IS Course Descriptions

IS 520 – The Origin, Inspiration, and Authority of the Church’s Scripture

This course is a prerequisite for all other courses in the Interpreting Scripture for the Church area.  The course is an introduction to some of the issues that influence how we understand and use the Bible.  The course explores how books became important for the faith community of the Israelites, how the Bible came together as a book, and what it means to say that the Bible is inspired.  In addition the course explores ways to appropriate the biblical text for today so that it can be a guide for the church’s beliefs and practices.

Prerequisite:  None
Credit:  0.5
Instructor:  Dr. Jerry Sumney
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IS 540 – Reading the Torah in the Church Today

This course is a pastoral approach to the TORAH (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) for the Christian faith.  The course envisions the TORAH as having significance, meaning, and instruction for Christians in the light of the rest of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.  In this course, the Torah will be brought into lively discussion for theological and ethical reflection, where you also will gain an awareness of your own sensibilities as a reader of the TORAH.

Prerequisite:  IS 520
Credit:  1.0
Instructor:  Dr. Zipporah Glass
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IS 541 – Reading the Prophets in the Church Today

This course provides a broad overview of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel (“the major prophets”) and selected portions of books ( Amos, Micah, maybe Habakkuk) from the Book of Twelve (“the minor prophets”).  It examines literary genres or “forms” that appear in prophetic texts; sets these books in their ancient social, economic, political, literary, and religious contexts; and asks how their messages are relevant to the life and witness of the church today.

Prerequisite:  IS 520
Credit:  1.0
Instructor:  Dr. Richard Lowery
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IS 542 – Reading the Deuteronomic Histories in the Church Today

This course examines the narrative story of Israel’s Life in the Land found in Joshua through Kings. These texts are known as “historical books” (Christianity), “former prophets” (Judaism) and “the Deuteronomistic History” (modern biblical scholars). Students will learn the importance of these narratives as a framework for understanding the Hebrew Bible. The course explores the relationship between history, narrative and the Bible. It also touches on the theological and ideological shaping of Israel’s story. Students will explore how these narratives and their messages are relevant to the church today.

Prerequisite:  IS 520
Credit:  0.5
Instructor:  Dr. John Hull

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IS 553 – Preparing to Help the Church Read the New Testament for Today

This course is an introduction to the basic political and religious background of the New Testament.  It introduces information about the life circumstances of the time of Jesus and the early church so that one can understand these texts by setting them in their own context.   The work of this course will prepare students to do detailed study of the texts.  It will also enable one to use the New Testament in legitimate and meaningful ways in the congregation so that we hear the word of God.

Prerequisite:  IS 520
Credit:  0.5
Instructor:  Dr. Jerry Sumney
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IS 554 – The Gospels as Resources for the Church

This course will examine the Gospels carefully.   The course enables students to discern what kinds of writings are found in the Gospels and what we should expect to find in them.  Reflection upon how the Gospels are related to one another and how they are used in recent discussions of the historical Jesus will be included.  The course will also examine each Gospel in some detail, looking for what the writer of each wanted readers to think about Jesus, God, and the world.  This will help us think about what they say to the church today.

Prerequisite:  IS 520
Credit:  1.0
Instructor:  Dr. Jerry Sumney

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IS 556 – Pauline Letters as Resources for the Church

This course will set each Pauline letter in its original setting, noticing how each is a pastoral and theological response to the social, spiritual, and theological questions and problems that had arisen in the church to which he writes.  It will examine how he interprets the gospels in ways that address that church’s concerns and shows them how to be faithful to God and the gospel in the pluralistic society of the first century.  The course also explores ways to appropriate these texts for the church today, as we think about how our spiritual and religious concerns have some analogies with theirs, and how Paul’s responses to these questions do and do not give us guidance in today’s church.

Prerequisite:  IS 520
Credit:  1.0
Instructor:  Dr. Jerry Sumney
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IS 560 – Exegesis for the Church

This course will teach the techniques of historical-critical exegesis.  We will look at the methods that help readers of the Bible come to understand what the text meant in its original setting.  It also explores the way that these results can be appropriated for the church today so that the Bible can help lead the churches beliefs and practices.

