Biblical Foundations of Ecclesiology: People, Kingdom, & Body

Biblical Foundations of Ecclesiology: People, Kingdom, & Body

JPI 991
3 Credits

The aim of this course is to explore at a critical level the foundations for ecclesiology in the Scriptures. Little work has been done on providing the Old Testament foundation to the ecclesiology that emerges in the New Testament. It is possible (but incorrect) to think of the Church as a new phenomenon that comes only with Jesus. While there is a novelty about the Church, its grounding is clearly in the להק / qahal of Israel. This course will examine the emergence of the Church using the book of Acts as the primary historical background text against which various ideas of the Church, its meaning and structure, will be examined.

Traditionally, the Church has been understood through the paradigm of the four marks: oneness, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity. This course will endeavor not to simply describe these marks or identify them in various texts but will seek to explain why these four are essential to the nature of the Church—particularly flowing from the experience of Israel and her covenant as well as the act of Creation.

Finally, this course will use Kung’s book The Church as a foil against which the discussion will take place. We will critically engage this work, seeing it against the biblical background which will be developed in the course.

Selected Texts


Joseph Atkinson portrait

Joseph C. Atkinson

Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture
S.T.L. and S.T.D. Program Advisor

Dr. Atkinson’s work has included foundational research in developing the biblical and theological foundation of the family. He is a primary authority on the concept of the Domestic Church, which explores the ecclesial structure and meaning of the family. He teaches on the biblical structure and meaning of marriage and the family, on the Jewish background of the family, and on the nature and role of covenant.

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