Requirements REL 320

Attendance and Academic Citizenship

This class is mainly discussion based, so attendance and participation are crucial. 

You will need to provide documentation for excused absences.  To paraphrase the Undergraduate Catalog, you may be excused from class without penalty:

1) for University sanctioned activities,
2) for severe illness as evidenced by a written doctor’s excuse, and
3) for a death in your immediate family.

Each unexcused absence results in a 2 point deduction from your attendance grade.  However, each student begins with 6 points of extra credit for perfect attendance.  This means you can have three unexcused absences before losing any of your 20 pts. 

Academic Citizenship consists of scholarly habits, i.e., characteristics and practices that will contribute immensely to your academic success such as:

1) Coming prepared for class;

2) Paying attention to the lecture;

3) Taking notes on the lecture;

4) Paying attention to fellow students' questions and comments during discussion;

5) Not arriving late or leaving early;

6) Not talking to your neighbor or doing anything else that is distracting and disrespectful while class is in session. So no knitting and no fidget spinners! :-)

Also, please note that phones, tablets, and laptops are not to be used during class.  See Additional Course Policies for more on cell phone policies.  There is a large and growing body of research that confirms that personal technology in the classroom is a distraction that is making us stupider, and that the physical act of writing things down helps increase comprehension and retention.

Reading and Discussion Participation

The reading assignments are the life blood of a discussion based course. To be prepared for class you must read the assignments carefully and make notes.  During class I will expect to see a notebook in front of you with notes in it.  Some of your notes should be made while doing the reading with an eye toward what you can contribute to the discussion.  Part of your grade is based on discussion participation.  Your ability to earn a high mark for discussion participation depends heavily on your reading habits and thoughtful note taking.  All students are expected to participate in class discussions.  The course is designed to foster critical yet respectful discussion wherein everyone’s views get a hearing. 


The reading assignments are the life blood of the course. I have chosen a recent and critically acclaimed master work that will serve as the historical-critical and literary-critical backbone of the course.  Most class periods during the first half of the semester, I will make a presentation on the assigned reading and lead the discussion.  This will serve as model for what you will do twice during the second half of the semester. 

Short Papers, Quizzes, and a Final Exam

1) Two short papers.  These are three and four page assignments that will also prepare students for class discussions on the dates they are due. Specific directions for each assignment will appear under Assignments one week before the due date. If you know you must miss a class when a paper is due, be sure to submit it by class time.  Late papers will be accepted, but three points will be deducted from the grade.

2) Midterm Exam This exam will consist of 70 objective questions.  Some previously used quiz questions will be included.  If you miss the exam for a legitimate reason as defined by the University Catalog (see above), you may make it up within one week.  Contact me by email to arrange this. 

3) Pop Quizzes on Readings.  There will be at least ten five to ten point pop quizzes.  Typically at least one quiz will be given each week at the beginning of class consisting of five objective questions (T/F or multiple choice) to test your knowledge of the reading assignments. Students who keep up with the assignments, and who read them consistently and carefully can expect to do well. Quizzes on the reading may not be made up if the student fails to attend class on the days they are given. The two lowest quiz scores will be dropped.

4) Final Exam. This is an essay and discussion exam.  The question will be provided a week before the exam period and your essay will be uploaded in Blackboard. During the final exam period, students will share from their papers as part of a class discussion. An incomplete (i.e., grade "I") will be given for the course if you miss the Final, have a legitimate excuse, and request one within 24 hours after the Final was given.



Powell, Mark Allan, James D. G. Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Nazareth (2nd Ed.)

Carter, Warren. Telling Tales about Jesus: An Introduction to the New Testament Gospels

Throckmorton, Burton. Gospel Parallels: A Comparison of the Synoptic Gospels (5th Revised edition)


The HarperCollins Study Bible (2d ed.) or New Oxford Annotated Bible (4th ed.) or NABRE on BibleGateway (this is a true academic study Bible free to the public!)


Short Papers One 40 pts.
Short Paper Two 50 pts.
About Ten Pop Quizzes on Readings (5-10 pts. each) ≥60 pts.
Midterm Exam (80 objective questions) 80 pts.
Final Exam Essay 30 pts.
Final Exam Discussion 10 pts.
Attendance 20 pts.
Participation 40 pts.
TOTAL ≥330 pts.

Your total Course Grade will utilize plus/minus grading.  As someone has said, "Earnestly desire the higher gifts."





















60-66% D

Below 60%