Prerequisite:  3 Hours of Required IS Credits
Credit:  2.0 (Offered During On-Campus Intensives)
Instructor:  Dr. Jerry Sumney
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IS 570 – Creation and Science

This course examines the two main biblical creation stories in their ancient Near Eastern contexts and asks how they relate to modern scientific research about the origins and development of the universe and the emergence and evolution of life on earth.

Prerequisite:  IS 520 and IS 560
Credit:  0.5
Instructor:  Dr. Richard Lowery

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IS 571 – The Book of Ezekiel

This course module is a brief seven part literary analysis of the Book of Ezekiel with the intent of pastoral application(s) of certain literary material in the Book for the Christian faith.  The course includes exposure to Christian interpretations and doctrines toward key literary features in the Book.

The course envisions the Book of Ezekiel as having direct significance, meaning, and instruction for Christians in the light of the New Testament and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In this course, the Book of Ezekiel will be brought into lively discussion for theological reflection in the Church.

Prerequisite:  IS 520 and IS 560
Credit:  1.0
Instructor:  Dr. Zipporah Glass

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IS 572 -The Catholic Epistles

This course will set each of the Catholic Epistles and Hebrews into their original contexts so we may understand them more clearly.  We will see how each is a pastoral and theological response to the social, spiritual, and theological questions and problems that had arisen in the church to which the author writes. We will examine how each interprets the gospel in ways that address that church’s concerns and shows them how to be faithful to God and the gospel in the pluralistic society of the first century.  We will also explores ways to appropriate these texts for the church today, as we think about how our spiritual and religious concerns have some analogies with theirs, and how their responses to the questions of their churches do and do not give us guidance in today’s church.

Prerequisite:  IS 520 and IS 560
Credit:  1.0
Instructor:  Dr. Jerry Sumney

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IS 573 – Ruth and Jonah

This course focuses on the short narratives of Ruth and Jonah. The settings for these four-chapter stories are in the past of ancient Israel. Ruth begins “in the days when the judges ruled.” Jonah tells of a prophet charged by God to go to the Assyrian city of Nineveh, apparently during the time of the Israelite monarchy. It is likely, however, that these narratives address issues of a much later date. In any case, they both take unconventional approaches to traditional issues. In the case of Ruth, the heroines form an unlikely alliance between a Judean and a Moabite. As for Jonah, although the book is found in the prophets, it is unlike any other prophetic book. The story explores the nature of God’s forgiveness and punishment.  Both narratives will be explored in depth and students will learn to read the stories in new ways that may be appropriated for teaching and preaching in congregations.

Prerequisite:  IS 520 and IS 560
Credit:  0.5
Instructor:  Dr. John Hull

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IS 574 – Paul and Women

This course will explore what Paul and those who wrote in his name said about women in leadership roles in the church. We will also give attention to how one appropriates Scripture for the church today.

Prerequisite:  IS 520 and IS 560
Credit:  0.5
Instructor:  Dr. Jerry Sumney

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IS 575 The Book of Amos

This course focuses on exegesis of the Book of Amos. Amos is considered the earliest of the so-called “writing prophets” or, perhaps better, the earliest prophetic book. The opening sentence indicates Amos addresses Israel in the eighth century BCE. Subsequent prophetic books predict disaster for Israel and Judah as the Mesopotamian powers encroach. However, Amos, writing in a period of relative prosperity announced the End of Israel. The course will emphasize learning exegetical skills as well as discovering the message of Amos.

Prerequisite:  IS 520 and IS 560
Credit:  0.5
Instructor:  Dr. John Hull

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IS 576 – Reading the Bible in the Black Church

This course is a brief exploration into the vitality, witness, and proclamation of the Bible in the contemporary Black Church.

  • The course emphasizes past and contemporary(1) appropriation (2) use, (3) confessional roles of the Bible in the Black Church.
  • The course introduces African American (Black) biblical interpretation (hermeneutics) and contemporary trends in African American biblical interpretation.
  • The course gives attention to the concerns and perspectives of womanist biblical interpretation for the contemporary Black Church.
  • The course explores contemporary forms of proclamation in the Black Church.
  • The course probes contemporary challenges to the historic prophetic and pastoral roles of the Black Church.

The course embraces the traditional Black Protestant position embodied in the five solas:

Sola fide, sola gratia, solo Christ, sola Scriptura, soli Deo gloria
([Salvation comes by] faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone, [and] Scripture only, [to the] glory to God only).

Prerequisite:  IS 520 and IS 560
Credit:  0.5
Instructor:  Dr. Zipporah Glass

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IS 577 – The Book of Exodus 

Prerequisite:  IS 520 and IS 560
Credit:  0.5
Instructor:  Faculty

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IS 580 – Reading the Hebrew Bible During Advent

This course emphasizes three areas.  First, it examines a selection of texts from the Hebrew Bible that are read during Advent.  Second, it leads students in reading critically the familiar Nativity Stories in the Gospels.  In the reading we pay particular attention to the way these texts make use of the Hebrew Bible.  Students learn to investigate historical context and theological meaning.  Third, the course helps students think about what it means to be readers of biblical texts and helps them read these texts from new perspectives.

Prerequisite:  IS 520 and IS 560
Credit:  0.5
Instructor:  Dr. John Hull
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IS 581 – Reading the Hebrew Bible in the Broader Religious and Civic Community

This course considers issues related to the use of the Hebrew Bible in the “public square” as a source for ethical and political dialogue. The first half of the course will focus on the Bible as a political document, examining the Bible’s diverse and nuanced views of political life and the public/political dimensions of faith. The course starts with the inherently political view of the nature and vocation of human beings in the Bible’s first creation story. It then takes a whirlwind tour of key, sometimes contradictory understandings of the roles and responsibilities of government (symbolically focused in the office of “the king”) in the Hebrew Bible. In the third week, we will shift to the contemporary American context and explore the contours of the “wall of separation” between religion and government crafted over two centuries by a series of Supreme Court interpretations of the First Amendment. Students will read and discuss the most important pertinent rulings of the last 70 years and discuss how “the separation of church and state” in America affects our use of the Bible in the broader civic context. The course will conclude with an examination of an international movement that has gained steam since 9/11. The “Scriptural Reasoning” movement brings Jews, Christians, and Muslims together to read and comment on one another’s Scriptures from their own faith perspectives. Though originally centered on the three “Abrahamic” faiths, people from other traditions — religious and “non-religious” (such as Marxism) — have joined the movement’s “tents of meeting,” as a revolutionary act of hope that our differences can strengthen us all, that a shared dream of future justice, harmony, and peace can be realized in part in the here-and-now.

Prerequisite: IS 520 and IS 560
Credit:  0.5
Instructor:  Dr. Richard Lowery
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IS 582 – Reading the Gospels in Advent

This course discusses the meaning of Advent and the meaning of Lectionary texts for the particular year in which the course is taught.  It gives attention to the meaning of these texts in their settings within the Gospels and their meanings as texts read within the season of Advent.

Prerequisite: IS 520 and IS 560
Credit:  0.5
Instructor:  Dr. Jerry Sumney
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IS 583 – Reading the Bible in Lent

This course discusses the meaning of Lent and the meaning of the Lectionary texts for the particular year in which the course is taught.  It gives attention to the meaning of these texts in their literary and historical settings and their meanings as texts read within the season of Lent.

Prerequisite: IS 520 and IS 560
Credit: 1.0
Instructor:  Dr. Jerry Sumney

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IS 584-1 – Reading Colossians

This course will explore the Letter to the Colossians. In addition to examining its historical setting and literary forms, we will see what it continues to say to the church. We will look at its affirmations about Christ and the church and at its demands for the Christian life. We will see a church struggling to understand and live out the faith in a pluralistic and non-Christian world.

