St. Luke Icon

"Christian Origins: Luke/Acts"
SCTR 24 – Spring 2007

Fr. Felix Just, S.J.
Dept. of Religious Studies, Santa Clara University

St. Luke, by Guercino


Sect. 01 (32485): MWF 1:00 – 2:05 p.m., Kennedy Commons 109
Phone: 408-554-4595   E-mail:
Office Hours: MWF 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. & by appt., in Bannon 355

Religious Studies in the University’s Core Curriculum:

The Core Curriculum at Santa Clara University includes three courses in Religious Studies at sequential levels (Introductory; Intermediate; Advanced).  The Religious Studies Department divides its courses into three areas: Scripture and Traditions (SCTR); Theology, Ethics, and Spirituality (TESP); and Religion and Society (RSOC).

As a second course in the SCTR area, “Christian Origins” focuses on some of the foundational religious texts of Christianity, namely the Gospel according to Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. Other biblical texts will also be read to supply necessary literary and historical context for understanding Luke-Acts.  While mastering these two books of the New Testament canon, students will be encouraged to deepen their understanding of religion and religious issues, in general and in connection with questions raised in other academic disciplines.

For more details about the rationale and requirements of SCU’s Core Curriculum, see

Course Description and Learning Outcomes:

This intermediate-level course will explore the origins of Christianity through the lens of the two biblical works attributed to the Evangelist Luke. We will primarily be engaged in reading Luke and Acts closely and carefully, using the exegetical methods of source and redaction criticism. In the process, we will also address various issues of history, theology, and spirituality, in the contexts of the Judeo-Christian culture of the first century and our own diverse cultures of the early twenty-first century.

As a result of this course, more concretely, the student-scholars should be able to:

  1. explain what the Bible is, including the Old Testament, the New Testament, and their constituent parts;
  2. know how to read the Bible critically, applying various methods of biblical study and interpretation;
  3. describe the major themes and emphases of all four Gospels (esp. Luke) and of the Acts of the Apostles;
  4. recognize the principal figures and historical highlights of the growth & development of early Christianity;
  5. understand the inter-relationships between Christianity and various forms of Judaism in the first century;
  6. explain what can be known with varying degrees of certainty about Jesus of Nazareth as a historical figure;
  7. know how to find good information and reliable resources for life-long learning about scripture & religion.

Required Textbooks and Instructional Materials:

  1. Any “Study Bible” (complete Old & New Testaments, with extensive introductions, footnotes, maps, etc.); for example:  Senior, C.S.P., Donald, ed. The Catholic Study Bible: New American Bible. 2nd edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. – ISBN 0195282787;  $34.99 new; $26.25 used
  2. Aland, Kurt. Synopsis of the Four Gospels: English Edition. New York: United Bible Societies, 1982/85. – ISBN 0826705006; $21.99 new
  3. Byrne, S.J., Brendan. The Hospitality of God: A Reading of Luke’s Gospel. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2000. – ISBN 0814623905;  $19.95 new
  4. González, Justo L. Acts: The Gospel of the Spirit. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2001. – ISBN 1570753989; $30.00 new
  5. Readings accessible online at “E-Res” ( - password “scripture”) and/or this course website ( - password “scripture” for any restricted sections).
  6. A set of six different highlighter pens or colored pencils (red, yellow, blue, orange, green, and purple).
  7. Regular use of SCU email (or have your SCU email forwarded to an off-campus account, if you prefer).

Course Work and Expectations:

