresa Berger and Markus Rathey. / see the syllabus
REL 786b, Liturgical Theology. This course is intended as an introduction to public reflection on the meaning of Christian worship and to the diverse ways in which a number of liturgical theologians have approached that public work. Gordon Lathrop.
REL 787a, The English Reformation Liturgical Traditions and the Evolution of the Anglican Books of Common Prayer. This course considers the liturgical reforms in England, official and unofficial, that gave rise to the Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregationalist, Quaker, and Methodist traditions from 1540 to 1789, looking at liturgical books, theological issues, architecture, music and preaching. The second part of the course focuses on the Anglican Prayer Book tradition from 1789 to the present, and compares the 1979 ECUSA Book of Common Prayer with that of another Anglican Province. This course is required of all Berkeley Divinity School students seeking the Diploma of Anglican Studies; however, the course is designed foe students of all denominations, with non-Episcopal students comparing their own denominational book with the 1979 Prayer Book. Bryan D. Spinks.
REL 796b, Christian Marriage: Biblical Themes, Theological Reflections, and Liturgical Celebrations. This is an exploration of the celebration of marriage, combining some biblical exegesis and theological reflection with close examination of the evolution of the liturgical rites. It looks at some foundation biblical passages, and it considers the Jewish religious matrix and the Roman and Germanic legal setting of early Christian marriage. Examination is made of the theology of marriage in selected writings and sermons, ancient and modern, and study of the structure and theology of the marriage rites in the Eastern Orthodox, East Syrian, and Maronite Churches. The history of the Western marriage rites is traced from the early sacramentaries through to the 1614 Ritual, as well as the theological background and rites of the major Reformation traditions, together with some customs of a more social nature. Modern marriage rites in American churches will be compared. Selected recent books on Christian marriage will be read. Bryan D. Spinks.
REL 835a, Iconography of Christian Art. The object of the course is to have students start to SEE theologically and realize that seeing is believing. If Christ is the IMAGE of God (Colossians 1:15) and the goal of faith a Beatific Vision, then Christianity is more a visual experience of Presence and encounter than an abstract set of theories. Eye-training is essential for any church member, no matter to what denomination or tradition one belongs. This course will dare to say that image shapes belief and attitude, as well as being shaped by belief. The course will also act as an historical survey of the visual presentation of the Trinity, Christ, Mary, Chruch and saints, as well as issues like the Last Judgement, reward, punishment, etc. Jaime Lara.
Latin American Art & Architecture: 1491-1820. The course, formerly known as “Baroque Catholicism,” deals with Mexico and Peru from the arrival of the Europeans to the Independence period. Attention will be paid to the cooperative work of natives and friars in the construction and decoration of churches. Questions of religious syncretism and deliberate inculturation are raised. Issues of colonialism, race, gender and class will also be dealt with in the context of the visual religious culture of the times by an examination of the colonial “casta (caste) paintings.” Jaime Lara.
REL 847a, The House of the Lord.
The objectives of this course are to prepare future ministers and pastoral personnel to understand and design/redesign their worship spaces. This is VISUAL ECCLESIOLOGY, not interior decoration. The course will also act as an historical survey of twenty centuries of church design for preaching and sacraments, and demonstrate how sacred space has shaped theology and liturgical practice, as well as being shaped by them. Although there are no prerequisites, it is hoped that students know something about Scripture and Christian worship, particularly that of their own religious tradition. The course will consist of illustrated lectures. Requirements and evaluation to include intensive reading, class participation and presentation, several short papers, and group visits to sacred spaces downtown. Jaime Lara.
REL 850a-b, Dante's Journey to God. This course on the Divine Comedy will be a reading of the entire text in the light of what it purports to be – a journey toward the vision of God. Such an approach does not mean dissolving the narrative in allegory or ignoring literary considerations in favor of theology: it means taking full account of the poem as a path with a divine destination. Special interest will be paid to how Dante transforms his pagan as well as Christian sources, how deeply he assimilates the Bible and its interpretative traditions, and how boldly he attempts to establish his own text as a "sacred poem." Peter S. Hawkins.
REL 856b, Religious Themes in Contemporary American Poetry. The course will look at a variety of 20th-century American poetry that in one way or another engages traditional religious texts, imagery, and practices. We will begin with Wallace Stevens (1879–1955) and his challenge to and reinterpretation of Christianity in such poems as “Sunday Morning,” “Evening Without Angels,” and “St. Armorer’s Church from the Outside,” as well as in the prose collection, The Necessary Angel. From Stevens we will turn to an assortment of contemporary poets who write within Christian or Jewish contexts: Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, Jacqueline Osherow, and Franz Wright. Peter S. Hawkins.
