BI710CE Pauline Literature and the Letter to the Hebrews

Students explore selected letters of Paul. Topics include authorship, audience, secular and religious contexts. The study of Paul’s writing style brings additional meaning to the texts. Students are prepared for teaching and preaching in the parish and similar settings.

Course Syllabus

The Letters of Saint Paul

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Ἐμοὶ γὰρ τὸ ζῆν Χριστὸς καὶ τὸ ἀποθανεῖν κέρδος (Phil. 1.21)



Dcn. Stephen F. Miletic, Ph.D.

Professor of Scripture

Franciscan University of Steubenville Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio


Course Overview: Course Objectives: What would I want you to remember 10 years from now?

  • The core of Paul’s life is Jesus Christ Crucified and Risen!
  • This core is both an encounter/experience and a knowledge which live on well after the historical event in Paul’s and the Church’s life.
  • For Paul, Christ Crucified/Risen is in …
    • a theology that is actually a staurology (derived from the Greek word for cross stauros]), a theology of the Cross;
    • Paul receives his encounter and understanding of it by a particular kind of Revelation, namely, a divinely initiated knowledge (epignosis = Greek, “knowledge from above”), which brings its own grace to assist humans in receiving it;
    • when this Revelation and Divine Knowledge are grasped, we are in the process of being saved;
    • Paul calls this kind of salvation “mystery” (Gk: mysterion), a divine secret now revealed, with such clarity, beauty and power that it is, itself, a manifestation of salvation. This “mystery” the foundation of our sacraments.


In the twelve weeks of this course, the student will cover:

  1. Introduction & Overview of Course
  2. Lectio divina – receiving the Word of God
  3. Dei Verbum – Inspiration, Inerrancy, Interpretation
  4. SS as sacramental witness to historical Revelation
  5. The Letter Form of the Pauline Letters
  6. Intro to Paul (Background and Chronology)
  7. Theme – Revelation (apocalypsōs)
  8. Theme – Divine knowledge (epignosis)
  9. I Thessalonians – Intensive reading
  10. II Thessalonians – Intensive reading
  11. Philemon – Manipulation or Persuasion
  12. Ephesians – Corpus Capstone; subordination


Course Elements:

  • Lectio Divina: The practice of silent prayer with Scripture, as a way of opening our hearts and mind to the mystery of God.
  • Major Presentation – Introduces & develops content
  • Conference Calls – After modules 2, 4,11
  • Forums – Participation required for all modules.
  • Assessment: Quiz (on Dei Verbum), Quiz (on Gray’s book); completed Pauline letter form; three homilies (weekday; funeral/vigil prayer; baptism @ Mass); daily journal from prayer with lectio divina



  1. Quizzes:
    1. Dei Verbum (multiple choice, open book)
    2. Gray’s book (multiple choice, open book)
  2. Letter Form: Completed Pauline Letter Chart
  3. Homilies:
    1. Weekday Mass – 4 pages, double spaced, for oral delivery of no longer than 4 minutes.
    2. Funeral Mass or Vigil Prayer (select one: child, teen, adult) – 5 pages, double spaced, for oral delivery of no longer than 7 minutes.
    3. Baptism @ Mass (select one: child, teen, adult – 5 pages, double spaced, for oral delivery of no longer than 7 minutes.
  4. Participation in Forums (4X)
  5. Conference calls (3x).
  6. Journal for lectio divina: Very brief daily reflections/reactions, include date, time stamp, location for each daily session.


Assignments & Weighted Values:

  • Quiz – Dei Verbum 30%
  • Quiz – Gray’s book, letter form             10%
  • Completed Pauline Letter Chart 10%
  • Homilies:
  • Weekday Mass 10%
  • Funeral Mass or Vigil Prayer 10%
  • Baptism @ Mass 10%
  • Forums (4 x 4% = 16 15%
  • Journal for lectio divina 5%


Required Texts:

  • Donald Senior, John Collins, Mary Ann Getty (Editors), The Catholic Study Bible3rd (New York, NY: Oxford University Press [March 1, 2016]) ISBN-10: 0199362777; ISBN-13: 978- 0199362776
  • Gray, Patrick. Opening Paul's Letters: A Reader's Guide to Genre and Interpretation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012.