  1. Attendance:  On-time attendance each day is crucial for your learning and success in this course. Please inform me in advance (personally, by phone, or by e-mail) if you need to miss, be late, or leave early any day, or ASAP afterward in case of unanticipated illness, accident, or other crisis.  Your course grade will decrease for each absence, tardy, or early departure.  Four or more unexcused absences may result in a failing grade for the course.
  2. Readings:  All required reading assignments should be completed before you come to class each day, so that you can better understand the lectures and contribute to the discussions.  In addition to the scriptures and textbooks, certain online readings (ERes or webpages) are also required daily, so check the online version of the “Schedule of Readings” regularly. “Primary Texts” are ancient scriptures (esp. the Bible); “Secondary texts” are modern scholarly writings.
  3. Participation:  Always come prepared to summarize the readings, take notes, ask questions, and challenge assumptions (your own and those of others – but always respectfully!). While this is technically a “lecture” course, significant time each day will be devoted to discussions of the biblical and secondary readings. You will sometimes also receive a “worksheet” to complete before class to guide your understanding of the readings.
  4. Quizzes:  We will have six short objective quizzes (about 15 minutes each), but only your top five out of six scores will be counted.  No make-ups will be given; if you miss a quiz, that will simply be the one score that is dropped.
  5. Papers:  Each student will write three very short papers (only 1-4 pages each) on various topics, as detailed in class.
  6. Final Paper or Exam:  Each student may choose either to write a Final Research Paper (6-8 pages) or to take a comprehensive Final Examination (2-3 hours). Students who choose the paper option must submit a 1-page topic proposal at least two weeks before the quarter ends (by Friday, May 25).
  7. Extra Credit:  You can earn up to 25 points for attending events and exhibitions (on or off-campus), reviewing videos, following news stories, writing book reviews, or other activities somehow related to our course.  Announcements will be made in class and/or on the course website; you may also propose ideas of your own at any time.  All extra work must be submitted by the last day of class.
  8. Office Visits:  Please visit, call, or email me at any time to discuss any questions, issues, or problems. My scheduled office hours are on the top of this syllabus; please make appointments to meet with me at other times.
  9. Disability Accommodations:  To request academic accommodations for a disability, students must contact SCU’s Office of Disabilities Resources in the Drahmann Center, Benson 214, phone (408) 554-4111; TTY (408) 554-5445. Students must provide documentation of a disability to Disability Resources prior to receiving accommodations.
  10. Academic Honesty and Integrity:  I strongly encourage you to study together, learn from one another, and make use of outside sources (books, people, websites) to help you learn more than you would alone.  All written work, however, must clearly be your own, unless you are directly citing sources that you have properly documented and credited.  Copying from any person, book, website, or other materials, without properly documenting your sources (even if you change a few words), is a serious offense (plagiarism!), which will result in a failing grade for the assignment or the entire course! Please review the statements and policies on academic integrity in the SCU “Student Handbook.”

Course Grades: 

Final letter grades will be based on a total of 400 points possible in this course:

  • Attendance & Participation:  100 points (attendance; discussions; worksheets; etc.; 25% of the course total)
  • Quizzes:  100 points (5x20 points; 25% of the course total)
  • Papers:  100 points (20+30+50 points, respectively; 25% of the course total).
  • Final Paper or Final Exam:  100 points (25% of the course total)





























This syllabus may be modified slightly during the quarter, as announced in class and on the course website.


An “Educational Covenant”

The process of teaching and learning requires attention to several basic principles:  a) respect for one another;  b) respect for the subject material;  c) respect for the learning process. To make these principles concrete, all of us need to contribute to the learning endeavor in mutually supportive ways:

I, the undersigned student, promise to: I, the undersigned instructor, promise to:
  • be well-prepared for each class
  • be serious and enthusiastic about the course
  • be respectful of the teacher and other students
  • be responsible for my own work and progress
  • participate in class and in my team and group
  • not eat or drink (except water) during class
  • not use cell phones or message devices in class
  • bring all necessary books and course materials
  • study carefully and thoroughly for all exams
  • inform the instructor if ever I cannot attend
  • come on time and remain for the whole class
  • be well-prepared for each class
  • be serious and enthusiastic about the course
  • be respectful of students’ views and experiences
  • be attentive to students’ struggles and progress
  • be available to students outside the classroom
  • not eat or drink (except water) during class
  • not use my cell phone during class
  • bring all materials needed for instruction
  • clearly explain the format and content of exams
  • inform students ASAP if class must be cancelled
  • start and end class on time each day

Affirmation of Acceptance: We, the undersigned student and teacher, agree to abide by all the stipulations of the “Course Syllabus” (esp. the “Course Work and Expectations”), and the above “Educational Covenant,” to the best of our abilities.

Student's Name: ______________________________ Signature: _____________________________ Date: ____________

Instructor's Name: ____________________________ Signature: _____________________________ Date: ____________



Santa Clara University

Other Webpages for SCTR 24 - "Christian Origins: Luke/Acts"

Homepage | Syllabus | Schedule | Resources | Exams | Papers
Slide Shows & Maps

Return to the Homepage of Felix Just, S.J.

This page last updated on April 11, 2018
Copyright © 2007

Winged Ox: Symbol of Luke, by Walter Gast