Course Description and Objectives
The New Testament is a canonical religious text for millions of people today and has been regarded by many for centuries as prescribing normative beliefs and behaviors for Christians past and present. The precise nature of these normative beliefs and behaviors, however, has been deeply contested. This course examines the role of the New Testament in debates over marriage and sexuality. The first part of the course is devoted to the the New Testament texts and antiquity. We will begin by exploring the marriage and sexuality in the Roman world in order to understand the context in which the New Testament was written and read. We then will study early Christian attitudes toward sexuality and marriage in these texts and compare them with views held by other groups in antiquity. How did these views deviate from or challenge ancient Jewish, Greek, and Roman views? How did they conform? Are these texts uniform in their positions on marriage, sex, and the family? The second part of the course addresses the ways in which later Christians read and used the New Testament in their writings about marriage and sex. We will examine the role of the New Testament in the flourishing Christian monastic movement, in the legend and cult of Mary Magdalene in the medieval period, and the debates over marriage and celibacy during the Reformation. Finally, we will turn to contemporary conflicts over gays and lesbians in American churches, the role of wives in Christian marriages, and the required celibacy of Catholic priests.
Class preparation and participation: Students are expected to attend class each day prepared to discuss the assigned readings. This is not a lecture course. Class will begin promptly at 11:50. Class attendance and participation are counted heavily for your grade. In reading assignments and preparing for class, students should take the following into consideration:
Primary sources (NT, Plutarch, Augustine, etc.)
- Be prepared to discuss the primary elements of the arguments in the texts: What is the point? and how does the author get to that point?
- What does the author assume about his/her audience?
- What are the social, religious, legal, and political implications of the argument?
- How does the author rely upon or challenge some of the positions of other texts we have read? How does the author use these texts (particularly biblical texts) in traditional, new, or surprising ways?
Secondary sources (Countryman, Brooten etc.)
- Be able to identify the author's primary thesis and his/her main elements of argument in support of that thesis.
-You will have read many of the same primary texts as these authors so evaluate their argument. Where is it weakest or strongest?
- What are the social, religious, and political implications of their arguments?
- Who is the author's audience? What does the author assume about the audience (education, religious beliefs, etc.)? How does this affect his/her argument?
Students are encouraged, but not required, to use the email list for additional discussion.
Class presentation: Each student will be required to make one class presentation this semester. Students should read the assigned texts for this class carefully and must post a message to the class email list by 5 pm the day before class. This posting should include questions to focus students' readings of the class assignments and/or comments regarding the most important, confusing, thought-provoking, etc., aspects of the reading. (All of the other students will print this post and bring it to class with them that day.) The day of the class presentation, the assigned student will begin the class with a 3-4 minute discussion (brief !) of the most interesting points in the readings. The student will be expected to pose questions to begin the class discussion.
Research Paper: A 12-15 page research paper is due at the end of the semester. You will choose a paper topic in consultation with me early in the semester. Your paper should focus on one text (or one set of related texts) that relate to marriage or sexuality in the New Testament itself, marriage or sexuality in the early Christian era (pre-700 CE), or marriage or sexuality in contemporary religious discourse. I am open to some other topics, but any topic must receive my approval. Later in the semester you will turn in a paper proposal with a bibliography. The final paper is due at the end of the course. You will receive hand-outs outlining each stage of this process throughout the semester.
Attendance and participation: 30%
Class presentation: 20%
Paper topic (punctuality): 5%
Paper proposal: 15%
Final Paper: 30%
Students are expected to contact me if they are unable to attend class. More than two absences may affect your grade. Participation is graded in terms of quality and quantity. A late posting to the email list for your presentation will result in a full letter grade deduction. Late paper topics will receive a zero. Late proposals and final papers will receive a full letter grade deduction for each 24 hours they are late.
L. William Countryman, Dirt, Greed, and Sex
B. Brooten, Love Between Women
E. A. Clark, St. Augustine on Marriage and Sexuality
V. L. Bullough & J. Brundage, Sexual Practices and the Medieval Church
The Letters of Abelard and Heloise (Penguin version)
The Bible (preferably RSV or NRSV)
*Readings on reserve at the Divinity School library and on electronic reserves
One or two articles on the WWW and not on electronic reserve due to copyright restrictions
Suggested text for reference: B. Ehrman, The New Testament (NT textbook)
All of the books (including a limited number of Harper-Collins Study Bibles) may be purchased at the Regulator Bookshop on Ninth Street.
