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«Interaction and text courses (Holy Scriptures, Cosmology and Eschatology,  Asceticism and Monasticism)   ...»

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Interaction and text courses (Holy Scriptures, Cosmology and Eschatology, 

Asceticism and Monasticism)  

Interaction: Holy Scriptures, Judaism, Christianity, Islam (10 ECTS) 

Course content

The course covers the following topics:

·      The contents and the composition of the Bible and the Qur’an

·      The Christian, Jewish and Muslim views regarding the nature of their respective sacred books

·      The historical process of canonisation in Judaism, Christianity and Islam ·      The various uses and functions of the scriptures in Judaism, Christianity and Islam ·      Hermeneutical strategies with respect to the scriptures in each of the three religions Time period Teaching from week 35 to 49 with break for the long compact seminar in Rome; compact seminar 26th to 29th of October;

deadline for paper: 31st of January Responsible teacher and institution Einar Thomassen (einar.thomassen@ahkr.uib.no), University of Bergen Learning outcome

On completion of the course the student will have attained the following:

Knowledge Good familiarity with the Bible and the Qur’an and the roles played by holy scripture in Judaism, Christianity and Islam as well as with critical scholarship on the processes and the nature of canonization in the three religions.

Skills The ability to analyse a religious theme on a comparative basis. The ability to distinguish between a faith-based and a scholarly approach to the study of religious phenomena. The ability to do an in-depth study of a specific topic in the area covered by the course and to present this study in a written paper.

General qualifications The ability to work independently in the comparative study of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The ability to communicate one’s knowledge in written and oral form.

Prerequisites The same as for admission to the programme as such.

Course activities ·      Compact seminar, including student presentations in groups and teacher-guided dialogue and/or lectures.

·      Tutorials.

·      Distance learning, with written assignments.

Examination form If the student has participated regularly, actively and satisfactorily in a course (this includes participation in the compact seminar and response to at least 80 % of the in-term assignments), she or he may choose between a free and a fixed written examination. A student failing to fulfil these requirements must sit a fixed written exam.

In the free written examination, the student writes a paper of between eight and ten pages on a subject, question or material chosen by the student and approved by the responsible teacher.

In the fixed written examination, the student is given a week to write a paper of between eight and ten pages on a subject, question or material provided by the responsible teacher.

The paper will be graded according to the scale A-F, as applied at Norwegian universities.

If the examination paper is found unacceptable (grade F), the candidate is allowed to make two further attempts by sitting a fixed written exam at a date decided by the teacher.

The deadline for submitting both the free and the fixed written exam is 31 January, 2011.

Required reading Wilfred Cantwell Smith, What is Scripture? A Comparative Approach (Minneapolis: Fortress 1993; repr.

2005). Chapters 1–5, 9–10. (Ca. 240 pp.) William A. Graham, Beyond the Written Word (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1987). (Ca. 240 pp.)  Philip R. Davies, “The Jewish Scriptural Canon in Cultural Perspective.” In L. M. McDonald and J.A. Sanders (eds.), The Canon Debate (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson 2002), 36–52.   Steve Mason, “Josephus and his Twenty-Two Book Canon.” Ibid., 110–127.  Harry Y. Gamble, “The New Testament Canon: Recent Research and the Status Quaestionis.” Ibid., 267–

294.  Everett R. Kalin, “The New Testament Canon of Eusebius.” Ibid., 386–404.  John Barton, Holy Writings, Sacred Text: The Canon in Early Christianity (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox 1997). (Ca 200 pp.)  Einar Thomassen, “Some Notes on the Development of Christian Ideas about a Canon.” In E. Thomassen (ed.), Canon and Canonicity: The Formation and Use of Scripture (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press 2010), 9–28.  Dimitris J. Kyrtatas, “Historical Aspects of the Formation of the New Testament Canon.” Ibid. 29–44.  Robert M. Grant with David Tracy, A Short History of the Interpretation of the Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress 2005; orig. publ. 1984). (Ca. 200 pp.)  Andrew Rippin (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to the Qur’ān (Oxford: Blackwell 2009). (Ca 500 pp.)  Registration On Aula at the first tutorial, no later than the first week of September. The students will also be registered at the University of Bergen, The Faculty of Humanities, where the course is given the code RRE302.

