Jesus Christ: Yesterday and Today

Next Session: Jan 13, 2020

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Created by Dr. Joseph Wawrykow, a Notre Dame Theology Professor, for STEP. Christology is defined as critical theological reflection on Jesus of Nazareth. A Christology is constituted by the attempt to give a systematic account of the identity and significance of Jesus Christ, of who he is and why he is important. This course offers an introduction to Christology through the examination of the teaching of such leading theologians as Athanasius, Cyril of Alexandria, Anselm of Canterbury, Thomas Aquinas, Karl Rahner, and Jon Sobrino. Among the topics to be addressed in the course are: 1) the formulation in the patristic period of a teaching about Christ that is meant to be normative; 2) the adequacy of the patristic formulation; 3) and, the rise more recently of distinctive forms of Christology that depart, to varying degrees, from the classical formulation while trying to retain its basic insights.

Course Content

Unit 1

  • Introduction
  • Discussion of terms: incarnational Christology; "person" and "nature;" overview of major Christological controversies and responses from patristic writers and Councils
  • Selected readings: Athanasius, Cyril of Alexandria, Councils of Chalcedon and II Constantinople)

Unit 2

  • Analysis of writings of two leading incarnational theologians: Athanasius of Alexandria and Anselm of Canterbury
  • Selected readings: Athanasius, Anselm, and Aquinas

Unit 3

  • The incarnational Christology of Thomas Aquinas
  • Examination of excerpts of Aquinas' Summa contra Gentiles and Summa Theologiae
  • Selected readings: Aquinas: Summa Theologiae

Unit 4

  • Overview: Christology "from below"
  • Examination of modern critiques of classical, incarnational Christologies
  • Christology and the New Testament
  • Selected readings: John P. Meier, E.P. Sanders, the Gospel of Matthew

Unit 5

  • An examination of the Christology of two 20th century theologians: Karl Rahner and Jon Sobrino
  • Selected readings: Dominus Iesus

Course Format

  • Created by Notre Dame Theology Professor.
  • Six weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
  • Typically 15-20 students in each course.
  • Lecture delivered by video player.
  • All lecture text available online in course.
  • Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic, internet links provided for all readings.
  • Written assignments (150-200 words) required.
  • Facilitator moderated chat sessions with students in course.

Required Texts

  • All course materials are available online in the course.

Participation Requirements

  • View or read the lecture for each unit.
  • Read assigned texts; keep notes, questions, and comments for class discussion.
  • Participate in the class discussion using the Forums area: post at least 2 comments, questions, or responses per unit.
  • Write 150-200 words in response to the assignment in each unit.
  • Participate in at least 3 scheduled chat sessions throughout the course.
  • Complete the course evaluation.

Time Expectations

4 to 6 hours per week, depending on your learning style and schedule.

Course Certificate

A certificate of completion awarding 30 contact hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.

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Dr. Joseph Wawrykow

Dr. Joseph Wawrykow

The author of God's Grace and Human Action: 'Merit' in the Theology of Thomas Aquinas (1996), and co-editor of Christ Among the Medieval Dominicans (1998), Dr. Wawrykow specializes in 13th-century scholastic theology, in particular that of Thomas Aquinas. His current projects include a volume of translations in high medieval Christology (to be published by Catholic University of America Press, 2002); co-editing a collection of essays by leading North American and European scholars on Aquinas the theologian; and, a book-length study of the Christology of Aquinas that focuses on Thomas's pedagogical and literary strategies in teaching Christ. Recent honors include an Association of Theological Schools research grant, and designation by the University's Graduate School as one of thirteen Master Mentors of doctoral students. Since 1999, Dr. Wawrykow has served his Department as Director of Undergraduate Studies.

B.A. (Hons.) 1978, and M.A., 1980, University of Manitoba; M.A. and M. Phil., 1983, and Ph.D., 1988, Yale University

Rev. Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, O.P.

Rev. Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, O.P.

A Dominican priest and professor at the Ecole Biblique et Archeologique Francaise in Jerusalem, Father Murphy-O'Connor was a leading authority on freedom, grace and sin in the work of St. Paul, with a particular focus on the Corinthian letters. Among his 14 books are St. Paul the Letter-Writer: His World, His Options, His SkillsPaul of Tarsus: His StorySt. Paul: A Critical Life; and What is Religious Life? He also wrote The Holy Land: An Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700, now in its fourth edition, and published hundreds of articles in journals, dictionaries, encyclopedias and other publications. Born in Ireland, Father Murphy-O'Connor earned his doctoral degree from the University of Fribourg (Switzerland). He spent many summers teaching as a visiting scholar at universities worldwide, including at the University of Notre Dame.