Required Texts | Course Description | Learning Outcomes | Instructional Methods | Course Schedule | Pearson LearningStudio (eCollege) | Campus Resources | TCU Mission

This syllabus represents my current plans and objectives. As we go through the course, those plans may need to change to enhance the class learning opportunity. Such changes, communicated clearly, are not unusual and should be expected.

MALA 60970: Jesus in American History and Culture (Syllabus)


Semester/Year: Summer 2016
Class location: online
Class Meeting time(s): July 5 to July 29
Instructor Name: Charles Bellinger, Assoc. Prof. of Theology and Ethics (Brite Divinity School)
Office: Library

Office hours: by appointment



Required texts and additional resources

Prothero, Stephen. American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. ISBN: 978-0374529567

Thurman, Howard. Jesus and the Disinherited. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996. ISBN: 978-0807010297

*these are list prices; books can often be obtained for less through various vendors.

There will be additional online readings provided by the instructor.

Course Description

This course examines the many and varied interpretations of Jesus of Nazareth in American history, from the colonial period up to the present. Attention is given to conservative and liberal forms of Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism, feminism, the black religious experience, and others. Theological and philosophical perspectives are considered, along with popular culture treatments such as paintings, literature, and films.



Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • express informed views on the diverse appropriations of Jesus in American history.
  • articulate a sense of the wide variety of interpretations of Jesus by various social groups and in different formats, such as preaching, painting, film, and social activism.
  • gain some proficiency in critically engaging with contemporary examples of Jesus as a cultural icon.
  • MLA Program Outcome: “Students will develop and execute their ideas of the intellectual connections of major and global issues by relating these issues to one another on a comparative cultural basis using research, analysis, and writing.”


Instructional Methods

Course procedures:
1. Online discussions of essays, books, films, and web sites.

Requirements and grading:
Online participation (100%). Students will post responses to the reading assignments several days each week. Participation will receive a letter grade each week. Higher grades will be earned through demonstrating the ability to understand the reading assignments accurately and respond to their arguments in a substantive way.



Course Schedule





reading assignments

Week 1

July 5




The Gospel According to St. Luke, ch. 1-12
Prothero, 3-123

Week 2

July 11




The Gospel According to St. Luke, ch. 13-24
Prothero, 124-228

Week 3

July 18




Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited
Prothero, 229-303

Week 4

July 25




Niebuhr, “The Ethic of Jesus”

Yoder, excerpts from The Politics of Jesus
Loewen, “Jesus Christ as Woman Wisdom”

Girard, “The First Stone”
O’Connor, “Parker’s Back”







Pearson LearningStudio (eCollege)

  • If you have not yet taken the Student Tutorial, please exit this course and do so immediately.  Once you have finished, return to this course and continue.  The Student tutorial is listed on your personal student homepage.  To access it, click on "Exit Course" at the bottom of this page.  Then click on the "Student Tutorial" on your home page.  Follow the instructions.  Good luck! 
  • If you experience any technical problems during your usage of this online course, please do not hesitate to contact the HELP DESK (at Pearson LearningStudio (eCollege) ).  They can be reached by phone or by email 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

email:  phone: 1-800-826-1665

For questions about logging into Pearson LearningStudio (eCollege) visit the online video:

If, however, you have a course related issue (course content, assignment troubles, quiz difficulties) please contact the professor during office hours by phone or (preferably) by email.


TCU Campus Resources for Students

**TCU Campus Resources for Students: Many resources exist on the TCU campus that may be helpful to students: Mary Couts Burnett Library (257-7117); Center for Academic Services (257-7486, Sadler Hall. 1022); the William L. Adams Writing Center (257-7221, Reed Hall 419); Student Development Services (257-7855, BLUU 2003); and Office of Religious & Spiritual Life (257-7830, Jarvis Hall), Campus Life (257-7926, Sadler Hall 2006),  and the Counseling, Testing, and Mental Health Center (257-7863, Brown Lupton Health Center).

**Email Notification: Only the official TCU student email address will be used for all course notification. It is your responsibility to check your TCU email on a regular basis.






TCU Mission

To educate individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community