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The Apocalyptic Imagination (syllabus)

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This course will examine the development of Apocalypticism-as a worldview and a literary genre-among early Jewish and Christian communities in the matrix of ancient Mediterranean as well as the persistence and proliferation of an "apocalyptic
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     T HE  A  POCALYPTIC I MAGINATION   REL 390/690 Spring 2018 M 4:00  –  6:30pm, WING 210 Dept. for the Study of Religions WFU Instructor: Seth Bledsoe Email: bledsosa@wfu.edu  Office hours : MW 2:00-3:00pm, or by appt. Office:  Wingate 107A Course Description  This course will examine the development of Apocalypticism  —  as a worldview and a literary genre  —  among early Jewish and Christian communities in the matrix of ancient Mediterranean as well as the persistence and proliferation of an “apocalyptic imagination” from antiquity until present day. After a consideration of the cultural, political, and theological background, we will read closely several of the early  Jewish and Christian apocalypses, including the well-known canonical texts (Daniel and Revelation), other contemporaneous examples, even up to late antiquity and the early Islamic era. As for the latter part of the semester, we will move away from a historical or literary organization and consider a variety of topics and themes that arise when encountering the apocalyptic, such as: gender, violence, ethics, just war, and empire.  Taking an interdisciplinary approach we will engage authors, poets, artists, musicians and film directors, as  we discuss the impact of apocalyptic thought on modern and contemporary culture from sociological, post-colonial, feminist, and theo- political perspectives. A final consideration of the “secular post - apocalyptic” in American pop culture rou nds off our “ otherworldy  ”  journey through the cross-cultural phenomenon of apocalyptic imaginations from antiquity until today. Learning Outcomes Upon completion of this course, students will be able to: •   Describe the historical, political, social, and theological aspects related to the development of  Apocalypticism as a worldview or pattern of thought; •   Summarize the major characteristics of ancient apocalypses and identify the prominent features in the major examples of the genre in early Judaism and Christianity, especially the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation; •   Evaluate the reception and different uses of the apocalyptic texts and stories in historical and contemporary discourse, including ethical, political and theological discussions; •   Discuss t he theoretical evaluation of “apocalyptic” thought in modern research, particularly as it relates to the following topics: violence, gender, race, colonialism & empire, and secularism; •   Explain why different religious communities and modern audiences have employed ideas about the apocalyptic, especially millennialism, what these concepts accomplish for these texts and communities; •   Clearly and effectively engage the primary and secondary sources using a variety of critical theories in the study of religion and history; and •   Clearly and effectively present, in both written and oral formats, arguments and ideas related to the critical study of religion, particularly in the context of apocalyptic movements from antiquity and in contemporary discourse.   Bledsoe: Apocalpytic Imagination WFU/Spring 2018 Course Materials Required: •    John J. Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination  . 3 rd  ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016. •    Anathea E. Portier-Young,  Apocalypse Against Empire  . Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014. •   NRSV translation of the Bible w/ Apocrypha; recommended The New Oxford Annotated Bible Strongly Recommended •   Stephen D. O’Leary and Glen S. McGhee, War in Heaven/Heaven on Earth  . London: Equinox, 2005. *A list of other recommended resources will be distributed during the first class meeting. Course Requirements  –   REL 390 •    Attendance & Participation   (20%) —     Attendance   at class meetings and   consistent  participation    for class meetings are expected of every student. Further, to be an effective participant you must be  prepared    for each class session by carefully reading the assigned materials. This is a seminar; therefore, active participation in each class discussion is expected from every student. •   Discussion Questions (10%)   —     To help foment discussion, for every class session   students will prepare a list of at least five (5) questions based on the readings. At the end of each class meeting you will turn in the questions. Failure to turn in a hard copy of thoughtful, well-prepared discussion questions will negatively affect your grade. •   Group Activity (10%) —     With a classmate you will present an in class presentation   on an “apocalyptic movement” from the early Modern era until present day. Presentations will be 15 in total (ideally 10 minutes for presenting and 5 for questions). You may use PowerPoint or other multimedia, but ultimately the format is up to you. Presentations will take place during the final four weeks of the semester (excluding the final week). Further details, including a list of potential topics and schedule for presentations, will be decided at a later point in the semester. •    The “ Splainer ”  (10 %)  —   You will write a short “Splainer”   (for info on the format of a “Splainer”  go to http://religionnews.comseries/the-splainer/ ). This assignment will cover a specific text. You will choose one example of an ancient apocalypse   (from antiquity until the early Middle Ages) that we did not already read for class and prepare a presentation that will then be uploaded to the course website and thus be available to the entire class. You may choose any number of formats, whether written text, podcast, video, or some creative combination. Specific details about this assignment will be distributed during the first week of class. •   Final Exam (20%)  —     At the end of class on Monday, April 23 the instructor will distribute the final exam. This will be a take-home exam and will be due by 5:00pm on Friday, April 25 in both hard-copy (professor ’ s box) and electronic format (Sakai).  