What does it mean to be human? This course examines a variety of Christian theological responses to that question. After a brief survey of the history of theological anthropology, we engage contemporary proposals for reconstructing this doctrine with regard to social location and the ethical dimensions of theological imagination. Special attention will be given to how notions of embodiment, agency, and relationality have become fundamental to current perspectives on being human, producing both liberative and problematic results.
Further the process of developing student fluency in the vocabulary and concepts distinctive to Christian theological discourse.
Course Requirements (At a Glance)
Critical Analysis Presentation 15%
Theological Anthropology Profile 10%
Final Paper 50%
Course Requirements (Detailed Descriptions)
Class Participation and Attendance (25% of grade): The discipline of theology is not merely a study of the history of certain ideas. More importantly, it is an ongoing conversation among persons who are commonly committed to addressing theological problems and questions about what it means to live faithfully in the context of day-to-day life. For that reason, active engagement in online discussions and full attendance during Gathering Days are two essential components of this course. Both the quality and depth of theological conversation depend heavily on the voices involved. Students should enter into online discussions and come to in-class sessions having read all the assigned readings for that day and having thoughtfully considered the key ideas and arguments presented in those readings. For more on what makes a proper contribution to class discussion, see "Policies on Academic and Collegial Integrity."
The evaluation of a student’s weekly contributions to online discussion forums includes a quantitative requirement. In a typical week, a student ought to contribute at least 3 posts to the current forum, the first reacting to a classmate’s Critical Analysis Presentation and discussion questions (see the section below for details) and the others simply being organic and engaged comments or questions. Students are encouraged to post more than this if they would like. The quantitative requirement is just a minimal threshold meant to keep all students active in the course on a weekly basis. Each first post is worth 5 points, and both subsequent posts are worth 2.5 points. In most instances, a post that is on topic and on time will receive full points. The “Course Rhythm” section of the syllabus provides further instructions concerning the basic mechanics of online conversations.
Critical Analysis Presentation (15% of grade): Beginning in Week 2, each student will take a turn helping the instructor lead class discussion. In a typical week, the students who have signed up for that week will make a parent post in the discussion forum consisting of 750-1000 words. This contribution will critically engage a portion of a required text in a way that helps shape the substance and direction of class discussion. In this parent post, the student must:
As part of the process of organizing these contributions, students should use the electronic sign-up sheet on Canvas at their earliest convenience. Further instructions about when these papers must be submitted and how other students ought to engage them may be found in the “Course Rhythm” section of the syllabus.
NOTE: There will be no Critical Analysis Presentations in Weeks 1, 5, or 6.
Theological Anthropology Profile (10% of grade): There is only so much time in a 10-week seminar to explore the recent history of Christian theological anthropology. For this reason, students may find themselves wanting to know more about a modern theologian's understanding of what it means to be human than the assigned readings cover. This short assignment is an opportunity to dig deeper into the relevant thought of a 20th-to-21st-century Christian thinker. This is intended to be a more fun, low-stakes assignment. Each student must submit a written document of 650-750 words that provides information about the following:
During our on-campus sessions at Gathering Days, each student will present the results of their research to the rest of the class and field questions about the material. The instructor will evaluate a profile based on: a) the clarity and internal coherence of the written report, b) the effective use of research materials and, c) the general quality of the in-class presentation.
Students are free to choose which primary and secondary sources to consult when composing this profile. Whatever resources one chooses, a Works Cited/Bibliography page needs to included. Any well-known citation format is acceptable (Chicago, MLA, APA, etc.), as long as its use is accurate and consistent. As part of the process of organizing these presentations, students should make their contribution to the sign-up sheet on Canvas at their earliest convenience. This page includes necessary information for selecting both the content of the profile and the day of its presentation.
The written document must be submitted by 11:59 pm MT (1:59 am ET) on Wednesday, February 13th.
