THE 2400: CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY AND MYSTICISM

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

Section 79624: 10:40am - 12:05pm Tue and Fri, SJH 204

Dr. Matthew Lewis Sutton

Associate Professor of Systematic Theology

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

Student Hours: 8:30 - 9:00am; 1:45 - 2:45pm Tue and Fri, or by appointment

718.990.5052 | suttonm@stjohns.edu | doctorsutton.net | @doctorsutton

Your Course Website: doctorsutton.net/the2400

Undergraduate Bulletin: “Prerequisite: THE1000C. An study of the spiritual dimensions of humanity based on the religious nature of human beings, the Christian tradition, and modern interdisciplinary insights regarding human nature. Credit: 3 semester hours.”

This course provides the student with an introductory encounter with Christian spirituality and mysticism and a sustained focus on the central figure of Christianity, Jesus Christ. The student will attain a foundational biblical, historical, and theological literacy of the central themes of Christian spirituality and mysticism. He or she will see how Christian belief in the particularity of Jesus Christ as the way to the Father in the Holy Spirit affects how Christians interpret the world, the human person, and the nature of God. The student will also gain a greater appreciation of the historical, cultural, and theological developments of the Christian faith.

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

  • to articulate (in writing and speaking) a knowledge of the development of Christian spirituality with its foundations in the Bible and Early Church Age
  • to analyze critically scripture and other theological texts pertaining to Christian spirituality and mysticism
  • to appreciate intellectually the central and diverse saints, events, and ideas of Christian spirituality

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,Kindle
  • Olivier Clément. The Roots of Christian Mysticism. Translated by Theodore Berkeley. Second Edition. Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1995. ISBN: 9781565484856. Paperback
  • The Way of the Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way. Translated by Helen Bacovcin. New York: Doubleday, 1978. ISBN: 9780385468145. Paperback, Kindle
  • Thomas Merton. The Seven Story Mountain: an Autobiography of Faith. New York: Harcourt, 1948. ISBN: 9780156010863. Paperback, Kindle

Course Structure:

The course will be structured with four major units that are foundational for understanding Christianity spirituality and mysticism with an excursus on spirituality of art and beauty. The first unit will focus on understanding the biblical foundations of spirituality with particular focus on the person of Jesus Christ. The second unit will focus on studying the Early Church foundations of Christian spirituality by intense reading of several primary sources from ancient Christianity. The third unit will explore themes in Eastern Orthodox spirituality, particularly the Hesychast movement. The fourth unit will introduce and develop contemporary Catholic monasticism and mysticism. Above all, the units will help to shape the student's understanding of central themes, persons, events, and ideas of Christian spirituality and mysticism.

Learning Assessment:

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

  • Class Participation: active engagement = 10 points
  • Encountering Christianity Assignment Sheets = 25 points (1 point per sheet)
  • Encountering the Psalms Assignment = 1 point
  • Occasion of Joy Exams = 25 points (3 exams)
  • Occasion of Exploration Research Paper = 9 points
  • Occasion of Jubilation Final Cumulative Exam = 30 points

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 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, 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 inappropriately during class time such as cell phones, text messaging, mp3 players, tablets, or laptops. 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 OR TABLET FOR NOTE TAKING AND READING ASSIGNMENTS.
  • 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 continue to be lowered to zero at my discretion until it is submitted.
  • We attend Prepared for all Exams and the Final Cumulative Exam and these should not be missed. If you cannot attend 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.