Prerequisite: IS 520 and IS 560
Credit: 0.5
Instructor:  Dr. Jerry Sumney

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IS 584-2 – Philippians

Prerequisite: IS 520 and IS 560
Credit: 0.5
Instructor:  Dr. Jerry Sumney
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IS 585 – Revelation

Prerequisite: IS 520 and IS 560
Credit: 1.0
Instructor:  Dr. Jerry Sumney

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IS 590 – IS Competency Exercise

Please refer to section 7.1.6-7.1.8 of the Student Handbook

Prerequisite: Completed All 500-level IS Required Coursework
Credit: 1.0
Instructor:  Dr. Jerry Sumney

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IS 670- A Troubled Church and What It Can Teach Us:  Exegesis of I Corinthians

Prerequisite: Successful completion of a competency exercise and 60% of the IS 500-level work.
Credit: 2.0
Instructor:  Dr. Jerry Sumney

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IS 671- In Its Own Voice:  Interpreting the Hebrew Bible In Social and Cultural Context

The Bible is so central to the life of the church that for many of its readers it is a familiar document, and so we forget that reading the Bible is a cross-cultural experience.  The passages of the Hebrew Bible were spoken and written to be understood in cultures and societies quite different from our own, and so in order to hear the Hebrew Bible in its own voice, its own idiom, we must understand something of the cultures and societies within which it was created.  In this course students will add to their knowledge of the cultures and societies in and for which the Hebrew Bible was created, and further develop their skill in using that knowledge to interpret the Bible for 21st century American culture and society.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of a competency exercise and 60% of the IS 500-level work.
Credit: 2.0
Instructor:  Dr. Richard Weis

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IS 672- The Gospel of Mark

This course will engage in a detailed study of the Gospel of Mark. We will examine the text in its historical context, but also note the ways Mark creates a narrative through which he wants the readers to come to a proper understanding of Jesus and of life in the Kingdom of God. We will further look for ways this text speaks to the church today. The course will require students to continue to hone their skills in using Scripture in the church.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of a competency exercise and 60% of the IS 500-level work.
Credit: 2.0
Instructor:  Dr. Jerry Sumney

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IS 673- Sex and Work In the Hebrew Bible

This course examines the diverse attitudes toward labor and sexuality, gender roles, and family in the Hebrew Bible. Students will engage in critical analysis of biblical texts that describe the nature, purpose, and proper constraints of human labor and sexuality, within the broader cultural and economic contexts of the ancient world. The course will examine the close connection between economic production, family structure, and sexual ethics in the Hebrew Bible. We will ask how these ancient understandings of production and reproduction might speak to the church today, and, in the process, explore principles of biblical interpretation. The central question we will explore is this: how should these ancient texts be used as an authoritative source for moral discernment in the church today?

Prerequisite: Successful completion of a competency exercise and 60% of the IS 500-level work.
Credit: 2.0
Instructor:  Dr. Richard Lowery

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IS 674 – Stories, Speeches, Poems

The primary goal of this course is the development of skills in literately, culturally and historically informed interpretation of passages from the Hebrew Bible for the purpose of illuminating the meaning of contemporary life experience.  The course will be primarily oriented towards developing students’ skills at being the producers of interpretations of Biblical texts for themselves and others, rather than consumers of interpretations produced by others.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of a competency exercise and 60% of the IS 500-level work.
Credit: 2.0
Instructor:  Dr. Richard Weis

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IS 675 – Pauline Sites in Greece & Turkey

Prerequisite: Successful completion of a competency exercise and 60% of the IS 500-level work.
Credit: 2.0
Instructor:  Dr. Jerry Sumney

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IS 676 – Flourishing Together:  Creation and the Human Community

This course takes a close look at biblical themes of social justice and care for creation through the ethical lens of the Earth Charter, an international declaration of principles for sustainable development. Launched in 2000, the Earth Charter initiative builds on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to advance the goals of ecological protection, eradicating poverty, building democracy, and promoting human rights. With these concerns as our guide, we will explore images and themes in the Hebrew Bible that highlight the moral responsibility of the human community to care for each other and for the earth; that illustrate the tight connection between social justice and the flourishing of the land; and that sketch in bold, broad strokes the vision of a future world of peace and shared prosperity. We will ask how these ancient and modern texts can help the church reflect theologically and act morally in the era of global warming.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of a competency exercise and 60% of the IS 500-level work.
Credit: 2.0
Instructor:  Dr. Richard Lowery