Monday, April 12, 2010

How would you structure a New Testament Intro course?

This continues the thread of "comments I don't want to lose" that I've made either on discussion boards or other peoples' blogs. Some time ago on Chris Tilling's old blog, he asked:
Let us imagine you could teach a NT introduction course to 1st and 2nd year undergraduates in 10 sessions. In this imaginary scenario there is already a really superb looking syllabus, but you simply want to think through different options.

What would you suggest should be covered? What themes, NT books, background matters, exegetical approaches, etc. would you want to see discussed? Especially if you preach regularly, what have you found to be of the most enduring help when you look back on NT introduction courses?

Now, have you ever heard a question that a programmer like me is less qualified to answer? But it's a discussion forum so I gave out my thoughts anyway, whether they're worth the two cents or not.

When you asked "if you preach regularly" -- it made me wonder about the intended audience.

If the point of the class is to prepare a pastor for a lifetime of drawing water from the well for himself and for others, my first sketch would be this:

1. What is the Gospel? Jesus as Christ and the human condition. How hearing the message of Christ plants the seeds of faith, hope, and love; how knowing Christ anchors and nurtures the same.

2. "Who do you say that I am? - Part 1" Different identities/roles that Jesus fulfills according to his own words and those about him in the NT.

3. "Who do you say that I am? - part 2" The struggle over the identity of Jesus: through the development of orthodoxy, the canon, through to the Enlightenment and on to modern efforts to reinterpret Jesus. Criteria for evaluating various interpretations.

4. Major teachings of Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount: proclaiming the God who blesses. The primacy of love: from the Torah to Jesus to Peter, Paul, and John.

5. The parables. Broken down by major themes: the God who plants a seed, the God who seeks, the God who gives justice, the God who forgives, the God whose kingdom comes.

6. Baptism and new life: Baptism, and repentance; baptism and forgiveness; baptism and the cross of Jesus; baptism and the cross we take up.

7. Jesus' death and resurrection.

8. The Holy Spirit: (you could teach a whole class on this easily, but in an intro I suppose only 1 session)

9. New creation and the coming kingdom: doctrines of hope.

10. Encouragement for pastors: the pastoral letters.

Chris did comment back:
Thanks for your list! There is a lot there on Gospel related issues. But I like the practical, ministry orientated nature of it.

Odd, the "But" at the start of the last sentence implies that "There is a lot there on Gospel related issues" was seen as a problem or drawback. To a Lutheran like me, it's a compliment. Though I wonder if he just meant I could have been plainer that the whole NT would be involved in the discussion on quite a few of the points.


Chris Tilling said...

"Odd, the "But" at the start of the last sentence implies that "There is a lot there on Gospel related issues" was seen as a problem or drawback"

Hi there, yea, I didn't mean the implied - though I totally understand why you would think that. My lack of clarity! Funny how communication gets complicated sometimes.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi Chris

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for clearing up the question there.

Hope all is going well over at the new blog.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF