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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Undergraduate Course: Jesus in Film (DIVI10055)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis 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.
Course description Academic Description:
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.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
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. Each student in the class will attend one hour of in-person class time per week, either on campus or online if they are self-isolating, ill, or not resident in Edinburgh. Pre-recorded lectures and other materials will be available on Learn. Students will demonstrate their achievement of the intended learning outcomes through class participation, a 500-word blog entry analysing one of the films, a 1500-word essay, and a final take-home exam.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Jesus in Film (BIST10049)
Other requirements Students who have previously taken the following course MUST NOT enroll: Jesus in Film (BIST10049)
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting 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? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 170 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 30 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 10% - Class participation (including 500-word analysis of one week's readings in the form of a blog entry)

30% - Essay (1500 words)

60% - Exam
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a familiarity with the diverse roles of the figure of Jesus in 20th/21st century cinema.
  2. 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.
  3. Demonstrate an ability to engage in scholarly debates by analysing scholarly arguments and developing their own.
  4. Demonstrate an ability to provide a sophisticated analysis (in written form) of cinematic portrayals of Jesus in modern cultural, theological, and political contexts.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Capacity for reflexive learning
- Capacity to modify, suspend, or otherwise change position when warranted
- Ability to gather, evaluate and synthesise different types of information
- Technological and media literacy, including the generation of documents and other resources
- Awareness of the importance of contemporary media as both a study resource and a discussion medium
KeywordsJesus,Gospels,New Testament,Film,Popular Culture
Course organiserDr Philippa Townsend
Course secretaryMiss Rachel Dutton
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227
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