[Disclaimer: much of this advice is geared towards an urban campus where most students have full-time job outside of their educational work]
I think I mentioned before that I have chosen Clayton Croy’s A Primer of Biblical Greek for my class, as it is very basic and the seminary has used it many times before.
What to do the first week [we meet once a week for three hours, over 10 weeks]?
These classes can be very scary for students who have never studied a language, especially one in a different script.
My goal for the first week is to keep it basic, introduce the letters and their pronunciation, and get them comfortable with the foreignness of it all. I am purposely taking it easy for the first two weeks. This is partly because it is conceivable that some students may decide to join the course in the second week and I don’t want to already be on chapter 5 or something. I plan to do two chapters a session starting week 3. That way, we are just about half-way through the book at the end of the first quarter.
I’d like to spend about half an hour on just trying to pronounce words in Greek from the NT (which is an exercise in Croy, ch. 1). This is important because I know students in their final year of the MDIV who still don’t really know how to pronounce Greek words! Sad. Also, studies have shown that the better students are at pronunciation, they are in a better place to retain grammatical information. So, do as much out-loud work as you can!
Explaining diphthongs can sometimes be a challenge, but the key is to continue demonstrating pronunciation and how they act as one vowel in syllabification.
I have decided, as a first week devotional, to simply point out the alliteration of the use of kappa words in Philippians 3.2. It is not glamorous, but it is certainly intentional on Paul’s part and is poetic in Greek in a way it is not in English, of course. Anyone else have ideas?
It is no controversial statement to say that most biblical commentaries comes from America, the UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and a few other parts of Europe. However, there is a booming population of Christians in Africa who either do not have access to this scholarship physically, or are not able to bridge the cultural gap.
Zondervan has partnered with some publishers in Africa to present the African Bible Commentary Series and the first volume is now out on the Pastoral Epistles.
What makes this series special is that it is produces entirely by Africans, so the anecdotes, and applications are less focused on America and England, and more on African life. Also, there are some traditions in African cultures that bring us closer to the culture of life in the ancient Mediterranean world, though I am sure there are major differences as well.
I think this is a very worthy endeavor. I have friends who are missionaries, teaching at a theological college in Zimbabwe. I am sure they desire to have locally produced scholarship to inspire and instruct their students with relevant analogies and in a manner that is easy for them to understand. I am excited to see the series produced and used in Africa and around the world – I may even borrow some choice stories.
UPDATE: This information comes from Christopher Wright:
It is worth noting that the book is published in Africa by Hippo Press – a consortiu of African evangelical publishers that have combined under the facilitation of Langham Literature – one of the ministries of Langham Partnership International which in the USA is known as John Stott Ministries. This book is part of the fulfilment of the dream of John Stott himself to encourage indigenous scholars ans writers in the majority world countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. It is exciting to see this vision bearing fruit. Sam Ngewa is also one of the editors of the Africa Bible Commentary – which has sold over 80,000 in English in Afria, and is available also in French, Portuguese, and Swahili, with translations in Hausa, Amharic and Malagasi on the way. This too is entirely written by African evangelical scholars, some of whom got their doctorates through Langham - JSM. Check out the stories at www.johnstott.org
This year’s Wheaton Theology Conference (April 16-17, 2010) is in dialogue with Bishop of Durham, N.T. Wright and his dialogue partners for the weekend are very impressive!
Of course Wright will be there, not just for a fly-by, but all weekend with several lectures and a Q & A! But – there is more. Throw in Richard Hays, Markus Bockmuehl, Sylvia Keesmaat, Brian Walsh, Kevin Vanhoozer, Marianne Meye Thompson, and Edith Humphrey and you have what looks to be an amazing discussion!
For the schedule see HERE. Soon there will be a permanent link on the sidebar.
At some point, perhaps a bit closer to the conference, I would like to do something like “an Idiot’s Guide t o NT Wright,” perhaps split into three parts: Wright on Paul, Wright on Jesus, Wright on Biblical Theology.
I could write the Paul post, but would any of you be interested in doing either of the other two? I would like to get each part onto scribd and maybe, if the pieces are professional enough, we could get Wheaton to link to it to help registrants prepare and refresh their memories for the conference. Just a thought!
I came across an advert for a very exciting forthcoming book from Zondervan:
Four Views on Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology (out in November, I think).
The question is – who are the four scholars?
Overall, they chose well.
