St. John’s University, Queens Campus, Spring 2015

Section 11450: 9:05 - 10:30am Mon and Thu, MAR 432

Dr. Matthew Lewis Sutton

Associate Professor of Systematic Theology

Office: St. John’s University, Queens Campus, St. John’s Hall B20–27

Student Hours: Before and After Class: 8:30 - 9:00am; 1:45 - 2:45pm Mon and Thu, or by appointment

718.990.5052 | suttonm[at]stjohns[dot]edu | | @doctorsutton

Your Course Website:

Undergraduate Bulletin: “An introduction to Christianity highlighting belief statements, practices, scripture, rites, theological writings, artistic expressions, and other discourses manifesting and expressing the Christian faith in its various traditions through its development. Credit: 3 semester hours.”

This course provides the student with an introductory encounter with the Christian biblical tradition and a sustained focus on the central figure of Christianity, Jesus Christ. The student will attain a foundational biblical and theological literacy of the Christian Bible and see how its structural, canonical narrative interprets the world, the human person, and the nature of God. The student will also gain a greater appreciation of the historical, cultural, and theological foundations of the Christian faith.

By the conclusion of the course, the student should be able:

  • to articulate (in writing and speaking) knowledge of the Catholic Christian faith, the Bible, and the important characters, events, and ideas of Christian history
  • to analyze critically scripture and other theological texts pertaining to Christianity
  • to appreciate intellectually the Bible’s foundational place in Christianity

Course Texts: Required:

  • Bible, must be an appropriate translation for academic work, such as the RSV, NRSV, NAB, NABre, NIV, ESV, NKJV. (recommended translation The Ignatius Bible (Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition). Second Edition. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780898708349 Paperback or Kindle . If you have questions, see me.
  • Early Christian Writings, trans. Maxwell Staniforth and Andrew Louth. New York: Penguin Books, 1987. ISBN: 978-0140444759. Paperback, or Kindle
  • Athanasius. On the Incarnation. Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press. Paperback. 1996. ISBN: 978-0881414271. Paperback, Kindle, or Online

Course Structure:

The course will be structured with three major units that are foundational for understanding Christianity. The first unit will focus on understanding the theology of the Old Testament with particular focus on early Judaism's foundational beliefs about God, the human person, and world. The second unit will focus on understanding Jesus as presented in the Gospels as well as the rest of the New Testament. This intense focus on mastering what Jesus wanted and who he was will give the student an initial mastery of Christianity as well as a foundation for critical thinking about the influence of Jesus' teaching in the history of ideas and cultures. The third unit will be focused on Early Church theologies of Jesus Christ. This will help the student understand the foundational beliefs of the first generations of Christians.

Learning Assessment:

In this course, you can earn 100 points. You earn these points by successfully completing the following:

  • Class Participation: active engagement = 12 points
  • Encountering Christianity Assignment Sheets = 22 points (1 point per sheet)
  • Encountering the Psalms Assignment = 1 point
  • Occasion of Joy Exams = 25 points (3 exams)
  • Occasion of Exploration Research Paper = 10 points
  • Occasion of Jubilation Final Cumulative Exam = 30 points

Professor sends grade reports at the beginning of every month.

Grading Scale:

A = 100 - 93 points (100 - 93%) A- = 92 - 90 points (92 - 90 %) B+ = 89 - 87 points (89 - 87%) B = 86 - 83 points (86 - 83%) B- = 82 - 80 points (82 - 80%) C+ = 79 - 77 points (79 - 77%) C = 76 - 73 points (76 - 73%) C- = 72 - 70 points (72 - 70%) D+ = 69 - 67 points (69 - 67%) D = 66 - 60 points (66 - 60%) F = 59 - 0 points (59 - 0%)

We are at our best when:

  • We act with Academic Integrity, which means no plagiarism, no cheating, no damaging of other people’s work, and no assisting someone else’s dishonesty. Plagiarism is the act of appropriating and using the ideas, writings, or works of another person as your own making without giving proper citation to the person who created it. I will follow the university’s procedure for plagiarism and discipline to the highest extent allowable by this procedure, which can include an “F” for this course and the act of plagiarism noted in your academic file. Any further offenses entail suspension or expulsion.
  • We are Actively Engaged with each other. As a student, you must attend class regularly, attentively, and promptly with readings and assignments completed. As a professor, I must be available to you for encouraging and guiding you to excel in your education. St. John’s College mandates “Regular and prompt attendance is expected of all students and is an individual student’s responsibility. Absence from class does not excuse a student from any work missed. There is no penalty for absence from class considered in itself. Students are, however, responsible for all announced exams and for submitting all assignments given in class at the proper time. Ignorance of such exams and assignments is not an acceptable excuse for failure to complete them.”
  • You are responsible for everything said in class. You are responsible for getting class notes from another student. Only after you have received and read those notes can you contact me with further questions about the class.
  • We do not use any Digital Devices during class time such as cell phones, text messaging, mp3 players, or laptops unless the professor gives clear approval. If you do not follow this policy, you will not be able to earn participation points for the class meeting. If it continues to be a problem, your overall point total will be reduced according to the severity of your lack of engagement. ASK PERMISSION IF YOU NEED TO USE A LAPTOP FOR NOTE TAKING.
  • We turn in our Assignments and Papers promptly as directed by the professor. Even if you are absent, you are still responsible for turning in your assignments by the beginning of class or as directed. If your assignment is late, your grade for that assignment will be lowered at least by 10% for each day that it is late. Your grade will be lowered more the later the assignment.
  • We attend prepared for all Exams and the Final Cumulative Exam and these should not be missed. If you cannot make an exam, you must consult me in advance and receive clear approval from me. No make-up exams will be given unless you receive clear approval beforehand or as determined by me. Since the dates of the exams are clearly communicated to you, it is unlikely that you will receive approval.
  • We learn because we are human and we desire to know the truth about the divine, the world, and ourselves. We strive for Excellence without Excuses.