A residential summer school for members of the clergy, theologians and teachers of religious education.
- Exploring the theme "Human Being - Being Human: Theological Perspectives on Person and Community in an Age of Anxiety".
- Offering one-week seminars taught by members of Oxford's Theology Faculty, distinguished theologians and prominent church leaders.
- Providing the opportunity to study and live in Christ Church, one of Oxford University's largest and most beautiful colleges.
The academic programme consists of
- study in small interactive seminar groups with specialist tutors; and
- an evening lecture each week given by a leading scholar in the field.
Applicants choose one morning seminar and one afternoon seminar per week from:
Week 1: 2-8 August - Morning Seminars
- The Gospel of Matthew
- The Mystery of Personhood: Classical Christian Reflections
- Pauline Anthropology: What Does Paul Think Human Beings Are Like?
Week 1: 2-8 August - Afternoon Seminars
- Discerning the Human
- One Faith, One Lord, One Baptism? Sameness and Difference in Understanding the Human
- Psychological Perspectives on Christian Character Formation
Week 2: 9-15 August - Morning Seminars
- Can We Read the Incarnation in the Old Testament?
- Early Christian Perspectives on Human Being
- Flourishing Well: Sex, Gender and Sexuality
Week 2: 9-15 August - Afternoon Seminars
- Female Disciples and Their Experience of God
- 'School of the Lord's Service': Monastic Wisdom as a Guide to Being Human
- Thinking 'Human': Image, Experience, God
Each seminar has five two-and-a-half hour meetings, and classes will usually contain no more than 18 participants. Classes run from 09.00-12.00 and 13.30-16.30, Monday-Friday, with a mid-session break of 30 minutes for coffee/tea.
Please note that most applicants choose to attend both weeks of the summer school; however, it is possible to attend one week only.
In addition to the daily seminar programme, there will be an evening lecture each week:
- Week 1 - "Newman's Sacramental Vision"
In the year of the canonisation of John Henry Newman, Professor Roderick Strange considers his significance for the Church's understanding of the human person.
- Week 2 - "Adam and Christ, Human Solidarity before God"
An approach to theological anthropology, presented by Professor Frances Young.
The programme provides a minimum of 26.5 contact hours per week, comprising
- 25 hours of seminar meetings (12.5 hours per seminar); and
- a lecture lasting 1.5 hours.
Participants are welcome to attend services at Christ Church Cathedral.
Oxford is a diverse city, rich in places of worship for people of many faiths and denominations.
A number of social activities will be arranged during the summer school. These may include informal tours of the college and the city of Oxford.
Week 1: 2-8 August
The Gospel of Matthew
The four evangelists were theologians as well as witnesses to the historical Jesus. For many centuries the most beloved of all the gospel-writers was Matthew, who was a brilliant poet and teacher. He writes from within the Jewish tradition, intent on showing that Jesus is its culmination and fulfilment. Modifying and often expanding the Gospel of Mark in his own way, Matthew incorporates much more of the moral teaching of Jesus, giving memorable and striking guidance for the Christian life. Recent discoveries continue to throw light on the motivations and force of this teaching.
Tutor: Fr Henry Wansbrough OSB, former Chair of the Oxford University Faculty of Theology and General Editor of the Revised New Jerusalem Bible.
The Mystery of Personhood: Classical Christian Reflections
This course will trace some of the theological anthropologies of the ‘golden age’ of Christian doctrinal formulation. It offers engagement with the potent reflections of such thinkers as Gregory of Nyssa, Evagrius of Pontus and Dionysius and shows how they lead us to realise that true human selfhood is Godward oriented and leads to Christ. Growing into the image and likeness of Christ is what constitutes being human. At the same time we will see how Jesus Christ, true God and true Man is the perfect example of genuine personhood. The early historical period is bursting with remarkable events and striking characters that have borne fruit over time, promoting ever-fresh understandings of what it is to be a human person.
Tutor: Dr Julia Konstantinovsky is researcher and tutor in Theology, Patristics and the History of Late Antiquity at Oxford University.
Pauline Anthropology: What Does Paul Think Human Beings Are Like?
Paul never tells us precisely what he thinks about human nature, but it is clear that for him those humans who are ‘in Christ’ are somehow different. Sometimes he expresses this in terms of a ‘new creation’, because of what has happened in Jesus’s death and resurrection. He also speaks of ‘flesh’ and ‘spirit’ which roughly means humanity as either closed to God or open to God. Somewhere in all this there is Paul’s attitude to women: does Paul think women are really human beings?’ Then there is the question of what Paul means by sin, and what it does to human nature. Does it, for example, obscure the sinner’s humanity? In Paul everything finally comes back to Jesus. His encounter with Jesus was, in effect, a falling-in-love with Christ, after which nothing was ever the same. For Paul Jesus was the model human being. All these aspects will be explored as Pauline anthropology.
Tutor: Fr Nicholas King SJ, New Testament scholar and writer. He is currently Assistant Catholic Chaplain for Oxford University at Campion Hall, Oxford.
Discerning the Human
This is an exploration of personal idealism as a framework for Christian belief. It involves discussion of the nature of the soul, the mind/brain relation, the place of humans in the history of the universe, the ultimate destiny of humanity and the personal nature of ultimate reality. These are among the most fundamental questions of Christian philosophy. To pursue them involves openness to many different and sometimes conflicting ideas, and a readiness to enjoy the process of enquiry and debate while remaining committed to faith in Christ.
Tutor: Professor Keith Ward, philosopher, theologian and former Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University.
One Faith, One Lord, One Baptism? Sameness and Difference in Understanding the Human
Contemporary theology faces critical issues in a world in which faith is challenged by rising forces of populism, nationalism and xenophobia. Christianity has always affirmed the oneness of humanity and an essential connectivity across ethnic, cultural and geographical boundaries. The course will offer an analysis of how issues of power, dynamic relations between different groups and different constructions of personal identity affect what it means to be human. We explore how our humanity is impacted by issues of power, gender, ethnicity, ‘race’, sexuality, disability etc. We also consider how these factors might provide creative tools for Christian theology and ministry.
Tutor: Professor Anthony Reddie, Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture, Regent’s Park College, Oxford.
Psychological Perspectives on Christian Character Formation
This course will explore findings from contemporary empirical psychology in the area of positive emotions, character strengths and virtue and investigate their application to the task of Christian growth. This is a fairly new but rapidly expanding approach to the study of spirituality and discipleship. The course will bring psychological insights into conversation with the Bible and consider the contribution of classical Christian writers such as Ignatius of Loyola, George Herbert, and C S Lewis. The task of the seminar will be framed in terms of ‘cultivating the fruit of the Spirit’, a co-operative venture in which human psychology and the Holy Spirit work together in a process of radical transformation towards the ultimate goal of maturity in Christ. The approach will combine conventional academic study with simple (painless!) practical exercises and discussion.
Tutor: The Revd Dr Joanna Collicutt, Karl Jaspers Lecturer in Psychology and Spirituality at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, Oxford.