Please also sign up for the compact seminar if you intend to take part by writing to Einar Thomassen (einar.thomassen@ahkr.uib.no) Cosmology and Eschatology in the Formation of Judaism and Christianity  (Interaction course)  Autumn 2010. Helge S. Kvanvig & Gitte Buch-Hansen

Course Content

“We are dealing, in the fourth century, with a sensibility that was at once more somber and yet more stable in its expectations where the locus of the supernatural was to be found. The Christian bishop, the Christian 'holy man', the physical remains of the Christian martyr, stands out all the more clearly because the upward ceiling of human contact with the divine has come to be drawn more firmly. For the Christians of the fourth and fifth centuries, the power that came from contact with the supernatural was not for everyone to use.” (Peter Brown, 1978. The Making of Late Antiquity. p.98) In his seminal book, The Making of Late Antiquity, Peter Brown describes the political and social revolution that the centralization of power in the late Empire occasioned. According to Brown, this development was accompanied by a corresponding revolution in religion and cosmology; heaven was closed and became a spatially and temporally distant place. Religiously, this meant that the ordinary and intimate access to the divine was now concentrated with the clergy;

cosmologically, the intermediary space between heaven and earth was emptied of the prolific life of intermediary being and beings. Before the closure of heaven, angles could incarnate, and human beings – or at least their soul – could assume an angelic or astral mode of being. The life of the intermediary sphere was reflected in apocalyptic mythology and in Greek philosophical cosmology. The apocalyptic worldview had its origin in Early Judaism and was especially connected to the Enoch tradition. The world view of the Enoch literature differed from the Mosaic traditions that shaped the Hebrew Bible and the branch of Judaism in dialogue with Hellenistic philosophy. The Enoch literature adopted a mythic image of the world and gave this image an eschatological horizon. Both worldviews, the apocalyptic and the philosophical, appear in New Testament writings. The Gospel of Matthew belongs to the apocalyptic tradition, whereas the Gospel of John is more philosophically inspired. Paul blends the two traditions. Thus, the early Christians formed their cosmology and theology in dialogue with both Hellenistic philosophy and Jewish apocalyptic eschatology. The aim of the course is to reflect on how human life and experiences are portrayed in these differing cosmologies in Early Judaism and Christianity.

–  –  –


Term paper (free or fixed) must be handed in before January 31st 2011. The paper must be between 8 and 10 pages (2400 characters pr. page).

If the student has participated regularly, actively and satisfactorily in the course (see below), she or he may choose between a free and a fixed written examination. A student failing to fulfil these requirements must sit a fixed written exam.

• In the free written examination, the student writes a paper of between eight and ten pages on a subject, question or material chosen by the student and approved by the responsible teacher.

• In the fixed written examination, the student is given a week to write a paper of between eight and ten pages on a subject, question or material provided by the responsible teacher.

• In the case of a free written examination: The title of the paper and the suggestion for additional syllabus must be submitted at the latest December 10th to be approved by the teachers.

• In the case of a fixed paper: Suggestion for additional syllabus must be submitted at the latest December 10th to be approved by the teachers.

Resposible teacher and institution:

• Resposible teacher: Helge S. Kvanvig (h.s.kvanvig@teologi.uio.no) Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo.

• Co-teacher: Gitte Buch-Hansen (gitte.buch-hansen@teologi.uio.no) Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo.

Learning outcomes:

Through the course the student will acquire:

• comprehensive knowledge about the various world views that shaped Early Judaism and Christianity,

• insights into the scholarly discussions related to the sources and influence that made the New testament writings,

• skills in reading and reflection on a material representing world views different from those that became mainstream Christianity and Judaism,

• ability to communicate such knowledge and demonstrate such skills in writing.

–  –  –

• The teachers will provide guided readings electronically.

• The teachers will give 6 exercises during the term; the student has to respond to at least 5 of these by a small essay and must participate in the compact seminar in order to qualify for the free examination. The 6 essays will be commented individually by the teachers.


The same as for the programme in general, i.e. no particular language specified. But there will be references to texts where the primary language is in Greek or Hebrew.


