Undergraduate Course: Jesus in Film (BIST10049)
|School||School of Divinity
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course explores the cultural and theological questions raised by diverse cinematic interpretations of Jesus' life, relating them to social, historical, and theological developments of the 20th/21st century, while also addressing the methodological issues involved in studying religion and film.
The course aims to enhance students' interpretation of films and appreciate the significance of the story of retellings of the life of Jesus in twentieth and twenty-first century cinema. From the beginning of the course, students will learn about select concepts and theories in film studies, while also exploring cultural and theological issues raised by the films. Particular attention will be paid to comparisons between the films and the gospel accounts/other ancient sources. The course will focus on the ways in which historical reconstructions of the life of Jesus have shaped cinematic portrayals and on how the study of cinematic treatments of Jesus helps us to reflect on biblical criticism and the construction of historical narratives.
The course will cover basic theoretical issues in the study of film, while familiarizing students with a range of important films about Jesus, ranging from Cecil B. DeMille's black and white film 'King of Kings', to comic and musical treatments including 'Life of Brian' and 'Jesus Christ Superstar', to controversial Hollywood depictions such as 'The Last Temptation of Christ' and 'The Passion of the Christ'. Themes that will be considered in our analysis of the films will include gender, anti-Semitism and orientalism, Zionism, imperialism and Communism, the relationship between religion and politics, and martyrdom.
Student Learning Experience Information:
From the beginning of the course, students will learn about select concepts and theories in film studies, while also exploring cultural and theological issues raised by the films. Particular attention will be paid to comparisons between the films and the gospel accounts/other ancient sources. Each week, we will focus on one film, which students will watch outside class time. The class will meet for two hours a week, and include lectures, class discussion, and analysis of selected film clips. Students will demonstrate their achievement of the intended learning outcomes through class participation and presentations, written critical responses to the films, a 2000 word essay, and a final exam.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||Visiting students should have at least three college/university level Divinity/Religious Studies courses at grade B or above, or the permission of the Course Manager.
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate a familiarity with the diverse roles of the figure of Jesus in 20th/21st century cinema
- Evidence an understanding of how these films fit into the cultural/social history of the 20th/21st century and an ability to relate the portrayal of Jesus in these films both to the history of artistic and narrative depictions of Jesus, as well as to ancient historical sources for the life of Jesus
- Demonstrate an ability to engage in scholarly debates by analysing scholarly arguments and developing their own
- Demonstrate an ability to provide a sophisticated analysis (in written form) of cinematic portrayals of Jesus in modern cultural, theological, and political contexts
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Keywords||Jesus,Gospels,New Testament,Film,Popular Culture
|Course organiser||Dr Philippa Townsend
|Course secretary||Ms Katrina Munro
Tel: (0131 6)50 8900