Marriage and Sexuality in the Non-Christian Roman World
*Beryl Rawson, "The Roman Family" in Rawson (ed) The Family in Ancient Rome
*Rousselle, Porneia 78-106
Dirt, Greed, & Sex 147-167
*Porneia 5-46, 63-77
Dirt, Greed, & Sex 11-65
Jesus Traditions on Sexuality, Marriage,
and the Family
Mt 5:27-30, Mk 9:42-48
Mt 10:34-39, Lk 12:51-53, Lk 14:26-27
Mt 12:46-50, Mk 3:31-35, Lk 8:19-21
Mt 22:23-24, Mk12:18-27, Lk 10:25-28, Lk 20:27-40
Dirt, Greed, & Sex 80-96, 168-189
Mt 19:1-12, Mk 10:1-12, Lk 16:18
*Philo, Special Laws 594-602
Mt 5:27-30, Mk 9:42-48
**Conferences regarding paper topics February 1-5**
Paul on Marriage and Sexuality
1 Cor 5-7, 11:1-12, 14:34-35
2 Cor 12:20-21
1 Thess 4:3-8
Gal 3:26-28, 5:19-20
Dirt, Greed, & Sex 97-98, 104-109, 190-220
*Musonius Rufus 85-89
*Martin, The Corinthian Body 163-64, 168-179, 198-228
** Paper topics due at the beginning of class Feb 15 **
review Philo 597-599
Dirt, Greed, & Sex 109-123
*Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality 106-117
Love Between Women 1-72
Love Between Women 73-113
Love Between Women 215-302, 359-362
The Household Codes
1 Cor 14:34-35
1 Peter 2:18-3:7
1 Timothy 2:8-15, 5:1-8, 6:1-2
Titus 2:1-10, 3:1
*Plutarch, Advice to Bride and Groom
*Musonius Rufus 89-97
Dirt, Greed, & Sex 124-143, 221-234
Mar 3 Continued
Mar 5 Continued
** Paper Proposals due at the beginning of class Mar 5 **
Early Christian Asceticism and the Apocryphal
Acts of the Apostles
*Chaereas and Callirhoe (selections)
*Acts of Thecla
*Cooper, The Virgin and the Bride 45-67
1 Tim 4:1-5
2 Tim 3:1-9
1 Peter 2:11
* MacDonald, The Legend and the Apostle 54-77
Spring Break March 15, 17, 19
Augustine & Jerome: Marriage vs.
Clark, St. Augustine, selections TBA
St. Augustine, selections TBA
*Jerome, Against Jovinian I:1-15
Marriage & Celibacy in the Middle Ages
Sexual Practices & the Medieval Church 14-33, 55-71, 102-117, 129-134
Letters of Abelard & Heloise 57-182
Prostitution and the Legend of Mary Magdalene
Mt 26:6-13, Mk 14:3-9, Lk 7:36-50, Jn 12:1-8
Mt 27:55-61, Lk 8:1-3
Lk 10:38-42, Lk 12:1-3
Mt 28:1-10, Mk 6:1-13, Lk 23:49-24:35, Jn 19:25, 20:1-18, 1 Cor 15:4-8
Sexual Practices & the Medieval Church 34-42, 149-160, 176-186
*"St. Mary Magdalene" in the Golden Legend
*Luther, On Monastic Vows & The Estate of Marriage
*Merry Wiesner-Hanks, "From Spiritual Virginity to Family as Calling" in Gender, Church, & State in Early Modern Germany
The New Testament and Contemporary Debates
*Richard Hays, "Relations Natural and Unnatural: A Response to John Boswell's Exegesis of Romans 1," Journal of Religious Ethics 14 (1986) 184-215
*Dale Martin, "Heterosexism and the Interpretation of Romans 1:18-32" Biblical Interpretation 3 (1995) 332-55
*Lisa Sowle Cahill, "Sexual Ethics: A Feminist Biblical Perspective" Interpretations 49:1 (1995) 5-16 [Divinity only or http://proquest.umi.com -- must search for article then print]
* Cheryl J. Sanders, "Sexual Orientation and Human Rights Discourse in the African American Churches" in Sexual Orientation and Human Rights in American Religious Discourse, 178-184
*Victor Anderson, "Deadly Silence: Reflections on Homosexuality and Human Rights" in Sexual Orientation and Human Rights in American Religious Discourse, 185-200
*Clarice J. Martin, "The Haustafeln (Household Codes) in African American Interpretation: 'Free Slaves' and 'Subordinate Women'" in Cain Hope Felder (ed), Stony the Road We Trod
*Southern Baptist Statement on the Family [Divinity only or http://www.sbcnet.org/bfm18.htm]
*"SBC Approves Family Statement" in Christian Century, June 17, 1998 v. 115 n. 18 [Divinity only or http://www.searchbank.com/infotrac/start_session/duke_academic]
*J. Francis Stafford, "Eucharistic Foundation of Sacerdotal Celibacy" Origins 23 (1993) 211 16
*John Paul II, "Holy Thursday Letter: Women in the Life of the Priest" Origins 24 (1995) 749-55
*Theresa Mancuso, "Quest for an Undivided Heart" Review for Religious 1994:189-95
*William McDonough, "Two Cheers for Priestly Celibacy" Review for Religious 1993: 898 910
** Papers due May 5 by 5 pm **