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Chesterton House

A Center for Christian Studies at Cornell

All Courses


The Heart of the Old Testament: Nurturing Love for God and God’s People 

The foundational goal of all education must be character formation. There is no better resource than the Old Testament with its timeless narratives of God’s perfect faithfulness in the face of human frailty, and the repeated exhortations to embody uprightness as we love our neighbors as ourselves. The moral and ethical issues that we confront in the 21st century are refractions of the same dilemmas God’s people have faced for millennia.

This course will be offered Winter 2018.


Wisdom & Worldview in Proverbs

The wisdom literature in the Bible (Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes) is God’s guidance for navigating the ins and outs of everyday life.  This course studies the book of Proverbs to understand it in its ancient context and to find modern relevance for its ideas about life and death, education and knowledge, suffering, desire, culture, beauty, vocation, selfhood, politics, ethics, and more.

“There are some lessons that Cornell classes just cannot give you...Wisdom goes beyond academic knowledge in showing how loving God and yielding to Him gives us more fulfilling lives.” - Anonymous Student



God & Happiness

Aristotle wrote that most people “identify living well and doing well with being happy - but with regard to what happiness is they differ.”  While most of us have some sense of what happiness is, we might have a hard time explaining this important concept.  Every one of us desires to be happy, but without a clear grasp of what we believe about happiness – can we ever hope to attain it?  What is happiness?  How can we achieve happiness?  Join us to explore the ways in which philosophers and theologians of the Early Modern period (~15th-18th centuries), contemporary thinkers, and the Bible help us answer these crucial questions.


Identity, Community, and Vocation

Who am I? And what am I called to do at this time, in this place, and among these people who live in the world around me? This two credit, integrative seminar explores issues of identity, community, and vocation, drawing upon philosophical, sociological, and theological readings.

“Dr. O’Dowd is a fantastic teacher and does a truly excellent job at helping students come to real understanding of the depth
of the material.” – Dan Miller



The Gospel of Mark

Mark can be thought of as "the Quenten Tarantino of the gospel writers."  One moment Mark is racing through the story and the next he seems to stop time and focus our gaze on Jesus.  Come and learn more about this gospel, its skillful author, and its divine subject.

“In only seven classes, the Gospel of Mark course transformed how I read the Bible” – Theresa Chu


Whose Bible? Which Interpretation?  An Introduction to Hermeneutics

 Is it possible to make sense of the countless translations, interpretations, and debates about the meaning of the Bible today?  Students will be introduced to some of the major interpretive questions in reading the Bible (language, history, genre, worldview, etc.) and be apply their learning to reading various types of biblical texts both inside and outside of class.

“Walking through Old Testament texts has molded and shaped a greater understanding of God’s character.” – Anonymous Student