Friday, July 17, 2009

Introducing the New Testament Class

Thanks to Rafael for asking about my teaching! So here's what I've decided regarding our intro course to the New Testament.
  1. David deSilva's An Introduction to the New Testament will be the class text, but we'll also be making plenty of use of Cohick, Burge and Green's The New Testament in Antiquity. The reason I chose deSilva is simply because it's so comprehensive. [I may teach hermeneutics next semester and I'll use this text with Michael Gorman's Element's of Biblical Exegesis] deSilva is the best introduction I own, and I've worked through at least 10 of them in preparing this course. The New Testament in Antiquity is very good, colourful, and informative, but deSilva just has more! Plus, I teach in a seminary and we're just as interested in academic study as we are in character and Spiritual formation, and deSilva's material is good.
  2. I have an overview lecture on the historical Jesus, focussing more his aims and intentions (following Ben Meyer and N. T. Wright) and his message of the reign of YHWH. I've set as an optional reflection an article on the Third Quest, and a compulsory reflection on Wright's chapter "The Mission and Message of Jesus" in The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions.
  3. I've tried to include a discussion of either a Jewish or Roman source in every lecture. So, when I deal with 1 Thessalonians, I'll be picking up on the imperial background, when I deal with Galatians, I'll be dealing with covenantal nomism, and so forth. I've found a great resource on coins of the ancient world. I'll also be using The New Testament in Antiquity as a resouce for background information, as well as giving them a list of anthologies dealing with primary sources. They also have to reflect on chapters 2 & 3 of deSilva which cover this terrain well.
  4. As noted above, we'll be using deSilva as the text, but also Cohick, Burge and Green. I've also put together a file of articles that they can reflect on or just read for themselves, as well as a small bibliography of helpful commentaries, books and articles on each gospel/epistle/apocalypse.
  5. I've chosen to deal with Paul letter by letter, but grouping them together and emphasizing a particular theme from each letter. So the obvious one is Romans & Galatians, where I'll be dealing with the New Perspective, and 1 & 2 Thessalonians where I'll be dealing with eschatology.

The outline will be a) Introduction & Setting; b) Jesus: Mission and Message; c) Matt & Mark; d) Luke & Acts; e) 1 & 2 Thessalonians; f) 1 & 2 Corinthians; g) Romans & Galatians; h) Philippians & Philemon; i) Colossians & Ephesians; j) Pastoral Epistles; k) 1 & 2 Peter plus Jude; l) Hebrews and James; m) Gospel of John; n) Epistles of John; o) Apocalypse of John. We may also have a guest lecture on Hebrews by our First Testament lecturer. If that happens, I'll shift Jude with James and do a lecture on the "The Wisdom of the Brothers."

I have three hours to teach each class, with a 25min break of course. The hardest lecture to write was on Jesus. There is SO MUCH to include, but in the end it's just a sketch. One is tempted to overwhelm students, but that's not going to help them. Perhaps another time will afford me the opportunity to explore the historical Jesus in depth!

Anything else you want to know?


Brandon said...

Definitely sounds like a fun course. Thanks for the link to the Roman coins on Flickr, which is absolutely amazing.

Sean said...

Hey Brandon, I'm fully loving that coin site! The pictures are super clear, and they provide such great entry points to discussing the imperial backdrop of the New Testament. I'm actually blowing them up and sticking them up all around the class room just so its in their face as the come into class.

Shot for the tip on Evans. I've got the old copy of Evans, but will get the new one asap and recommend it to my students.

Rafael said...

Thanks, Sean. Sounds like a great course. I'll be interested in your thoughts on whether or not an introduction to the entire NT is a worthwhile class, either for the teacher or the students. In my school we survey the NT in 3-4 courses, which is great. But then we don't have time to allow students very many courses focused on specific texts/issues. That's the trade off with which I'm wrestling at the moment.

Best of luck!

Eddie said...

Hi Rafael,

Me and Sean discussed quite a bit about the nature of the course. There's so much to introduce students to that fitting it into 1 semester just seems ridiculous. Can you really introduce the NT world, literature, and history in one semester? And that's to say nothing about hermeneutics, the necessary skills for interpreting each work and then being formed by each.

We think DeSilva has got it right in how he covers all these areas to some degree, especially how he weds the survey of the literature with interpretive methods. Why do we separate these two in courses?

I suppose its a question of how introductory do we want to be.