This course name and description ONLY applies to academic year 2016-2017

THEO 13183-3: Theology University Seminar

This course is not currently available. Please visit the Courses section for current offerings.

Instructor: Randall Zachman

The focus of this course will be an examination of an enduring problem within the Christian tradition: that is, what is the meaning of the history of Israel for our understanding of God, Jesus Christ, and ourselves? The various Christian communities seem to have a divided mind about the centrality of Israel to our understanding of God and Christ. On the one hand, they all preserve Israel’s Scriptures as part of their authoritative canon of Scripture, which ensures that almost eighty percent of Christian Scripture deals directly and exclusively with the relationship of God to Israel. On the other hand, the major Christian confessions of faith pass directly from the creation of heaven and earth to the Incarnation of the Son of God, thereby leaping over the entire history of God’s relationship with Israel. This eclipse of the history of Israel is reinforced by the catechetical instruction of the various churches, which tends to move quite directly from the creation of humanity and its subsequent fall into sin to God’s response to sin by the sending of the Son to become human. The result is that Israel is bypassed or eclipsed altogether, and Christ is made normative for the identity of God.

This course will take a different approach to this question. Rather than assuming that Christ is the normative disclosure of the identity of God, we will begin by taking the witness of the Scriptures seriously, which consistently claims that God’s relationship to Israel is essential to the identity of God. We will examine how the relationship of God to Israel develops over time, as the various traditions of Israel’s past come to be woven together in the narrative of Scripture, and will pay special attention to the various covenants God makes with Israel, especially those made with Abraham, Moses, and David. We will then examine the apostolic witness to the person and work of Jesus Christ, seeing Christ in light of the history of Israel, and asking the question of the continuity and discontinuity of Christ with the history of Israel.

The course therefore has the following five objectives:

  1. To develop a grasp and appreciation of the multiplicity and complexity of the various traditions represented in the texts of Scripture;
  2. To come to a serious encounter with the way God’s relationship to Israel is essential to the identity of God;
  3. To be able to place Jesus Christ and the Church in the context of God’s relationship with Israel, rather than vice versa;
  4. To be able to pose and answer critical questions of the texts of Scripture which unleash the dynamic power of its testimony, so that it addresses us directly in ever new ways;
  5. To begin to appreciate the legitimacy of the two traditions of Biblical interpretation which arise after the fall of the second Temple, rabbinic interpretation based on the law, and episcopal interpretation based on the unconditional promises of God.