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portraits of christ Ii

to the
four gospels

critical minds
contemplative hearts

Portraits of Christ Fall 2022.jpg


with Fr. Vincent Pizzuto, PhD


Father Vincent Pizzuto, PhD is Professor of New Testament Studies and Christian Mysticism in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the (Jesuit) University of San Francisco. He received his doctorate in New Testament Exegesis from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium (2003) and has since published and presented internationally in the areas of New Testament christology, ecological discipleship, marriage equality, inter-religious dialogue, Christian mysticism and contemplative Christian spirituality. In 2018 he published his second book, Contemplating Christ: The Gospels and the Interior Life with Liturgical Press; translated in Spanish, Contemplar a Cristo: Los Evangelios y la vida interior, (Desclée de Brouwer) in January 2022. As an Episcopal priest Fr. Vincent serves as Vicar of St. Columba’s Episcopal Church and Retreat House in Inverness, California. Working for the advancement of contemplative Christianity, he has reinvigorated the mission and ministry of St. Columba’s through the introduction of contemplative eucharistic liturgies, public lectures, online courses, directed retreats, thought provoking sermons, an online blog and a weekly online study of his book through the Meditation Chapel.


The Eternal Birthed in time

The gospels, like the whole of scripture, hold out a divine-human tension, revealing truths that are at once eternal and yet expressed in ways that are historically conditioned. The Eternal, as it were, birthed in time. Using the language, idioms, and cultural references of their day, the four Evangelists (Mark, Matthew, Luke and John) crafted literary "Portraits of Christ" that would best speak to their respective audiences. When we lose sight of those ancient references, modern Christians inevitably miss some of the rich and textured meaning of Jesus' teachings, parables, and miracles throughout the gospels. 


In this second semester of St. Columba's Portraits of Christ series, Fr. Vincent Pizzuto, PhD, will introduce participants to the cultural, literary, religious, and historical context into which the New Testament was born. How was Christianity distinct from other religions of ancient Rome? Did you know we encounter six different Herods in the New Testament? What where the marks of ancient Judaism that distinguished it from the pagan religions of the Greco-Roman world? Who were the Pharisees and the Sadducees that Jesus frequently encountered in the gospels? What did the early church look like? How unified were early Christians in their beliefs about Jesus? Did you know some ancient Christians were polytheists, others denied the divinity of Jesus, and more surprising still, some denied the humanity of Jesus? As we come to learn of these fascinating aspects of the ancient world in which the gospels were written, we will also explore the earliest references to Jesus outside of Christian literature to see what (if anything) they can tell us about him or the early church itself. 

Especially designed for contemplatives, this second series of classes continues our rich, meditative, and stimulating exploration of the four gospels and the tools that help us to interpret them in ways that ground the life and practice of contemplative Christians today.


To explore aspects of the Greco-Roman world into which Christianity was born that inform a more authentic reading of the gospels

To interpret specific passages from the gospels in light of the Jewish and Gentile contexts that inform them and deepen our understanding of them

To examine the vibrant diversity of the early church and the theological debates waged among its various members

To better appreciate the role of competition among early Christians that led to the formation of the New Testament canon as we know it


  • Seven pre-recorded online zoom presentations by Fr. Vincent, originally recorded in Fall 2022 with participants to facilitate their own self-paced study of the material

  • Media-rich "Captivate Lectures" that also can be watched repeatedly at your own pace

  • Full access to relevant educational tools, including: charts, graphs, maps, timelines, summaries, published articles, videos, presenter notes, personal journals, prompts for Lectio Divina, and worksheets all designed to engage participants in learning how to interpret the gospels with critical minds and pray them with contemplative hearts​


Cost: $150

Generous scholarships available.


I am interested in the course but cannot commit to any or all of the Zoom meetings. Can I still register?

Yes! All of the Zoom meetings will be recorded and made available the following day to all participants whether they are able to attend the session live or not. If you need to miss any or all of the meetings due to scheduling conflicts, you can review the recording at your own pace.

I wish to take the course but have limited financial resources. What should I do?

Scholarships are available for those in need of financial assistance in order to ensure that no one is turned away from our programming for lack of funds. If you are in need of financial assistance, simply indicate that in our confidential online application form. If you have any questions about your registration, our administrator, Anna Haight may be emailed here.

How do I contribute to the Scholarship Fund?

The St. Columba’s Scholarship Fund is an essential way we ensure that no one is turned away from our programing. For those who are able to afford an additional amount toward our Scholarship fund, simply indicate the amount of your contribution in the PayPal form. We very much appreciate your generosity. All monies donated to our Scholarship fund are put into a restricted account to be used solely for the purpose of providing those in need with access to our programming. While our workshops do incur a cost on our staff and facilities, Fr. Vincent does not accept any financial stipends or any portion of the funds raised by this course. His dedication in producing meaningful content, reflective of our mission and vision, allows us to provide rich offerings to all who wish to participate.

I did not take the first course in the Spring of 2022, can I still take this course?

Yes!  While these courses slowly build upon previous semesters, each one stands on its own merit. If you did not yet take the first course in Spring 2022 it is now being made available on our website as a self-paced online course. There is plenty of time to take that course on your own before starting our Fall 2022 course. Or, you may take the previous course at any time of your choosing. Please note that scholarships are available for all current and previous courses. As always, simply indicate your request in the check-box of our confidential online application form.

I am unfamiliar with the Bible. May I still take this course?

Yes!  Anyone who is interested and willing to put in a bit of effort will learn much. The course is designed to move at a gradual meditative pace with many opportunities for self-paced study throughout the week between the live Zoom presentations. 

What materials do I need to take the course?

Participants should have access to a critical English translation of the Bible. Access to the New Revised Standard Version can be found at Bible Gateway free of charge. Ideally, however, a printed copy of the Bible will be better. Since we are studying the Bible in English, it helps for various participants to have different versions of the Bible as this can illuminate how nuances in translation effect meaning. To that end, Fr. Vincent recommends the purchase any one of the following three versions. Please click on the underlined price for each version to link directly to that edition.


The New Revised Standard Version (Oxford Annotated Edition)  Soft Cover: $16; Hard Cover: $34

Benefits: Among the most critical modern English translation produced by the National Council of Churches. This is the version used on Sundays in the Episcopal Church as well as many mainline Protestant churches.

The New Jerusalem Bible (Study Edition)  Hardcover: $73

Benefits: This is the version Fr. Vincent will teach from throughout the series. However, some may not consider this correspondence a ‘benefit’ because having alternative translations helps us to see potential variations in meaning.

The New American Bible (Anselm Academic Study Edition)  Paperback: $36

Benefits: This is the version used on Sundays in the Roman Catholic Church.

Other Materials Needed:

A Notebook: For those who wish to print and collate the materials presented during the course, we recommend a three-ring binder. Computer or other device with WiFi and Zoom access.

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