REL 859b, Reel Presence: Explorations in Liturgy and Film
We live in an intensely visual culture, and film – as a key component of contemporary visual culture – shapes not only the broader cultural imagination but also our own inner lives. Films thus function both as “entertainment” and as significant “meaning-makers.” Faith communities cannot and do not stand apart from this, witness but the frequency with which illustrations taken from films turn up in homilies. Interestingly, Christian liturgy and religious ritual are present in many contemporary
films. These “reel presences” are the subject-matter of this course, which will focus on worship as it comes to be constructed and reflected in the
medium of contemporary film. Representations of worship in films are never value-neutral, they carry within them re-readings and –interpretations of this core element of ecclesial life. How, then, do film-makers image, exploit or advance assumptions about Christian worship?
In this course, films will be seen as theologically and liturgically “pertinent texts” (Irena S. M. Makarushka), that can be interrogated. To sharpen our ability to “read” and interrogate the construal of Christian worship in popular films, each film/scenes will be paired with readings from the field of liturgical studies which illumine the topic embedded in the filmic (sub-)text on liturgy. Together, the film scenes and readings will open a space for dialogue on contemporary cultural concerns and insights about the meaning of liturgy. The class will pursue questions like the following: How does a particular film image religious ritual and its power (both positive and negative)? Where are glimpses of redemption, and how do these glimpses relate to worship? Where is Divine Presence in the film? Who
‘makes’ liturgy, who ‘consumes’ liturgy? How is worship shaped by markers of difference (ethnicity, race, class, gender, age, etc.)? What are liturgy’s material conditions? Is worship in this film a modus loquendi for something else (e.g. belonging, or exclusion)? What work do the
liturgical/ritual scenes do in this film? What is worship paired with in this film (think of the famous baptism-killing sequence in The Godfather), and for what purpose? Why do contemporary cultural productions code worship in this way? What is this film silent about, in terms of liturgy and ritual?
How might Christian faith challenge the film’s representation of worship? Conversely, how might someone who has just seen this film (say on a Saturday night) think differently about worship on Sunday morning? Given that films have becoming homiletic material, how could this film re-appear in a sermon? Teresa Berger / see the syllabus
REL 910a-b, ISM Colloquium. Martin D. Jean.
REL 911a-b, Marquand Chapel Choir. Patrick Evans.
REL 912a, Principles and Practice of Preaching. This is the introductory course in the theology, history, and practice of preaching. Special attention is given to biblical exposition, the congregational context, the appropriate use of experience, the development of a homiletical imagination, and engaging all the preacher’s gifts for communication. The course employs both lecture and smaller practica in which students deliver and analyze sermons. Thomas Troeger and Nora Tisdale.
REL 913a-b, Marquand Gospel Choir. Mark Miller.
REL 923b, Issues in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in Religion. This interdisciplinary course is required of all students in the WGSS concentration. The course will introduce students to the various histories, issues, methods, and theories that are relevant for women’s, gender, and sexuality studies in religion. By integrating several disciplines in this course, students will explore theoretical and practical ways these approaches inform understandings of the subject matter. The course will focus on key figures, movements, texts, images, and themes. The instructor(s) will coordinate this course with the participation of other faculty. Teresa Berger and Emily Townes.
REL 928a-b, Musical Skills and Vocal Development for Parish Ministry. The course is designed to equip students preparing for ministry with the vocal and musical skills necessary for planning and leading Christian worship in a wide variety of liturgical traditions. We will engage practical matters in congregational song, ways in which singing forms community, and strategies for helping the members of the assembly claim their own voices in a culture which privileges performance-quality individualism over the communal musicianship of the assembly. We will learn a diversity of musical and liturgical styles, including chant, psalm-singing, Sacred Harp, African-American and global song traditions in which the role of the enlivener is essential. The course will require field work in local congregations and will use the daily ecumenical worship in Marquand Chapel as a point of discussion. Patrick Evans.
REL 962a Preaching to the Whole Congregation through Multiple Ways of Knowing. The course begins with a theological anthropology of wholeness and explores multiple teaching and learning theories that can inform preaching. Students will preach sermons that employ the theories and reflect on how effectivel they engage the whole person. Thomas Troeger and Yolanda Y. Smith.