The exam will be essay format and will be comprehensive. Further specifics on the format and guidelines (i.e., which sources may be used) will be discussed in class. •   Research Paper (30%)  —    Students will write a 10-12 page (min. 3000 words) research paper on a topic to be decided in consultation with the instructor. The topics should relate to the overall class objectives and apply methodologies learned during the course meetings. They may relate to group presentations but should extend well beyond the scope, both in terms of topic (i.e., more than a simple report on a single movement or text) and the quantity and quality of research. The topic will be decided in consultation with the instructor by Feb 14  (end of week 4). Around midway through the semester (  Mar 21 ; end of week 8) students will submit a  proposal   which includes both an abstract (or introduction   ) of the paper and a bibliography  . Students are encouraged to turn in a  preliminary version    that can be “graded” and returned with comment. Preliminary submissions will be accepted up until  April 18  (to allow sufficient time for the instructor to return the marked paper). The  final, complete version   of the essay will turned during finals week, on  Wed, May 9 at 5:00pm both hard copy (professor ’ s box) and electronic (Sakai),  no later! (Proposal and bibliography 5%; Final Submission 25%).   Bledsoe: Apocalpytic Imagination WFU/Spring 2018 Course Requirements  –   REL 690    Attendance & Participation   (20%) —     Attendance   at class meetings and   consistent  participation    for class meetings are expected of every student. Further, to be an effective participant you must be  prepared    for each class session by carefully reading the assigned materials. This is a seminar; therefore, active participation in each class discussion is expected from every student. As graduate students, you are responsible for not only participating in discussion but for helping to  guide discussion  . You may also be called to speak to the additional readings. Professional Training in Seminar Prep (30%)   —     The following set of assignments are aimed not only at achieving the above-mentioned course objectives but also at developing specific skills for a professional or academic context, namely in organizing and leading a seminar or meeting: o   Reading Analysis Discussion : In the first week of class you will sign up for two (2)   weeks for which you will prepare a Reading Analysis paper. Each analysis will be approx. 1000 words (3-4 pages dbl-spaced) and will cover the assigned “extra materials” (those specifically for 690). During the relevant class meetings you will present a summary of your paper (max. 5 minutes). At least two full days   before the class meeting, you will distribute the analysis to the entire class by posting it on Sakai. (10% each). o   Peer Review Paper : Each student will prepare one (1)   Peer Review paper during the semester. The Peer Review papers are 500 word (1-2 pages) responses to one of the Reading Analyses submitted by another graduate student in the seminar. The student will read her/his Peer Review during at the seminar meeting after the initial presentation by the other student. Sign-ups for the reviews take place in the first class meeting. (5%). o   Seminar Leader : For one (1)  of the days for which you have prepared a Reading Analysis you will also be responsible for leading the seminar discussion (in cooperation with the instructor) for one part of the session (approx. 75 minutes). In addition to the 5 minute presentation of the analysis, you will be responsible for leading the discussion of the respective topic/text. You should prepare a few leading or provocative questions to stimulate conversation and be prepared to speak in detail on the topic(s) at hand. (5%) Final Exam (20%)  —     At the end of class on Monday, April 23 the instructor will distribute the final exam. This will be a take-home exam and will be due by 5:00pm on Friday, April 25 in both hard-copy (professor ’ s box) and electronic format (Sakai).  The exam will be essay format and will be comprehensive. Further specifics on the format and guidelines (i.e., which sources may be used) will be discussed in class. Research Paper (30%)  —     You will write a 13-15 page (min. 4000 words) research paper on a topic to be decided in consultation with the instructor. The topics should relate to the overall class objectives and apply methodologies learned during the course meetings. They may relate to group presentations but should extend well beyond the scope, both in terms of topic (i.e., more than a simple report on a single movement or text) and the quantity and quality of research. The topic  will be decided in consultation with the instructor by Feb 14  (end of week 4). Around midway through the semester (  Mar 21 ; end of week 8) students will submit a  proposal   which includes both an abstract (or introduction   ) of the paper and a bibliography  . Students are encouraged to turn in a  preliminary version    that can be “graded” and returned with comment. Preliminary submissions will be accepted up until  April 18  (to allow sufficient time for the instructor to return the marked paper). The  final, complete