Description: Paul of Tarsus mosaic

The Writings of St. Paul

Spring 2012, RL 408.1 CS, S, W
Tuesdays 6:30-9:15 PM, AD233
last update: 13 January 2012

Instructor: SHEILA E. McGINN, Ph.D.
Professor of Biblical Studies & Early Christianity
Office: AD Building, RL Suite, B250e; Tel. 216-397-3087

CS, S, W This seminar is an "International" (S) and "Writing Intensive" (W) course in the undergraduate Core Curriculum, in addition to being part of the Catholic Studies curriculum. Follow the links to the left for further details.
academic integrity expectations resources for this class
assignments format resources on Paul
assumptions & pre-requisites grading schedule of meetings & assignments
Catholic Studies information instructor information services for students with disabilities
course description notes for graduate students texts & readings
course objectives notes for undergraduates writing resources


This course is an introduction to the person and message of Paul of Tarsus and the communities of Christ-believers that he founded or influenced. As the earliest extant documents from the Jesus-movement, the writings of Paul of Tarsus have tremendous significance for the development of the early churches and of the New Testament message. This seminar introduces students to the scholarly analysis of these letters of Paul, paying special attention to his theological perspectives in regard to Christ, salvation, the community of disciples, church leadership (female and male), and the eschaton. The course will also survey the legacy of Paul as interpreted by the Deutero-Pauline writers, the Pastoral Epistles, and the legend traditions.

Reading and discussion of key studies that dominate the current debate on Paul and Paulinism will focus around such themes as apocalypticism, authenticity and pseudonymity, epistolography, literary and rhetorical criticism, sociology of sectarian movements, feminist hermeneutics, canonicity and the authority of scripture, and development of doctrine. The readings will be coordinated with lecture and discussion sessions where various exegetical methods will be applied to the interpretation of the Pauline corpus, with selected Pauline texts providing "case studies" for discussion.


Successful students will be able to:

  1. Summarize the current phase of discussion of a wide range of exegetical methods and issues pertaining to the analysis of the canonical literature.
  2. Evaluate the relevance of these critical perspectives to interpretation of the Pauline corpus.
  3. Combine one of the perspectives/methods studied in the seminar with interpretation of a single Pauline text (chosen in consultation with the instructor).
  4. Utilize the standard bibliographical and reference tools for biblical study.
  5. Produce a critical Biblical research paper characterized by appropriate format, rigorous argumentation of the thesis, and thorough documentation of sources.

Seminar; formal lectures and student presentations will be complemented by active and critical student discussions on the basis of the primary texts and secondary literature.


Follow the links for details on each topic so you know your responsibilities in this class.

I am happy to talk with you about your academic and research interests before or after class, or at other times by appointment.