Final Paper (50% of grade): As in many topical seminars, the last and most heavily-weighted assignment will be a research paper. This paper may take the form of the constructive proposal of a theological anthropology, a close reading and critique of an assigned text, or any other topic for which the student receives instructor approval. This project will be completed in two stages:
In addition to the information provided under "Policies & Services" (see Canvas menu to the left), students should be aware of the following policies, which are specific to my courses.
Policy on Late Assignments
Written Documents: An assignment submitted after its stated deadline will incur a penalty of 5% the assignment’s total value for each 24-hour period it is late. If the instructor does not receive the assignment within 72 hours of its deadline, it will receive no points.
Forum Posts: A Critical Analysis Presentation posted after the Monday deadline will incur a penalty of 10% the assignment’s total value. If a Critical Analysis Presentation still has not been posted within 24 hours of its deadline, it will receive no points.
If a student does not make the first discussion post by the Thursday night deadline, one point will be deducted from the student’s weekly discussion grade for each day the post is late.
Policies on Academic and Collegial Integrity
All students are expected to abide by Iliff’s statement on Academic Integrity, as published in the Masters Student Handbook. Any detected plagiarism or cheating on an assignment will result in an automatic penalty of an "F" for that assignment. All participants in this class are expected to be familiar with Iliff’s Core Values.
Proper online and in-class participation consists of contributions that facilitate the stated objectives for this course. The purpose of our learning community is to equip each student to articulate a theological perspective and to demonstrate understanding and generosity toward each of our peers, not in the absence of disagreement and passion, but in the midst of them. Accomplishing this purpose demands that all students do their best to discipline themselves concerning the content, frequency, and spirit of what they say:
Required Course Texts
M. Shawn Copeland. Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Grace, and Being. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2009.
Serene Jones. Feminist Theory and Christian Theology: Cartographies of Grace.
Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000.
Ian A. McFarland. The Divine Image: Envisioning the Invisible God. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress
Hans S. Reinders. Receiving the Gift of Friendship: Profound Disability, Theological
Anthropology and Ethics. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.,
F. LeRon Shults. Reforming Theological Anthropology: After the Philosophical Turn to
Relationality. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2003.
"Recommended" Course Texts
[NOTE: Most or all of the content of these books will be assigned reading in the course. However, they can be accessed for free as ebooks through the Ira J. Taylor Library. (Use the links below.) They are "recommended" in the sense that purchasing them is optional; securing access to them remains necessary.]
Isaiah Berlin. The Roots of Romanticism. Edited by Henry Hardy. Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1999. [The ebook is the 2nd edition.]
Patrick Cheng. Rainbow Theology: Bridging Race, Sexuality, and Spirit. New York: Seabury Books, 2013
*All other assigned readings will be made available through Canvas.*
Recommended Additional Resources
These texts are part of the Ira J. Taylor Library reference collection
Patrick W. Carey and Joseph T. Leinhard, eds. Biographical Dictionary of Christian Theologians. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000.
Justo L. González. Essential Theological Terms. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005.
Donald K. McKim. Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, 2nd Edition. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014.
Ian A. McFarland, et al., eds. The Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Donald W. Musser and Joseph L. Price, eds. New and Enlarged Handbook of Christian Theology. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2003.
These texts belong to the the combined Iliff/DU library collection
Rebecca S. Chopp and Mark Lewis Taylor, eds. Reconstructing Christian Theology. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1994.
Marc Cortez. Theological Anthropology: A Guide for the Perplexed. New York:
Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2010.
David Ford and Rachel Muers, eds. The Modern Theologians: An Introduction to Christian Theology Since 1918, 3rd edition. Madden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2005.
Peter C. Hodgson and Robert H. King, eds. Christian Theology: An Introduction to Its Traditions and Tasks. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994.
Serene Jones and Paul Lakeland, eds. Constructive Theology: A Contemporary Approach to Classical Themes. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005.
Ed. L. Miller and Stanley Grenz. Fortress Introduction to Contemporary Theologies. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1998.
