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writing things down…

Archive for April, 2008

Teaching Acts

I’m slated to teach an exegesis course on the Book of Acts in the Winter or Spring of 2009.  I have to get the course approved first and part of that process is vetting an extended course description (ECD) with the appropriate department.  And, part of the ECD is, of course, the list of textbooks I plan to assign.  I’m still trying to decide on textbooks.  Any suggestions?

Another Despicable Church Sign

Not long ago Halden made a case for the worst church sign ever.

There is now another contender in that category.

Pastor Roger Boyd claims he just wanted to get folks thinking last Thursday when he chose a controversial message to run on the sign in front of the Jonesville Church of God in Jonesville, S.C.: “OBAMA OSAMA HUMM ARE THEY BROTHERS?”

Together Again

There is a bit of a blogger buzz about the announcement that the AAR has rescinded its decision not to hold concurrent annual meetings with the SBL.  As far as I can tell this is good news for everyone, except for a small few in each organization who simply do not like associating with one another. [I suspect the small few in the AAR are the most disappointed in the recent announcement, since, I suspect, they were the ones who spearheaded the separation in the first place.]

  • Booksellers no longer have to organize displays at two essential conferences, paying set up and travel expenses twice.
  • Schools no longer have to organize receptions at two conferences.  They can also consolidate their job searches at one conference.
  • Joint members no longer have to pony up a good bit of change to attend two conferences or decide which conference to attend each year.
  • Other organizations who hold annual meetings around the same times and locations as the AAR/SBL no longer have to weigh the benefits of coordinating with one or the other each year.  This is especially helpful when these other organizations have members who are also members of AAR and/or SBL.
  • Members of both organizations can continue to have fruitful interdisciplinary dialogue without attending two conferences.  They can also continue to see old friends and colleagues that they would otherwise not see if it were not for the joint meetings.

AAR has its meetings scheduled through 2011.  In 2011 there was always the plan to hold a concurrent meeting in San Francisco.  The SBL has its meetings scheduled through 2013.  With the announcement of concurrent meetings again beginning in 2012, the AAR has essentially also announced the locations of its 2012 and 2013 meetings—Chicago and Baltimore, respectively—although, these locations do not yet appear on their list of future meetings.

Introducing NT books: What’s important?

10 weeks.  That’s the length of a quarter term.  So, it is the amount of time I have to introduce (or survey) all of the books of the NT, except the four Gospels. In addition to the term limitation, I am teaching every other Saturday, skipping the Saturday that falls during Memorial Day weekend.  In other words, I will meet with the class just four times.  In order to get the necessary class contact hours, class sessions will be 7.5 hours long.  Are you getting a sense of what I’m up against?

But, I’m not throwing this out there to complain about the class set up.  It is what it is.  I’ll deal with it.  In fact, it suits my schedule well.  I don’t want to be away from my boys every weekend.

I’m bringing all of this up because with this class—more than “normal” ones I think—I realy must be selective with what I can hope to cover in the classroom itself.  The students will be reading some very good stuff (introduction, book on Paul, book on NT history, and a handful of dictionary articles).  I am not concerned that they will not be exposed to the kinds of things they need to be exposed to in a NT intro course. I am concerned about what it is I should say, do, and have students do for 7.5 hours this coming Saturday (and the three others to follow).  On the one hand, I do not want to waste their time simply repeating things they would have already read (assuming they complete the reading assignments).  On the other hand, I am not sure what things I can bring to the classroom that they will not already have read.  And, on top of the concern about content, I am concerned about attention and stamina—theirs and mine!

Also—this is a bigger issue and could open up a larger conversation—what are the important things any NT intro class should cover? It has been my experience that NT surveys spend an inordinate amount of time discussing authorship, dates, and the like.  I certainly do not want to neglect those aspects of a survey course, but I wonder how important those things are for seminarians. I’m more inclined to emphasize the books’ narrative/argumentative arcs, the important themes and topics, and the inter-relationship of these things among the various NT voices. Of course, to get at arcs, themes, and such, historical and cultural background issues will need to be addressed.  I’m just wondering what should receive the most emphasis.

So this is an open appeal to all, but especially more seasoned teachers and experienced students.  Teachers, what have you found to work in similar situations?  Students, what have you found to be effective for you as a learner?  All, what are your thoughts on the important matters to be covered by a NT intro course?

Of course, I’ve already developed the class structure and so these questions are being asked in order for me to reflect on what I’ve already got and not for me to come up with something. However, my style is a flexible one.  I rarely write full lectures and instead develop outlines or lists of talking points.  If I receive good advice, I can easily revise and adapt.  So, what say you? I’m all ears.

Tilling on Hauerwas’s Prayers

Hauerwas praying

Chris alerted me to his short series on Hauerwas’s Prayers Plainly Spoken.

BookChris Tilling

(Chris looks at the book in a very prayerful manner, don’t you think?)

Review of Long

Theology and Culture

There is a nice review by Haley Clark in The Other Journal (Mars Hill Graduate School) of one of my earliest editorial projects, Stephen Long’s Theology and Culture: A Guide to the Discussion, one of the titles in our Cascade Companion series.