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University of Creation Spirituality
Doctor of Ministry Degree/Certificate Program

May 2004 Intensive
May 23-28 2004 NY

Seminar: Rabbi Jesus©† - # 60058

Instructor: Bruce Chilton

Faculty Bio: Bruce Chilton (Ph.D. from Cambridge, 1976) is a scholar of early Christianity and Judaism, who authored the first critical translation of the Aramaic version of Isaiah (The Isaiah Targum, 1987), as well as academic studies that analyze Jesus in his Jewish context (A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible, 1984; The Temple of Jesus, 1992; Pure Kingdom, 1996). He has taught in Europe at the Universities of Cambridge, Sheffield, and Münster, and in the United States at Yale University (as the first Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament) and Bard College. Currently Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard, he also directs the Institute of Advanced Theology there. Throughout his career, he as been active in the pastoral ministry of the Anglican Church, and is presently Rector of the Church of St. John the Evangelist. His most recent books are Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography (2000) and Redeeming Time: The Wisdom of Ancient Jewish and Christian Festal Calendars (2002).

Photographs and some additional information available at:

http://www.bard.edu/iat/admin.html and http://inside.bard.edu/religion/faculty.html

Course Description: Recent study of the material and cultural contexts of ancient Israel has advanced critical understanding of Jesus, but the religious context of Jesus and his movement has received short shrift. In this course we will investigate Jesus, not just as a product of first century Galilee, but also as a committed Israelite, and analyze the visionary disciplines that lie at the heart of his announcement of the divine kingdom, his therapeutic arts, his parabolic actions and sayings, as well as his death and resurrection. We proceed along the narrative order of his life, (day 1) conception, birth, and nurture, (day 2) his association with and break from John the Baptist, (day three) his emergence in Galilee as exorcist, healer, and prophet, (day four) his confrontation with Roman as well as cultic authorities in Jerusalem, (day five) his execution and post-mortem appearance to his disciples.


The overall objective this seminar is to help students to read with an awareness of anthropology, archaeology, ancient history, hermeneutics, politics, and religious experience as they encounter the Gospels and the question of Jesus. Only such a comprehensive reading, in Dr. Chilton’s view can do justice to the question.

Day 1 involves coordinating findings of anthropology with an exegesis of the texts of Jesus' birth and upbringing.
Day 2 involves assessing the practice of bathing in ancient Judaism as reflected by archaeological discoveries and ancient sources outside the New Testament.
Day 3 involves the hermeneutical task of relating exorcisms, healings and prophetic signs -- all well attested in antiquity -- to our current understanding of spirituality.
Day 4 involves an analysis of the political forces -- Roman, priestly, Pharisaic, Judean, and Galilean -- that all focused on
Jerusalem and the Temple.
Day 5 involves reading the texts of Paul and the Gospels in order to trace the religious experiences of the earliest Christians in their historical context.

Required Reading:

1.                  Bruce Chilton, Rabbi Jesus. An Intimate Biography (New York: Doubleday, 2000)

2.                  Leander E. Keck, Who is Jesus?: History in Perfect Tense. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001)

3.                  Jonathan L. Reed, Archaeology and the Galilean Jesus. A Re-examination of the Evidence (Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 2000)

4.                  Bruce Chilton and Jacob Neusner, Judaism in the New Testament. Practices and Beliefs  (London and New York: Routledge, 1995).


Suggested Reading:

1.                  John Meier, A Marginal Jew: rethinking the historical Jesus (New York: Doubleday, from 1991 in several volumes)

2.                  John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus. The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (San Francisco: Harper, 1991).

3.                  Bruce Chilton, Pure Kingdom. Jesus’ Vision of God:  Studying the Historical Jesus 1 (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids and London: SPCK, 1996)

4.                  K. C. Hanson and Douglas E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus. Social Structure and Social Conflicts (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998)

5.                  Joan E. Taylor, The Immerser: John the Baptist within Second Temple Judaism: Studying the Historical Jesus 2 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997).

Pre-Class Writing Assignment:         Choose one of the following: 5 pages

  1. How would you explain Jesus’ impact as an exorcist or a healer in his time? Are his therapeutic arts transferable to other epochs?
  2. Does Jesus’ Judaic identity undermine or enhance his standing as a spiritual teacher of humanity as a whole?
  3. Why do you think the mystical motivation of Jesus has only been discussed in the most recent critical work on him?

Post-Class Writing Assignment:                   10 pages

Subjects will flow from your readings, discussion in seminar, and consultation with the instructor.

©†  Fulfills Mystic requirement

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