Students should obtain and read the sections indicated for each of the general commentaries listed below.

  • Brown, R. E. (Ed.) et. al. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (Englewood Cliffs, NY: Prentice Hall, 1990). (NJBC) Specifically: (1) Joseph A. Fitzmyer, “Introduction to New Testament Epistles,” pp. 768-771; (2) idem, “Paul,” pp.1329-1337.
  • Farmer, William R. (Ed.), et. al. The International Bible Commentary (Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 1998). (ICB) Specifically: (1) John C. Hurd, “Letters in the New Testament,” pp.1546-1552; (2) Jerome Murphy-O’Conor, “The Life of Paul,” pp.265-272.
  • Fuller, Reginald C. (Ed.) et. al. A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture (London, UK: Thomas Nelson and Sons, Ltd., 1969). NCCHS). Specifically: D. J. O’Herlihy, “The Life of St. Paul,” pp.890-897.
  • José Enrique Aguilar Chiu, et. al, Editors, Paulist Biblical Commentary. (Paulist Press, 2018). Specifically: Michael J. Gorman, “Paul: His Life and Theology,” pp.1228-1233.




NB: Concordances used for finding out where words occur in the Bible should match the translation you are using.


Dictionaries and Reference Works:

Some of these are older works but still valuable.

  • Léon-Dufour, Xavier. Dictionary of Biblical Theology. 2nd ed. New York: Seabury, 1973.
  • Freedman, David Noel, ed. Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
  • Vanhoozer, Kevin, et al. Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005.
  • J. Collins and D.C. Harlow (eds.), The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism. Grand Rapids and Gambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 2010.
  • Sakenfeld, K. D. et. al., (eds.), The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. [multivolumes] Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press [years?].
  • McKenzie, John L., S.J., Dictionary of the Bible8. New York: McMillian, 1973.
  • Spicq, Ceslas, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament. Trans. & ed. James D. Ernest. 3 vols. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994.
  • Halfmann, Janet, et. al. (Eds.) New Catholic Encylopedia2. Detroit: Thomson/Gale (ongoing supplements as well; 1907 edition still useful).
  • Jewish Encyclopedia 12 Vols, Jewish History Ancient Scholarship (Jewish background). •


Lectio Divina (recommended for background reading)

  • Casey, Michael, Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina (Liguori, MO: Liguori/Triumph, 1995).
  • Colledge, Edmund OSA and Walsh, James, SJ, Translators & Editors, Guigo II: Ladder of Monks and Twelve Meditations (Cistercian Publications: Kalamazoo, MI/ Spencer MA, 1979).
  • Deglaire, Roselyne and Guichard, Joëlle (Trans. Teresa Hawes). Fifteen Days of Prayer With Father Marie-Eugène of the Child Jesus, Carmelite, Founder of Notre-Dame de Vie. (Staten Island, NY: Alba House, 2009).
  • Dubay, Thomas, “Gazing On The Beauty Of The Lord,” This Rock (February 2003) (
  • Kardong, Terrence, G., O.S.B., “Chewing the Text: Early Monastic lectio divina of the Bible,” Canadian Catholic Review (November, 1993): 7-10.
  • LeClercq, Dom Jean, OSB., “Lectio Divina” Worship 58 (May 1984):239-248.
  • Magrassi, Mariano, Praying the Bible: An Introduction to Lectio Divina, Trans. Edward Hagman, O.F.M. Cap. (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1998).
  • Masini, Mario, Lectio Divina: An Ancient Prayer That Is Ever New (New York: Alba House, 1998).
  • Vogüé, de, Adalbert, O.S.B., “Daily Readings in Monasteries,” Cistercian Studies Quarterly (1991): 286-294.