John Matthews: “Who Do You Say That I (Jesus) Am?”

Expanded Description:  The class will examine and discuss some of the ways Jesus has been understood through the ages by individuals and religions, ancient and more contemporary. Each session will involve some presentation by the instructor as well as class discussion based on the assigned readings. No single textbook will be used; resource materials will be distributed by email for each class session. Because the New Testament is the fundamental source for information about Jesus, access to a Bible will be necessary. (The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) is recommended.)

(Under the general heading of ‘Jesus, as understood by . . .’ will be a presentation/discussion about particular peoples and religions)

Week 1:  Peter saw Jesus as God’s anointed one; Judas saw Jesus as an annoying one.

Week 2: ‘Greeks’ understood Jesus to be an expression of the divine Logos who shared wisdom about a heavenly kingdom; the ‘Roman Christians’ were hopeful that Jesus would be a human Lord who came to overthrow every earthly kingdom.

Week 3:  Jews received Jesus as one more Rabbi; Muslims affirm Jesus as one more messenger.

Week 4:  Luther believed Jesus to be the crucified Messiah who embodied God’s grace; Pope Leo X saw Jesus as a vicarious sacrifice to appease God’s wrath. 

Week 5:  Deutsche (Nazi) Christen needed Jesus to be Aryan; Confessing (German) Christians knew that Jesus was Jewish.

Week 6:  Privileged people desire a powerful Jesus; disenfranchised people embrace a compassionate Christ.

Week 7:  Prosperity Christians look to Jesus as an inspiration for worldly success; Liberation Christians find comfort in Christ’s solidarity in suffering.

Week 8: (Y)our answer to Jesus’ question?  We will compare any new convictions we might now hold about ‘who Jesus is’ with our initial beliefs when beginning this course.