Donald W. Musser and Joseph L. Price, eds. A New Handbook of Christian Theologians. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1996.
Laurel C. Schneider and Stephen G. Ray, Jr., eds. Awake to the Moment: An Introduction to Theology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016.
NOTE: The contents of this schedule are subject to change
Part I: Establishing a Historical and Conceptual Framework for Theological Construction
Week 1 – Introduction: Relationality, Romanticism, and the Expressivist Turn
Week 2 – Bringing Theology into the Conversation
Week 3 – Considerations for Theological Reconstruction
Week 4 – Complicating the Framework: Gender and Disability
Week 5 – Gathering Days – Complicating the Framework: Sexuality and Race
Room: Iliff Hall 202
Part II: Engaging Constructive Proposals in Theological Anthropology
Week 6 - Brief Considerations of Humanity in Ecological Context
THEOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY PROFILE DOCUMENT DUE
PROSPECTUS FOR FINAL PAPER DUE
NOTE: Discussion forum closes Friday, March 15th, the official end of winter classes
FINAL PAPER DUE by 11:59 pm MT (1:59 am ET) on Monday, March 18th.
|Week||Assigned Reading||Student Presenter|
|2||Shults, Ch. 5||Georgia Metz|
|Shults, Ch. 6||Deb Metcalf|
|3||Shults, Ch. 8||Paul Michalec|
|Shults, Ch. 9||Brad Palmer|
|Shults, Ch. 10||Trevor Vaughn|
|4||Jones, Ch. 2||Sara Lattimore|
|Reinders, Ch. 2||Zach Bechtold|
|7||Jones, Ch. 3||Stephanie Hanslow|
|Jones, Ch. 7||Dante J. Baca|
|8||Copeland, Ch. 2||Andrea Kennedy|
|Copeland, Ch. 4||Sarah Atamian|
|9||McFarland, Ch. 3|
|McFarland, Ch. 4||Kevin Garman|
|10||Reinders, Ch. 6|
|Reinders, Ch. 7||Beth Menhusen|
|Date||Student Presenter - Theologian Name|
|Sample||Carol Danvers - J. Kameron Carter|
|February 8th||Paul Michalec-Raimon Panikkar|
|Stephanie Hanslow - James Cone|
|Brad Palmer- George Lindbeck|
|Deb Metcalf- Delores Williams|
|Sara Lattimore- Rosemary Radford Ruether|
|Kevin Garman- Charles Hartshorne|
|February 9th||Sarah Atamian - Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz|
|Georgia Metz- Karl Barth|
|Dante J. Baca - Mary Daly|
|Andrea Kennedy - Paul Tillich|
|Zach Bechtold- Jurgen Moltmann|
|Trevor Vaughn - Carl F.H. Henry|
|ST Mulder - Gustavo Gutierrez (YES!!!!!!)|
|Beth Menhusen- John B. Cobb, Jr.|
Options for Choosing a Theologian
|Chapter from Rainbow Theology, Part I||Student Reader|
|Ch. 1: "Queer of Color Theologies"||Deb Metcalf|
|Ch. 2: "Queer Black Theologies"||Sara Lattimore|
|Ch. 3: "Queer Asian American Theologies"||Georgia Metz|
|Ch. 4: "Queer Latino/a Theologies"||
Dante J. Baca
|Ch. 5: "Two-Spirit Indigenous Scholarship"||Sarah Atamian|
In my experience, providing students a clear rhythm for a typical class week helps them plan their time in the course more easily. Keep yourself to a regular rhythm as suits your schedule to avoid getting lost. Let me know if you have questions.
: The module for the current week becomes fully available at 6 pm MT (8 pm ET). The module will include an introductory video by the instructor. The remarks in this video are intended to help frame and inform class discussion.
