BI713EE The Letters of Paul and the Acts of the Apostles

In "The Letters of Paul and the Acts of the Apostles,"  students explore selected letters of Paul and Acts. 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

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 [stauro/ß]), 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; Gk = e˙pi÷gnwsiß), 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: musth/rion), 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.

Course Syllabus

Pontifical College Josephinum

B1713EE Acts of the Apostles and the Letters of Saint Paul

Developer: Chris Seeman, PhD


Course Objectives:

  • The lasting influence of these early witnesses to Christ on the Church today
  • The central tenet that these witnesses stress knowing Christ, not merely knowing about him.
  • The growth of Christianity into a world-wide community of disciples.
  • The lasting influence of these early witnesses to Christ on the Church today
  • The central tenet that these witnesses stress knowing Christ, not merely knowing about him.
  • The growth of Christianity into a world-wide community of disciples.

Required Texts:

  • The Catholic Study Bible. 2nd Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
  • The Jewish Annotated New Testament, 2nd Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.


Course Content:

MODULE 1: Acts 1-9

  • Forum: How does Acts 1-9’s portrayal of the Church illustrate the four “Marks of the Church” (one, holy, catholic, apostolic)?

MODULE 2: Acts 9-15

  • Forum: Based on the biblical background of James’ decision regarding Gentile believers, what does Acts 15 tell us about the Church’s relation to Israel?

MODULE 3: Acts 16-28

  • Forum: What accusations were brought against Paul by his opponents? How does Acts attempt to discredit those accusations?

MODULE 4: Galatians

  • Forum: How does Paul’s solution to the issue of Gentile inclusion differ from that of James in Acts 15?

MODULE 5: Philippians

  • Forum: What implications does Paul’s theology of citizenship have for Christians’ in today’s society?

MODULE 6: 1 Corinthians

  • Forum: How does Paul’s understanding of the Church as the Body of Christ inform his responses to the divisive behavior of Corinthian Christians?

MODULE 7: Romans 1-8

  • Forum: How should Paul’s teaching concerning the transformative power of the Holy Spirit inform our understanding of the sacraments of initiation?

MODULE 8: Romans 9-11

  • Forum: What are the implications of Paul’s theology of Israel for contemporary Jewish-Christian relations?

MODULE 9: Romans 12-16

  • Forum: Is Paul’s teaching concerning secular authority an adequate foundation for Christians’ relationship to the state today?

MODULE 10: Colossians

  • Forum: How might Paul’s hymn to the cosmic Christ inform contemporary Christian reflection on the Church’s relationship to society and to the environment?



MODULE 11: Ephesians

  • Forum: How does the theology of marriage in Ephesians 5 differ from that found in 1 Corinthians 7? Can the two theologies be reconciled?

MODULE 12: 1 & 2 Timothy

  • Forum: Are there insights from Paul’s teaching concerning ordination that can be applied to parish leaders today?



  • Quizzes (30%): There will be a weekly, multiple-choice quiz for each module. Each quiz is worth 2.5% of your course grade.
  • Forums (60%): There will be a discussion forum for each module. Each forum is worth 5% of your course grade.
  • Homily or Essay (10%): You will compose a homily or devotional essay based on a topic present in one or more of Paul’s letters.



  • General Bible Commentaries:
    • Brown, R. E., et. al., The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (Englewood Cliffs, NY: Prentice Hall, 1990).
    • Farmer, William R., The International Bible Commentary (Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 1998).
  • Concordances:
    • For the New American Bible, see search.cgi
    • For the RSV, use Ellison, John W. [John William], Nelson's Complete Concordance of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible (New York: Nelson, c1957) FUS Ref: BS425 .E4.
    • 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 Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 2010.
    • Sakenfeld, K. D. et. al., (eds.), The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. [multivolumes] Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
    • McKenzie, John L., S.J., Dictionary of the Bible. 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 Encylopedia. Detroit: Thomson/Gale (ongoing supplements as well; 1907 edition still useful).
    • Jewish Encyclopedia 12 Vols, Jewish History Ancient Scholarship (Jewish background).