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JAF Program Details JAF Program

JAF Program Details

As Gordon’s one-year great books program, The Jerusalem and Athens Forum strives to help students reflect on the relationship between faith and intellect, deepen their own sense of vocation, and awaken their capacities for intellectual and moral leadership. Read more below to learn what it looks like in practice.

The second-century church father Tertullian famously asked:

"What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?"
"What has the Academy to do with the Church?"

These questions have resonated over Christian learning for centuries, focusing the mind on the relationship between faith and intellect, piety and thought. More broadly, they prompt the reflective Christian to consider what it means to be faithful in the realms of culture, society, science, and politics.

The Jerusalem and Athens Forum is designed to allow promising students to explore these questions in the context of a great books honors program in the history of Christian thought and literature. The two-semester program is founded on the premise that the present and future suffer when the wisdom of the past is neglected.

The Jerusalem and Athens Forum is a two-semester program.

Fall Semester: JAF 301 Tradition: From Antiquity to the Enlightenment (6 credits)
Readings during the fall semester begin with the foundations of Western literature, and include early church fathers, medieval, Renaissance and Reformation thinkers.

Spring Semester: JAF 302 Modernity: From the Enlightenment to the Present (6 credits)
Readings during the spring semester continue from modernity to the present day, and emphasize Christian trans-Atlantic migration, bioethics and the state of Evangelical Christianity in the present American context.

Fall Semester: JAF 301

Spring Semester: JAF 302

A Student's Guide to Liberal Learning
by James V Schall

by Blaise Pascal

Leisure, the Basis of Culture
by Josef Pieper

The Wealth of Nations
by Adam Smith

by Plato

Democracy in America
by Alexi de Tocqueville 

Nicomachean Ethics
by Aristotle

Brothers Karamazov
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

by Saint Augustine of Hippo

Handmaid's Tale 
by Margaret Atwood

The Rule of St. Benedict
by Saint Benedict of Nursia  

Rerum Novarum
by Leo XIII

Pilgrim's Progress
by John Bunyan

Four Quartets
by T.S. Eliot

Paradise Lost
by John Milton

Kafka, The Judgment and other Stories
by Kafka

The Protestant Reformation 
by Hans Hillerbrand

The Day the Revolution Began
by N.T. Wright

Hildegard of Bingen, Selected Readings
by Hildegard

The Complete Short Stories
by Flannery O'Connor

The  Divine Comedy
 by Dante Alighieri

At the beginning of the academic year, the Jerusalem and Athens Forum sponsors a weekend retreat. The two-day retreat includes a Friday afternoon discussion with an invited speaker and an evening worship gathering. On Saturday, students enter group discussions and spend an afternoon enjoying various outdoor activities on the North Shore.

The retreat is held at either Adelynrood Retreat and Conference Center (Byfield, MA) or at Rolling Ridge Retreat and Conference Center (North Andover, MA).

The Jerusalem Athens Forum serves as a bridge between Gordon and the cultural opportunities afforded by Gordon's location. Over the years, JAF participants have visited places such as the Museum of Fine Arts, the Peabody Essex Museum and the Boston Opera House.

Outings in Boston and across New England include:

Actors' Shakespeare Project 
Boston Lyric Opera 
Boston Ballet 
Boston Opera House 
BU Huntington Theater 
Carmelite Convent 
Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church 
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum 
Islamic Society of Boston 
Museum of Russian Icons 
NorthShore Music Theater 
Peabody Essex Museum 
St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church 
The Orthodox Church of St. John the Russian 

Each spring semester students participate in an Oxford-style public debate. The debate is a venerable institution in Western higher education dating from medieval universities. While largely an exercise in public oratory, the JAF annual debate is also a time for members of the Gordon community to engage in the cumulative work of collaborating students.

The Jerusalem and Athens Forum has helped launch students into some of the most prestigious and competitive graduate programs at universities including Yale, Princeton, Notre Dame, Boston College, Boston University, Duke, University of Edinburgh, Oxford, Rutgers, University of Pennsylvania and Brandeis. Program alumni have interned at the White House, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Wall Street Journal and the Consortium of Christian Colleges and University. The directors provide guidance with preparation for post-baccalaureate education and work choices.

The Jerusalem and Athens Forum offers opportunities to hear and interact closely with both Visiting Scholars and Gordon Faculty. JAF provides the opportunity for small group discussion and Q&A with scholars such as N.T. Wright, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity from the University of St. Andrews, Dr. Ken Bishop, Oncologist/Hematologist at Sturdy Memorial Hospital and Dr. Nancy Hill, Charles Bigelow Professor of Education at Harvard.  

Gordon faculty such as Dr. Puffert, Associate Professor of Economics, Dr. Sheratt, Professor of Political Science and Dr. Bruce Herman, Lothlorien Distinguished Chair of Fine Arts provide expert perspectives across the disciplines.