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writing things down…

Didaskalia

It looks like I might be teaching some intensives in the Winter and Spring quarters of next school year.  This will require me to travel to Seattle five Saturdays per quarter and spend six hours in a classroom.  Having enough material for each class period feels a bit daunting.  For the Winter, I will likely teach exegesis of Ephesians.  This will give me a chance to revise what I did last Spring in a normal course format.  In the Spring, I will teach an NT intro course on Acts-Revelation.  This one is going to take some work.  I’ve never done it and the typical introductory material for these sorts of courses was never my forte.  I would rather talk about grander hermeneutical issues of reading than explore the history and such lying behind and within the texts.  I realize this sort of thing is necessary; I just never found it as intriguing as other things.  So, I have some work to do.  Here’s a list of questions to the biblioblogosphere:

  1. Any advice for teaching in such an intensive format?
  2. Any advice on how to make NT intro interesting to me and to the students?  I’d rather not have them open their heads and have me dump in info.
  3. There are too many NT intro textbooks.  Do you have a favorite?
  4. Since a good portion of Acts-Revelation is the Pauline corpus, do you have any favorites for intro to this material?
  5. How do I keep such an intro course from becoming another course on Paul?  There is a good bit of material not attributed to him.
  6. And, one final one, for the exegesis course.  What should be the primary purpose of an exegetical course on any book?  And more pointedly, what should be the primary focus of the exegesis of Ephesians?

I am a sponge right now.  Any and all advice, suggestions, etc. are much appreciated.

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7 Comments»

  dave beldman wrote @

I don’t know anything about the available literature but it seems that Blomberg’s recent book, From Pentecost to Patmos: An Introduction to Acts Through Revelation, would be the obvious choice for a textbook (at least knowing a little about your interests from your blog). See: http://www.amazon.com/Pentecost-Patmos-Introduction-Through-Revelation/dp/0805432485/ref=sr_1_1/105-1418083-6963663?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1185761103&sr=8-1

  Tyler Watson wrote @

In a lot of ways, I don’t envy you. I wasn’t a fan of Fuller dividing the NT only into two sections. I thought there ought to have been three classes on the NT: Gospels, Paul, and Later NT with Acts. I don’t say that because I’m such an emphatic Paul guy, but because I thought the later NT received little attention. Also, because of the time restraints, we had to focus on Paul as a whole rather than digging into each book. But given that’s how Fuller breaks it up, I don’t see how it can be better taught. An intensive? Yeesh. All that said, I’ll take a stab at some of your questions and remember this is all from the experience of the student since I’ve never taught an intensive course. (Also, not to blow smoke up your shirt, but you did a remarkable job handling the 10-week Greek intensive when I was your student. You have the teaching chops.)

1. Make sure there are times for students to split up and discuss the matters at hand. Lecture for 4 hours straight sucks — the amount and quality of retention and work decreases with each hour and the intensive basically fizzles the last couple of days. And I think it would be exhausting for you as well. (I really like Goldingay’s approach in teaching intensives, though the daily homework can be a lot.)

2. This is related to the answer to question #1. While in groups, give them a mix of questions, particularly stuff that relates to current ministry so that they can experience an academic approach to Scripture that appreciates that Scripture is alive. Make sure they’re reading the Bible, not just texts about the Bible. Force them to make the connections themselves too; don’t just tell them how it relates to ministry, but ask them to say how they would explain/engage what they learn in the class in their ministry setting. Giving some examples helps get their imagination going. (This is related to my overall view of school in general, and graduate work in particular: it’s not that seminary taught me the right things, but it taught me how to think.)

3. Raymond Brown’s Introduction to the NT has been my favorite. It’s accessible, but still very academic. I found Achtemeir, Green, and Thompson’s Introducing the NT to be a bit shallow for graduate work, though I wouldn’t hesitate giving it to someone wanting to explore the NT further without a seminary degree. Similarly, Metzger’s short introduction was good, but I don’t know if it’s a bit dated. That is to say, I guess it depends on the audience.

4. N. T. Wright’s What St. Paul Really Said is short and sweet, but it isn’t so much an overview as his argument for his perspective on Paul. Paul’s got so much extra baggage. I think something that can explain the debates surrounding him in modern scholarship would be helpful. Horrell’s An Introduction to the Study of Paul works well with that goal. Still, I wished someone would have succinctly described to me the basics of the New Perspective and why it’s so controversial.

5. I really don’t know how to answer this question given my thoughts in the first paragraph. This is the trick for people teaching Acts – Revelation. I guess the best thing to do is prepare a strict schedule beforehand and don’t budge. Treat each of his books as important as the other books of the NT. Slogging over Paul will always be a temptation since everyone is rather opinionated about him. Allow meeting times over meals after class in order to fill out the debates surrounding Paul.

6. This is an interesting question, one I’m not sure I thought about before. I suppose the purpose of any exegesis is for the student to become extremely familiar with the book. They should know what the book actually says, not what they’ve heard what it says. My Matthew class sunk that text into by bones. Be sure students get the big picture of the book — have them read it all the way through several times in different translations. Also, I liked Cambridge’s New Testament Theology series (we read Luz’s Matthew book) as a means of giving an overview of the theology of individual books that sometimes gets left out of or relegated to the introduction to critical commentaries. (I believe Bauckham is the general editor of the series.) As for Ephesians, I’m not sure. It’s a favorite of mine, but I haven’t really explored it from an academic standpoint. I think breaking free of an individualistic reading of the text is important — chapter 2 doesn’t make sense and we can get bogged down in ugly debates about the household rules if we think it’s only addressed to the individual.

  Chris wrote @

Thanks Tyler! Very helpful. I’d like to challenge you a bit. I’d like to see you do a series of blog posts that offers advice to new seminarians. I’ve seen things like “What I didn’t learn in seminary.” It would be nice to see something like “What I did well and what I wish I had done better while in seminary.” I think you are the sort of person to do this.

  Tyler Watson wrote @

Thanks Chris, I may take you up on that. For now, I’ll point you to a post I wrote as I finished seminary. I titled it, “Seminary Killed My Faith, and That Ain’t Bad.” Let me know what you think after you read it.

  Tyler Watson wrote @

Hey Chris, I decided to take you up on the challenge. My first post is in the works.

[…] Chris Spinks offered me the following challenge in the comments of his blog post regarding his teaching a couple of intensives: […]

  Erika Haub wrote @

I don’t know how many pages you are allotted to give for reading, and whether an entire book on Revelation could be justified in a survey class, but Bauckham’s “Theology of the Book of Revelation” was one of my favorite books from my seminary education (Volf assigned it to us in our Systematics III class back in the mid 90’s). Oh, and I echo Tyler’s comment about the Green and Thompson book…


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