The Teacher & The Preacher

CFS-Spring 2022
Six Weeks
Thursdays 9am-11am

Course Title:

The Teacher & The Preacher: Secular Readings of Ecclesiastes & the Sermon on the Mount

Course Description:

Two teachers, two preachers, two testaments, one religion—but was it Judaism or a radical new hybrid worldview beyond religion, perhaps beyond theism? We will read the twelve chapters of Ecclesiastes alongside three chapters containing the “Sermon on the Mount” from a humanistic perspective searching for relevant wisdom for our pluralistic time. With respect for faith and freethought, this course is open for believers and nonbelievers interested in truth that unites rather than divides.

Recommended Texts:

The Message on the Mountain (Highland); Breath, Death and Koheleth (Highland); New Revised Standard Version of the Bible


Chris Highland has been teaching at OLLI since 2016. With degrees from Seattle Pacific University and San Francisco Theological Seminary, he was a minister and chaplain prior to becoming a humanist celebrant. Author of numerous books, Chris writes the “Highland Views” column for the Asheville Citizen-Times. His website is: Friendly Freethinker.


Session OneKoheleth 1-3 +Introduction to the texts, methods of interpretation

PDF: “Teacher”-Langston Hughes

Koheleth in Hebrew

PDF: Religion & Secular

PDF: World Religions & Scriptures

PDF: Reading Sacred Scriptures

PDF: Major Themes & Questions in Koheleth

Session TwoKoheleth 4-6

PDF: Paradoxes

PDF: Humanism

Session Three-Koheleth 7-12

Jewish Reading of Koheleth

Liberal Protestant Reading of Koheleth

PDF: Isaac Asimov on Reading the Bible

Session Four-Matthew 5

Matthew in Greek

PDF: Tradition

PDF: Ego de Lego

Session FiveMatthew 6

PDF: Major Themes & Questions of the MM

PDF: Thomas Paine: The Age of Reason

Session Six-Matthew 7

What do we do with the Two Teachers?

Link: “The Golden Rule”

PDF: MLK (from “The Three Mothers”)

PDF: Gandhi and the Sermon on the Mount

Additional Resources:

PDF: Wendell Berry

PDF: Jefferson

PDF: Criticism

Nature Chaplain: “The Right Thing to Do”

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