version   of the essay will turned during finals week, on  Wed, May 9 at 5:00pm both hard copy (professor ’ s box) and electronic (Sakai),  no later! (Proposal and bibliography 5%; Final Submission 25%)   Bledsoe: Apocalpytic Imagination WFU/Spring 2018 Course Policies Classroom Civility •    This class covers material about which many students have strong convictions and opinions. In order for the class to be successful, it is essential that everyone show respect for the instructor and their classmates. One of the most important aspects of a liberal arts education is learning to be respectful of the viewpoints of others with whom you may disagree. Discussing a text revered by many people of several different faith communities in a public, academic setting requires that special care be taken to communicate in a civil manner which is respectful of the wide variety of perspectives that may be present. In this class, we will not be discussing the text as a confessional document nor will we be attacking the use of the text as understood by any faith community. We  will be working to get behind the interpretations of the text in more recent centuries to consider them as literature and as products of writers in an ancient historical context. We reserve the right to dismiss anyone who is unwilling work within this framework and disrupts the course of conversation for others. Laptops, Devices, Phones in Class •   During some class sessions, students will be encouraged to bring laptops or other devices to class for specific teaching/learning purposes. In all other class sessions, students are asked not to use laptops, iPads, smart phones, or other hand-held devices. Exceptions will be made in cases of personal emergency or a documented need for technology-based learning.  Academic Integrity and Guidelines to Academic Writing at WFU •    Wake Forest University subscribes to an Honor Code   to which all students are accountable. Please review it carefully at http://studentconduct.wfu.edu/.  •   Plagiarism will be prosecuted!!! Learning and Support Resources •    The Writing Center in the ZSR Library is an excellent resource for students wanting to strengthen their writing skills. Students at all levels of writing are strongly encouraged to make use of the Center’s resources and services.   •   If you have a diagnosed learning difference, disability, physical or learning challenge that requires specific accommodation while you take this course, please contact both the instructor and the Learning Assistance Center (758-5929) within the first two (2) weeks of the semester. •   If you need support for your personal mental and emotional health, please contact the Counseling Center (see their website: http://www.wfu.edu/ucc/ ). Grading Rubric  A = 93  –  100  A- = 90-92 B+ = 87-89 B = 83-86 B- = 80-82 C+ = 77-79 C = 73-76 C- = 70-72 D+ = 67-69 D = 63-66 D- = 60-62 F = 59 or below Disclaimer  The instructor reserves the right to change or add to assignments, and to make changes to this syllabus,  with adequate notice.     Bledsoe: Apocalpytic Imagination WFU/Spring 2018 Semester Plan *      E    N   C   O   U   N   T   E   R   I   N   G   T   H   E    A    P   O   C   A   L   Y   P   T   I   C    H    I   S   T   O   R   Y  ,   G    E   N   R   E  ,   W    O   R   L   D   V   I   E   W  W 1/17 *No class meeting!!!* Read over the Syllabus; complete the survey on Sakai M 1/22  What is Apocalypticism? Discourse & Worldview Required: Rowland, Open Heaven  , 9-48 Optional (required for 690):  Yarbro Collins, “Apocalypse Now”    W 1/24  What is an Apocalypse? Development of a Genre Required: AI   1  –  52 Optional (required for 690): Newsom “Spying out the Land”    Wright “Joining the Club”   M 1/29 Context & History: Hellenism, Antiochus IV & the Maccabean Revolt Required: AAE 91  –  216 Optional (required for 690): Grabbe “Seleucid and Hasmonean Periods”   Bledsoe “Maccabean Revolt”   Aitken review of Hengel    O    R   I   G   I   N   S   O   F    A    P   O   C   A   L   Y   P   T   I   C   M 2/5  The Prophetic Tradition:  The Day of the Lord Death, Resurrection & the  Afterlife Primary Text(s):   Ezekiel 1, 7; Isaiah 2; Amos 5; Joel; Zechariah Required:  Arnold “Old Testament Eschatology”  Elledge “Resurrection of the Dead”   Day “Resurrection Imagery”   Brettler “Those that Sleep in the Dust”   Optional (required for 690): Hendel “Isaiah and Transition”   Collins “Afterlife in the Apocalyptic”      E    A   R   L   Y    J    E   W   I   S   H    A    P   O   C   A   L   Y   P   S   E   S M 2/12 Enochic Apocalypses: Book of Watchers     Apocalypse of Weeks     Animal Apocalypse    Primary Text(s):   1 Enoch 1  –  36; 93:1  –  10, 91:1  –  17; 83-90 Required: AI 53  –  88  AAE  280  –  381 (skim non-relevant sections) Optional     Wright “Book of Watchers: A Review”   *690 must read at least 2    Himmelfarb “From Ezekiel to Watchers”  Frö hlich “Symbolical Language”   Laato “Chronology in Animal Apocalypse”   M 2/19 Qumran, Messianism & the Son of Man Primary Text(s) 1QS 3  –  4; 1QM 1, 15  –  19 2 Samuel 7; Isaiah 9:1  –  7; 11; Psalm 89; Daniel 7 Required AI 178  –  219 Goff “ Messianism ”  Dimant “  Apocalyptic Qumran ”   Alexander “  Towards a Taxonomy  ”   Optional AI 89  –  106; Collins, Scepter and the Star   (selections) *690 choose at least two   Schiffmann, “Concept of the Messiah”   M 2/26  The Danielic Apocalypse Primary Text(s): Daniel 1  –  12 Required: AI 107  –  42  AAE 217  –  79 Optional Bledsoe “Attitudes Toward Seleucid Imperial”   *690 choose at least two   Lucas “Daniel’s Four Empires”  Stuckenbruck “Daniel and Early Enoch”   Evans “Daniel in the New Testament”   *    AI =  Apocalyptic Imagination ;  AAE   =  Apocalypse Against Empire ; WHHE   = article in War in Heaven/Heaven on Earth
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