Just imagine how different the history of humankind would have been without the influence of a
charismatic ex-artisan turned prophet, Jesus from Nazareth in Palestine. Just consider how easily
his movement might have run itself into the sand without the tireless dedication of a man called
Paul, whose feet were firmly planted in two worlds, the Jewish and the Greco-Roman. Just recall
the immense enrichment that the Christian Gospels have brought to many generations over
well-nigh two millennia. You learn something new every time you study them.
Those Gospels are strikingly sophisticated and purposeful documents. They allow us access
to that world-changing figure, Jesus of Nazareth, but do a good deal more than that. They offer a
window through which to view the communities that believed in him, and celebrated all he
meant to them. As far as they were concerned, he was more than a figure of the past: he
belonged to and shaped their present. But, we may ask, how?
Jesus has been the subject of countless attempts to reconstruct what he was about, what his
priorities were, how he lived, and why he died. TQQ students are not daunted by those earlier
attempts, nor deterred from revisiting the exercise of piecing together what may be known
And Paul – what can or should be said about this highly controversial figure, without whom
the Christian Church might well not exist? He continues to speak and deserves to be heard,
even if not uncritically, and so do his critics, both ancient and modern. But, we may ask, why?
There are not many courses that are able to offer this sort of extended and rigorous
coverage of the Gospels, Jesus and Paul, but such is the opportunity and the purpose of TQQ.
Exploring Christian Belief takes off from the reality that talk of God is talk conditioned by the life of a particular community as well as by perception of the world in which humankind lives. Therefore we move first to the study, not of God him/herself but of how God has been perceived, first as the God of creation with a special role in the community consciousness of the Jewish people; then to the study of the Christ of Christian tradition, including what he has been thought to be in relation to God, and to do in relation to humankind; and then to the Christian community and the ordering of its life and worship. Throughout the God-Christ-Spirit scheme generates recognition of the roots of Christian ethical reflection in theology.