Discussion forums also open at this time. Starting in Week 2, Critical Analysis Presentations are due by 11:59 pm MT (1:59 am ET) . (See the Critical Analysis Presentation assignment description and sign-up sheet on Canvas.) While all students will have access to the discussion forum at this time, only students providing a Critical Analysis Presentations should post before Tuesday. Conversation will benefit from waiting until all that week’s Critical Analysis Presentations have been posted.
The deadline for all other written assignments in the course will be 11:59 pm MT (1:59 am ET) on a Monday night. (See Course Calendar for details.)
Tuesday Morning : The week's discussion forum is officially open to all students. There will be only one discussion forum in a typical week (Weeks 1 and 5 being the exceptions). Students should watch the instructor’s video introduction to the module and read all Critical Analysis Presentations before making their first posts.
Thursday Night : Each student’s first discussion post is due by 11:59 pm MT (1:59 am ET) . This should be a 150-to-250-word response to one of that week’s Critical Analysis Presentations. Strong posts will directly address the content of a Critical Analysis Presentation, responding to its exposition of an assigned reading and/or attempting to answer the question(s) it poses. Students should not feel the pressure to make these posts mini-essays in their own right; they should simply be relevant and meaningful statements in an academic conversation. Also, posts may exceed the upper limit stated here. However, keep in mind that the longer a post runs, the more likely it is to put off classmates.
Friday : Having given students ample opportunity to engage one another first, the instructor will read all posts made up to that point and contribute as necessary.
Sunday Night : All other discussion posts are due by 11:59 pm MT (1:59 am ET) , when that week’s forum closes. Each student must provide at least two additional responses per forum (three total) - no length limits. This is a bare minimum requirement; even more posts across any or all of the forum’s threads are encouraged. The only posts that will be marked down are those that are late (see Late Policy) or stray too far afield in their content (also see Policies on Academic and Collegial Integrity).
Weekly round-up. After reading over the weekend’s posts, the instructor will post a response video in that week’s module. This response will summarize key points raised during discussion and revisit ideas from the readings that may deserve further attention. Students should watch this video before moving on to the next week’s module or forum. The course rhythm starts over later that evening.
Week 5 Exception (Gathering Days)
There will be no online discussion forums during the week of February 4 th . There will still be assigned readings, but the work we do with that material will take place in on-campus sessions on February 8 th and 9 th . Our assigned room is Iliff Hall 202.
|Jan 11, 2019||Fri||Week 1 First Post Reminder||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 11, 2019||Fri||Week 1: Self-Introduction||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 12, 2019||Sat||Sign-Up Sheets||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 14, 2019||Mon||Week 1: Historical Considerations||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 18, 2019||Fri||Week 2 First Post Reminder||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 21, 2019||Mon||Week 2: Bringing Theology into the Conversation||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 25, 2019||Fri||Week 3 First Post Reminder||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 28, 2019||Mon||Week 3: Considerations for Theological Reconstruction||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 01, 2019||Fri||Week 4 First Post Reminder||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 04, 2019||Mon||Week 4: Complicating the Framework - Gender and Disability||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 09, 2019||Sat||Week 5 Gathering Days Reminder||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 14, 2019||Thu||Theological Anthropology Profile||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 15, 2019||Fri||Week 6 First Post Reminder||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 18, 2019||Mon||Week 6: Humanity in Ecological Context||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 22, 2019||Fri||Week 7 First Post Reminder||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 25, 2019||Mon||Week 7: Serene Jones||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 26, 2019||Tue||Final Paper - Prospectus||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 01, 2019||Fri||Week 8 First Post Reminder||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 04, 2019||Mon||Week 8: M. Shawn Copeland||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 08, 2019||Fri||Week 9 First Post Reminder||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 11, 2019||Mon||Week 9: Ian McFarland||due by 05:59AM|
|Mar 15, 2019||Fri||Week 10 First Post Reminder||due by 05:59AM|
|Mar 16, 2019||Sat||Week 10: Hans Reinders||due by 05:59AM|
|Mar 19, 2019||Tue||Final Paper - Final Draft||due by 05:59AM|