Religion 216b: Images of Jesus

Prof. Anne McGuire


This is the entry page for Religion 216b, Images of Jesus, Haverford College, Spring 2007

The complete syllabus for the course is available only in Blackboard and within the Tri-College network at

Course Description: This course offers an overview and analysis of images of Jesus in various genres and modes of representation from the first through the twenty-first centuries. The course is organized into three sections: 1) representations of Jesus in early Christianity, with a focus on the earliest literary and theological representations of Jesus, especially in the writings of the New Testament and in selected non-canonical texts such as the Gospel of Thomas; 2) images of Jesus in the arts, with a focus on visual images, especially icons, sculpture, frescoes, and paintings from various periods; 3) contemporary representations of Jesus in theology, popular religion, scholarship, and the arts, especially film.

Our goal in this course is not to distinguish between the "real" Jesus and later mis/representations of Jesus, any more than it is to rescue the "true" Christ of faith from heretical misappropriations. Rather, our primary goals in the course are two: 1) to understand the ways in which writers, artists, theologians of various periods and ideological perspectives have constructed their own distinctive images of Jesus through an active re-imagining of the identity or person of Jesus, his teachings, and the story of his life, death, and resurrection; 2) to interpret those images, with particular attention to their original contexts and to contemporary efforts to appropriate, reject, criticize, and/or renew them.

Student Web Projects

Jan and Hubert van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece: The Adoration of the Lamb, website created by Amy Indyke, HC '07

 Course Outline:

Required Textbooks:

Course Requirements:

WWW Resources for Studying Images of Jesus


SYLLABUS: Selected Course Readings

I. Representations of Jesus in the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (4 weeks: 1/22-2/14)

M 1/22 & W 1/24 Introduction to the Course: Responses to the Challenge of Describing Jesus;
Images of Jesus in Christian Theology, Scholarship, and the Arts

M 1/29 The Identity and Significance of Jesus in Early Christianity I: Crucified Messiah, Second Adam, Wisdom, Servant, and Lord in the Letters of Paul

W 1/31 Identity and Significance II: The Hidden and Revealed Messiah, Suffering Servant, Son of Man in the Gospel of Mark

For the remainder of the course syllabus, please see the online version available through Blackboard and on the internal website of the Tri-College community at:

M 2/5 and W 2/7 Jesus as Teacher, Messiah, and Savior in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke M 2/5 Jesus as Incarnate Word of God in The Gospel of John

W 2/7 Images of Jesus in Canonical and Non-Canonical Texts

II. Images of Jesus in the History of Christian Art (4 or 5 weeks)

M 2/12 W 2/14 Visualizing Jesus: Representations of Jesus in Early Christian Art

M 2/19, W 2/21

M 2/26, W 2/28

M 3/5, W 3/7

 SPRING BREAK, March 10-18

M 3/19, W 3/21

M 3/26, W 3/28

M 4/2, W 3/4

M 4/9, W 4/11

M 4/16, W 4/18

M 4/23, W 4/25

M 4/30, W 5/2


III. Images of Jesus in Contemporary Culture (4 or 5 weeks)

T 4/6

Th 4/8

T 4/13

Th 4/15

T 4/20

Th 4/22

T 4/27

Th 4/29


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