Walter Kaiser – A Principlizing model
Daniel M. Doriani – A Redemptive-Historical model
Kevin Vanhoozer – A Drama-of-Redemption model
William Webb – A Redemptive-Movement model
Aside from being a good debate overall, this is one of the most critical issues in biblical studies and hermeneutics at this time. This kind of discussion is even long overdue.
In fact, if this book lives up to what we normally expect from these authors, this might even become a standard textbook in hermeneutics courses. I know that this is exactly the kind of issue that seriously affects pastoral ministry, personal life choices for Christians, and attitudes towards the ongoing relevance of Scripture. I am very excited to see what this book is like, as I also enjoy reading the thoughts of the respondents.
This particular COUNTERPOINTS volume is unique in that the respondents include Chris Wright, Mark Strauss, and Al Wolters.
I have decided to try and blog through my experience teaching NT Greek (for the sixth time!). Though I have developed some habits and systems for how I teach Greek, I always want to be refining my teaching. I may not post on every week’s worth of material, but I want to blog enough that I can offer ongoing advice and I can also get some advice now and again.
So – the first class (which will be Oct 5):
I have chosen to teach from Clayton Croy’s A Primer of Biblical Greek (Eerdmans, 1999).
I picked this book for several reasons. First, I like Mounce, but I taught with it four times and I am ready for something different. I also taught Duff (which is popular in the UK) and I did not like it at all. Second, it comes highly recommended from my colleague here at Ashland Seminary, David deSilva – someone whose opinion I trust! Thirdly, since I am teaching at an extension campus with mostly students who have full-time jobs, I needed something simple (even if a bit simplistic) and that wouldn’t scare students away. Finally I like that Croy introduces the reader to the LXX and encourages students to understand the significance of it for NT study.
My overall plan is to take it easy the first couple of weeks – to ease the students into the course. We meet once a week for three hours and there are 10 weeks in a term (and we will meet for two terms). This is not ideal, as it is better for learning purposes to spread the work and instruction over two, and ideally three, days a week. But – I did not design the schedule and, frankly, this one-block system works best for commuters.
So, we will spend a lot of time in the first class getting to know the alphabet, working on pronunciation, and looking at those funny things called breathing marks and accents.
I want to do a devotional that would be suitable for the first day – something having to do with the Greek alphabet. Any thoughts?
Also, we will try a couple of songs – one is the Greek alphabet – the tune I got from Bill Mounce. It is from a nursery rhyme I think. The other song is ‘he is Lord’, but we will use kyrios throughout the song when you are meant to sing ‘he is Lord’ (i.e., ‘ky-ri-os, ky-ri-os, he is risen from the dead, ky-ri-os, every knee shall bow, every tongue confess, I-e-sou ky-ri-os…). That way I can also introduce the fact that you did not really need to say, in Greek, ‘he is…’, because that part is implied. YOu could properly say, ‘Every tongue will confess “Jesus Lord”‘, and leave out the verb.
That is the plan. I intend to do slides on Powerpoint, but that becomes tedious after a while. I will certainly use it for the first few weeks, and maybe even the whole first semester (it serves as kind of a lesson-plan for me and it keeps me on track). When we get into the second term, we end up spending more time on exceptions to paradigms and unusual forms that the discussion is centered more on the nuts and bolts of translating, parsing, and interpreting and less on understanding paradigms.
More to come!
Probably one of the most useful things I have done on my blog, as others have told me, is conduct interviews with young scholars who have published their phd theses with monograph series.
To make these interviews easily available, you will notice that they appear on the right sidebar of the blog under the master heading of monograph series. I still need to add one or two more, as interviews come in, but you have here the biggies. Someone has made the suggestion that I have direct links to the sites of the series. I will work on this.
Any other series I am missing of recognition and interest?
In a future post, I hope to summarize my own findings, in large part based on these interviews. I will discuss what factors are most important to me and what would be my own top choices.
First, you will notice in the title of this blogpost I said ‘mail’ and not ‘post’ – this is part of my re-integration into the American language.
Ok, so, I was indeed delighted to get a thicker book-package in the mail. And, as I was expecting, it was Gordon Fee’s new First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians in the Eerdmans NICNT series (edited by Fee!).
The book is well over 300 pages, but it still appears slim for a NICNT volume. A flip through will reveal that Fee is not trying to be exhaustive in his interaction with secondary literature (e.g., he does not appear to have done a lot of work with monographs and articles on 1-2 Thessalonians). Nor does he appear to be trying to divulge the ancient world of the text by heavy comparison with Greco-Roman and Jewish parallel or background texts. What we have here, I assume, is good, old-fashioned, ‘exegesis’ – the kind of know and love from Gordon. His aim is to reach and enlighten (and enliven!) the ‘busy pastor’, as the dust jacket says.
