PHILOSOPHY 206 (SPRING 2011) – PHILOSOPHY OF THE BIBLE II: THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES
Instructor: Ted Stolze
Office Phone: 562-860-2451, extension 2774
Office Hours: MW 11-12, T 10-11
“Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in
—Paul (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)
This course is a general introduction to the philosophical, religious, cultural and historical
influences on the development of the Christian Scriptures. The methods of critical analysis of
Biblical materials from an academic point of view will be presented and discussed.
Richard Horsley, Jesus and the Powers: Conflict, Covenant, and the Hope of the Poor
(Fortress, 2010) = JP
The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 4th edition (New York: Oxford, 2010)
By the end of this course you should be able to do the following:
• Read primary biblical texts carefully and critically.
• Appreciate the distinction between reading the bible for devotional purposes and
reading it in its historical (economic, political, religious, and cultural) context.
• Defend your own interpretation of such important biblical texts as Jesus’ “Sermon on the
Mount” and Paul’s Letter to the Romans.
Student Learning Outcome:
At the completion of the course students will be able to understand and critically appreciate
the different methods of interpretation (historical, literary, cultural, and philosophical) of the
1. Show up regularly and on time. Be prepared to discuss the readings. You should
carefully read the assignment before class, noting difficult passages and writing down any
questions you’d like to pose in class. You should also briefly reread the assignment after class to
confirm that you now understand the author’s main points. NOTE: you must turn off all
electronic devices before class begins (unless you have a demonstrable need).
NOTE: I reserve the right to drop any student who is absent for more than four class
sessions during the semester. Also, if you leave class early without permission, you will be
considered absent for that session.
2. Take six surprise quizzes, based on the reading for that class session. I’ll drop the two
lowest scores, and the remaining four scores will count for 20% of your final grade.
3. Take two in-class exams, each of which will each count for 30% of your final grade. Each
exam will have an in-class objective component and a take-home essay component.
4. Write a short scholarly commentary (around 1000 words in length) on a passage from
one of the Gospels or the Letters of Paul we have read this semester. This paper will count for
20% of your final grade and is due in three installments: (a) an initial proposal (due on 2/28), (b)
a rough draft (due on 4/11), and (c) a final draft (due on May 2).
5. Final grades will be based on the following scale:
90 - 100 points A
80 - 89 points B
70 - 79 points C
60 - 69 points D
0 - 59 points F
NOTE: You should hold on to all graded work until the end of the semester in case there
turns out to be a dispute over your final grade.
6. Cheating and plagiarism are ethically unacceptable and will result in automatic failure
for a particular assignment. For the Cerritos College Academic Honesty/Dishonesty Policy, see
7. If you have a disability for which you would like to request an accommodation, you are
encouraged to contact both me and the Disabled Student Programs and Services at (562) 860-
2451 ext. 2335, as early as possible in the term.
Standards for Classroom Behavior and Discussion:
Our goal in this course is to achieve respectful philosophical dialogue in which everyone feels
affirmed in the value of his or her ideas and contributions to the class. This means not only that
we should speak in certain ways, but also that we should listen in certain ways. Respectful
philosophical dialogue demands that even if we strongly disagree with others, we should be
very careful not to speak in a way that demeans them or their ideas. We should instead engage
in active listening—a technique that helps us to be less defensive in responding to criticism or
disagreement. Mindful, active listening requires each of us to focus on the words of the person
speaking rather than on what we ourselves might want to say, and to reserve judgment until he
or she has finished speaking and we are sure that we really understand his or her perspective. At
the very least, active listening requires the following respectful behavior:
No side conversations, note-passing, or fiddling with your cell phone
Body language that indicates supportive attention (e.g., eye contact with the speaker)
No body language that is derisive (e.g., sighs, eye-rolling, muttering under your breath,
throw-away comments after the speaker is finished).
(I have adapted these standards from those developed by Johanna and Mark Brenner.)
Weekly Topics and Reading Assignments:
1/12 VIDEO ON THE HISTORICAL JESUS
1/17 NO CLASS – MLK DAY
1/19 JP, pp. 1-41
1/24 JP, pp. 43-61
1/26 JP, pp. 63-86
1/31 JP, pp. 87-108
2/2 JP, pp. 109-129
2/7 NO CLASS – STOLZE OUT OF TOWN
2/9 JP, pp. 131-153
2/14 JP, pp. 155-177
2/16 JP, pp. 179-204
2/21 NO CLASS – PRESIDENT’S DAY
2/23 JP, pp. 205-211
2/28 EXAM #1
(Paper Proposal Due)
3/2 Gospel of Mark
3/14 Sermon on the Mount
3/16 Sermon on the Mount
3/21 Gospel of John
4/4 Gospel of Thomas
4/9 1 Thessalonians
4/11 VIDEO ON THE HISTORICAL PAUL
(Rough Draft of Paper Due)
4/18-22 NO CLASS – SPRING BREAK
4/25 1 Corinthians
5/2 1 Corinthians
(Final Draft of Paper Due)
5/16 EXAM #2