–  –  –

Books marked with an asterisk must be bought. The rest of the literature will be provided through compendium (either in a paper version or electronically).

Primary sources:

*1 Enoch. A New Translation by G. W. E. Nickelsburgand J. C. VanderKam. 2004. Minneapolis.

The Works of Philo. Complete and Unabridged. Translated by C. D. Yonge. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers.

The Nag Hammadi Library. The Definitive Translation of the Gnostic Scriptures. Edited by J. M. Robinson. New York.N.Y.:

HaperSanFrancisco. HaperCollinsPublishers.

Origen. Commentary on the Gospel According to John. The Fathers of the Church. Translated by Ronald E. Heine. Washington, D.C. The Catholic University of America Press.


Secondary literature:

Brown, Peter. 1978. The Making of Late Antiquity (Jackson Lectures). Cambridge Massachusetts. Harvard University Press.

Buch-Hansen, Gitte. 2010. It is the Spirit That Gives Life. A Stoic Understanding of Pneuma in John. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Carr, D. M. 1996. Reading the Fractures of Genesis. Historical and Literary Approaches. Louisville, Kentucky.

Collins, J. J. 1997. Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls. London.

*Engberg-Pedersen, Troels. 2010. Cosmology and the Self in the Apostle Paul. The Material Spirit. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kvanvig, H. S. 2007. "Cosmic Laws and Cosmic Imbalance: Wisdom, Myth and Apocalyptic in Early Enochic Writings." In The Early Enoch Literature, edited by G. Boccaccini and J. J. Collins, 139-58. Leiden.

_____ 2009. "Enochic Judaism - a Judaism without the Torah and the Temple?" In Enoch and the Mosaic Torah. The Evidence of Jubilees, edited by G. Boccaccini and G. Ibba, 163-77. Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Levision, John R. 1995. “The Prophetic Spirit as an Angel According to Philo”. HTR 88, 2.

Lundhaug, Hugo. 2008. ”Fødsel, transformation og opstandelse som en Kristus. Filipevangeliets rituelle fortolkning af Johannesevangeliet”. In Mellem venner og fjender. En folkebog om Judasevangeliet, tidlig kristendom og gnosis. Eds.

Anders Klostergarrd, Jesper Hyldahl & Einar Thomassen. Copenhagen: Anis.

*Nickelsburg, G. W. E. 2003. "Apocalyptic Construction of Reality " In 1 Enoch, George W. E. Nickelsburg in Perspective, edited by J. Neusner and A. J. Avery-Peck, 29-43. Leiden, 2003.

_____ “Enochic Wisdom and Its Relationship to the Mosaic Torah.” In The Early Enoch Literature, edited by G. Boccaccini and J. J. Collins, 81-94. Leiden.

Reed, A. Y. 2005. Fallen Angels and the History of Judaism and Christianity. The Reception of Enochic Literature. Cambridge.

*Segal, Alan. 2004. Life after Death. A History of the Afterlife in the religions of the West. New York: Doubleday.

Tronier, Henrik. 2001. The Corinthian Correspondence between Philosophical Idealism and Apocalypticism. In Beyond the Judaism/Hellenism Divide. Ed. Troels Engberg-Pedersen. Louisville, Kentucky. Westminister John Knox Press. 165-196 (32p.).

*VanderKam, J. C. 2008. Enoch. A Man for All Generations. Paperback ed. Colombia, South Carolina.

*_____ 2001. An Introduction to Early Judaism. Grand Rapids, Michigan 2001Scott, Alan. 1991. Origen and the Life of the Stars. Oxford: Oxford University Press Recommended reading sequence Material marked with an asterisk are recommended as part of the student's syllabel. Those without an asterisk belong to the fixed syllabel.


Introduction to Early Judaism:

*VanderKam J. C. 2001. An Introduction to Early Judaism. Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1-127, 138-146, 147-192. (172 p.)

Introduction to the idea of afterlife:

*Alan Segal. 2004. Life after Death. A History of the Afterlife in the religions of the West. 1-248 (248 p.) Introduction.

- The Undiscovered Country.

Part One

- The Climate of Immortality.

- Egypt.

- Mesopotamia and Canaan.

- The First Temple Period in Israel.

Part Two.

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