Spring 2023


Dr. Rebecca Esterson
Mondays and Thursdays 11:10am-12:30pm

While much of the academic study of the Bible since the rise of historical criticism has tended to focus on the cultural, religious, linguistic, and political setting of the text’s authors and redactors, a complementary approach explores how the Bible has been interpreted in the generations since its authorship. Often phrased “reception history” the study of the history of biblical interpretation considers the life of biblical texts post-antiquity. The class will begin with a consideration of “inner-biblical exegesis” or the way in which later parts of the Bible reinterpret or allude to earlier parts. Taking our cue from the Bible itself, we will consider interpretation a fundamentally biblical activity, and will engage commentaries, art, poetry, and homilies spanning the millennia and across religious traditions. We will sample a range of methods and interpretations, from Classical rabbinic and early Christian typological interpretations, to postmodern feminist and ecocritical commentaries. Readings will include selections from Rashi, the Zohar, Teresa of Avila, and William Blake. Written assignments will include a mid-term analysis of a work of art, and a final paper on one or more cases of biblical interpretation in light of the course themes. Auditors with Faculty Permission


Dr. Devin Zuber
Thursdays 2:10pm-5pm

This is a follow-up to “Intro. to Swedenborgian Thought,” though that prior module is not a prerequisite. This seminar explores the impact of Swedenborg’s thought in cultural history, with a particular focus on how his ideas of gender and sexuality were received by later readers, sometimes in quite heterodox and non-heteronormative ways. We begin with a close reading of Swedenborg’s controversial 1768 treatise on love (Amor Conjugialis), placing that work within larger contexts of 18th century understandings of gender and sexuality. We then follow the reception history of this strand in Swedenborg, with readings drawn from the poet William Blake, French novelist Honore Balzac’s gender-bending *Seraphita*, American feminists Margaret Fuller and Julia Warde Howe, as well as some contemporary queer theorists (Judith Butler, Juan Muños). This course completes part 2 of the requirements for a Certificate in Swedenborgian Studies. Guest speakers; two reflection papers, one final research paper. MDiv, MA, PhD students can upgrade [Auditors with Faculty Permission]


Drs. Kamal Abu-Shamsieh and Rebecca Esterson
Wednesdays 9:30-11am

This course is co-taught by Kamal Abu-Shamsieh and Rebecca Esterson. This course explores interreligious and inter-cultural approaches to end-of-life among diverse communities. Death is a multi-faceted experience and has various implications: physical, theological, ethical, legal, communal, familial, and personal. Students will study how death is understood and what rituals are practiced when dying, and during funerals, burial, and grief. Students are expected to join a synchronous class once a week from 9:30am-11am, and to engage in asynchronous activities (reading, online posting, two reflection papers, and a final research paper). Students will examine their own end-of-life beliefs and traditions, and articulate their understanding of how their views prepare them to care for diverse communities. Open to MDiv, MA/MTS, DMin, and PhD students. Auditors with faculty permission.