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Semester 1

Jesus in Film (DIVI10055)

Subject

Divinity

College

CAHSS

Credits

20

Normal Year Taken

3

Delivery Session Year

2022/2023

Pre-requisites

Visiting students should have passed at least three (college/university level) Divinity/Religious Studies courses at grade B or above.

Course Summary

This course explores the cultural and theological questions raised by diverse cinematic interpretations of Jesus' life, relating them to social, historical, and theological developments of the 20th/21st century, while also addressing the methodological issues involved in studying religion and film.

Course Description

Academic Description: The course aims to enhance students' interpretation of films and appreciate the significance of the story of retellings of the life of Jesus in twentieth and twenty-first century cinema. From the beginning of the course, students will learn about select concepts and theories in film studies, while also exploring cultural and theological issues raised by the films. Particular attention will be paid to comparisons between the films and the gospel accounts/other ancient sources. The course will focus on the ways in which historical reconstructions of the life of Jesus have shaped cinematic portrayals and on how the study of cinematic treatments of Jesus helps us to reflect on biblical criticism and the construction of historical narratives. Syllabus/Outline Content: The course will cover basic theoretical issues in the study of film, while familiarizing students with a range of important films about Jesus, ranging from Cecil B. DeMille's black and white film 'King of Kings', to comic and musical treatments including 'Life of Brian' and 'Jesus Christ Superstar', to controversial Hollywood depictions such as 'The Last Temptation of Christ and 'The Passion of the Christ'. Themes that will be considered in our analysis of the films will include gender, anti-Semitism and orientalism, Zionism, imperialism and Communism, the relationship between religion and politics, and martyrdom. Student Learning Experience Information: From the beginning of the course, students will learn about select concepts and theories in film studies, while also exploring cultural and theological issues raised by the films. Particular attention will be paid to comparisons between the films and the gospel accounts/other ancient sources. Each week, we will focus on one film, which students will watch outside class time. Each student in the class will attend one hour of in-person class time per week, either on campus or online if they are self-isolating, ill, or not resident in Edinburgh. Pre-recorded lectures and other materials will be available on Learn. Students will demonstrate their achievement of the intended learning outcomes through class participation, a 500-word blog entry analysing one of the films, a 1500-word essay, and a final take-home exam.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 60%, Coursework 30%, Practical Exam 10%

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