This course will study the relation between faith in God and the capacities of human reason. The main topics will be the relation between faith in God and morality, religious experience, the problem of evil, the nature of faith, the traditional proofs for the existence of God, miracles and science, immortality, and religious pluralism.
The Psalter is the hymn book of the Bible. The 150 psalms have been an integral part of both Jewish and Christian musical traditions, and over the centuries they have inspired countless composers to create important works. The course will explore the richness and power of the Psalter through an examination of the relationship between Scripture and music. What happens to the biblical text over time and as it is interpreted in different musical and religious traditions?
This course combines engaging study of the Bible with some of Yale’s greatest treasures, delivered to you virtually! Each class is divided into two sections. The first part of class we will engage biblical texts around the theme of wonder. The second part enriches our learning with a related online tour of one of Yale’s stunning collections, guided by world-class experts. Visits include “trips” to the Peabody museum, Yale British Art Museum, and the Yale Babylonian Collection, showing art and artifacts not seen in previous BAA courses. We will grow in knowledge and love of the Bible, while discovering the relevance and experiencing the vitality of Scripture.
Some scholars have argued that the letter to the Romans is so unclear that it must be a pastiche of letters or the product of a confused, contradictory writer. We will together make sense of the letter in its historical context as a Jewish Paul articulates (not entirely clearly) how it is that God’s justice and mercy extend to Jews and also to all the nations (ethnē, from which we get our term ethnicity).
Being Christian and leading Christians is a stiff challenge in a polarized age. How are we to pray, preach, teach, lead, or just do church in ways that honor the various perspectives in our groups, while maintaining integrity and boldly proclaiming what light we have? Oddly enough, Bible study can help us here. While it has often been weaponized by one side or the other, the Bible is politically and theologically multi-vocal. The ideological inclusiveness of the canon is actually quite stunning. In this course we will channel the early rabbinic notion that there’s such a thing as “disagreement for the sake of heaven” (Mishnah Avoth 5.17) and imagine a diverse church thriving in our divided land.
This course delves into the mid-eighteenth-century Protestant evangelical revival in New England from the perspective of one of its major figures, Jonathan Edwards, pastor of Northampton, Massachusetts, an epicenter of transatlantic evangelical culture at the time. During the decade from 1734 to 1744, Edwards oversaw two “awakenings” in his congregation and participated in many other such religious episodes across New England and beyond. Edwards’ experience as a pastor, as apologist, and as critic reveals how the revivals ebbed and flowed, ultimately lending to long-lasting divisions in American religious life and providing a basis for modern evangelicalism on the one hand and liberal theology on the other.
The course involves study of Book of Exodus focusing on its narrative sections, and especially on the biography of Moses and the female characters in his story, with sensitivity to Christian and Jewish interpretations of this material. The method of the course is to practice close reading of the materials in English translation. We will also consider musical expressions of the narratives and themes of Exodus, including the recording “Exodus” by Bob Marley and the Wailers (1977).
The theologies of Howard Thurman and Paul Tillich and selected short readings on the concept of love will offer us much to reflect upon, as we consider–in a confidential setting–our own spiritual journey and living in a complex and stressful global world. We will mine what these readings have to offer regarding our own work, spiritual path, sense of self, and role as citizens.