Well, I have a few passages I will take a peak at and get back to you as to whether this volume ranks with his magisterial Philippians and 1 Corinthians volumes. My guess is that it will not quite reach that status, because it just can’t compete with Wanamaker and Malherbe, but I am sure it will offer a expository element that is incisive and teeming with life. We might also get some good text-critical insights as well!
I am pleased to announce that I have a new article in Restoration Quarterly (vol. 51, Num. 3, 2009) entitled:
‘Towards a Set of Principles for Identifying and Interpreting Metaphors in Paul: Prosagoge (Romans 5:2) as a Test Case’ (pp. 169-181).
In my highest hopes, I wanted to do for metaphors and hermeneutics what Hays has done with allusions/echoes by developing diagnostic tools to sharpen the discussion. I will never reach that goal, but this is a very critical area of study and one that will be given more and more attention.
If you are considering doing a PhD in NT, think about working in the area of metaphor theory, cognitive linguistics, and literary criticism. It is an area that is booming right now.
Redefining First-Century Jewish and Christian Identities: Essays in Honor of Ed Parish Sanders (eds. F.E. Udoh et al., Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 2009).
I really enjoy the idea of Festschriften and often essays devoted to a particular topic can be very useful for scholarship (as it often brings together world-class scholars who want to honor a retiring mentor or colleague). It is hardly debatable that Ed Sanders has influenced biblical scholarship in many ways. Thus, when I saw this FS, I was very eager to get my hands on it.
The format of the Fs follows three areas in which Sanders has had influence: Judaism, Jesus, and Paul (after some introductory chapters). The list of contributors is very impressive: (including but not limited to) D. Moody Smith, Jouette Bassler, Shaye Cohen, Martin Goodman, Eric Meyers, Sean Freyne, Peter Richardson, Adele Reinhartz, Paula Fredriksen, Stephen Hultgren, John P. Meier, Craig Hill, Heikki Räisänen, Richard Hays, Stanley Stowers, and John Barclay! What is striking is not just the caliber of the scholars here, but the also diversity.
In an article I had written on Paul’s ethics for Currents in Biblical Research, I drew heavily from an early copy of Richard Hays’ essay that ended up in this volume – highly recommended!
A special treat in this book is the chapter written by Sanders himself, reflecting on his scholarly career and how his various influences developed (chapter 2: ‘Comparing Judaism and Christianity: An Academic Autobiography’). This is the first essay I read (and so far the only one!), and it is very insightful and interesting. Something Sanders says is worth reproducing:
[A comment about his convinctions going into his phd]
‘I had three views about the field that I was entering and what I would like to do: (1) Religion is not just theology, and in fact is often not very theological at all. NT scholarship then (and now) paid too much attention to theology and not enough attention to religion…(2) To know one religion is to know none. The human brain comprehends by comparing and contrasting, and consequently comparison in the study of religion is essential, not optional. (3) New Testament scholars ought to study Judaism’ (14)
Later on, Sanders emphatically states ‘…the most important lesson of my life: you really know what you learn for yourself by studying original sources’ (p. 22).
As I work through this very interesting Fs, I hope to focus on a selection of chapters:
‘The Problem of Self-Definition: What Self and Whose Definition?’ (J. Bassler)
‘Jesus in Jewish Galilee’ (Freyne)
‘On the Source of Paul’s Problem with Judaism’ (Craig Hill)
‘A Controversal Jew and His Conflicting Convictions: Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People Twenty Years After’ (Räisänen)
‘What is “Pauline Participation in Christ”?’ (Stowers)
‘Grace and the Transformation of Agency in Christ’ (Barclay)
On a more personal note, it is a very attractive volume visually and there are lots of little graphic flourishes that demonstrate that a lot of work has gone into the design.
More to come…
I have received lots of positive feedback from my posts of interviews with those who have published in the top 5-6 monograph series for New Testament. To fulfill a special request, I will also be posting soon an interview with a researcher who published with the Princeton Theological Monograph Series.
Are there other high-class series that I have missed?
I have tossed around the idea of tracking down someone with Peeters and also Peter Lang. I have not been very satisfied with either of these, but maybe then I need to understand why they are attractive to some!
So – please, let me know what other information you would like, both in terms of which publishers and also if there are particular questions you want me to ask!