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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Undergraduate Course: Historical Jesus (DIVI10067)

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
SummaryAn analysis of modern efforts to portray Jesus in historical terms, with focus on particular scholarly studies and issues (e.g. trial of Jesus).
Course description Academic Description:
What was the historical Jesus really like? This course looks at modern efforts to find the historical man behind the Christian gospels, focussing on particular aspects of his life (his Galilean context, his healings, apocalyptic teaching etc) and asking what historical factors led to his death.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
The course will start by situating Jesus in his Galilean context, looking at the history of the area and its level of Hellenisation. Next, we look at sources for the historical Jesus - how reliable are the canonical gospels? Can any other sources be brought into the discussion? After this, we shall look at a number of topics from Jesus' life and ministry: his birth, abilities as a healer and exorcist, teaching, and relations with other holy men (particularly the Pharisees). Finally we shall look at the reasons for his death, and the empty tomb traditions.

Student Learning Experience Information:
The class will meet once a week for a two-hour seminar. Most seminars will be student led (with a 10 minute presentation), followed by class discussion, directed by the course lecturer. Sometimes we will have book reviews, and there will also be a debate (on how far Jesus was 'apocalyptic.' Besides class reading, students will be encouraged to read two contrasting recent portraits of the historical Jesus, and to be aware of the range of views of Jesus on offer within modern scholarship. Participants will demonstrate their achievement of intended learning outcomes through seminar presentations and contributions, the class essay, and the final exam.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Historical Jesus (BIST10042)
Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 Divinity/Religious Studies courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an appreciation of the historical difficulties in reconstructing the life of Jesus.
  2. Gain an ability to handle primary sources and distinguish between historicity, rhetoric, and theology;
  3. Show an awareness of the relative values of canonical and non-canonical texts for historical reconstruction.
  4. Show a sound understanding of the contributions of modern scholars in this area, and an appreciation of the way in which scholars' own social, political and cultural contexts have shaped their interpretation of Jesus over the last century.
  5. Demonstrable an ability to identify key terms and their meanings, and good judgement about how to judge the relative importance of items on course bibliographies.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Empathy and imaginative insight, with a tolerance of diverse positions
- Independence of mind and initiative
- Ability to attend to others and respect others' views
- Capacity to modify, suspend or otherwise change position when warranted
- Ability to gather, evaluate and synthesise different types of information
- Analytical ability and the capacity to formulate questions and solve problems
- Writing skills, including clear expression and citing relevant evidence
- Presentation skills, both oral and written, supported by appropriate technologies
- Electronic communication and interaction in various forms and accessing information from a variety of sources
- Teamwork skills
- Ability to engage critically with the meaning of documents and recognise that meanings may be multiple
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Helen Bond
Tel: (0131 6)50 8923
Course secretaryMiss Rachel Dutton
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227
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