radical new way to teach OT Intro!

On the biblical studies e-list there was a discussion about what text books would be good to use for an Old Testament Introduction class – the following quote was among the best of them all:

Personally, I recommend getting the students to just read the Bible: the best introduction they can have.  And it will put them ahead of many of their teachers.

Philip Davies
University of Sheffield

I know it sounds funny but sadly, this is true – probably having Bible College and Seminary or even Religious Studies students just read the Bible will be the best introduction they can get and will put them ahead of many of their teachers!  Perhaps this could be more true in State Universities/Coleges that have religious courses but I would wonder if this would be the case in very many of the Evangelical Schools?

It’s revolutionary though isn’t it?  Keep the Bible as the main text for biblical studies and ministry preparation.  I think it was Niels Peter Lemche on the Biblical Studies list, in the same discussion, who mentioned that often in oral exams he would note that the student had read a lot of books but had obviously not read the Bible!

I will say when took classes at Fuller Theological Seminary Northwest – my professor for Psalms (Hebrew (MT)  Text) asked us to read through the Psalms at least once during the class – and I know she did the same with whatever OT class she was teaching be it the Pentetuch, the Prophets. or the Writings if it was not a specific exegesis class.  So I know of at least one seminary that has at least one professor who asks her students to actually read the Bible.


12 responses to “radical new way to teach OT Intro!

  1. Pingback: Going to Seminary? Want Some Advice? Look no further! «

  2. well, probably in the exegetical classes but yeah, like you said not always mentioned in the Intro classes. I tend to wonder if it would be inappropriate for professors offer to help students move their class grade up a grade point if they read through one half of the Bible or the other during the length of a semester (e.g, if you read the whole NT this semester you could get enough extra credit to turn that B+ in to an A (at our seminary an A+ could only be granted with the approval of the Dean) or something along those lines) be it a Bible class, preaching class, theology class, or even a leadership class? Anything to get them to read the Bible?

  3. I teach NT History and Lit a Christian college that used to be a Bible college. I have also taught OT History and Lit as well. For both classes I required them to read through the OT or NT fresh that semester.

    In a Christian college where the majority had come from churches where they grew up, it was a shock to me. They do not know the Books of the OT or the Books of the NT in order. I have to give them a couple of class periods to work on it before I quiz them.

    The OT class became like a glorified Sunday School because they did not know the stories!

    My NT class has a little background to set the historical stage, but I spend the vast majority of the semester in the text. We need to read this stuff before we can discuss “background” and “higher criticisms” in my opinion.

  4. My freshman year at Moody, I took OT Survey in the fall and NT survey in the spring, and for both classes the only textbooks were a set of classnotes and the Bible. Our required reading was to read the entire Bible. These classes were core requirements for every student regardless of major.

  5. A few summers ago I audited an intensive (2 week, every weekday) summer school graduate Introduction to NT at Boston College (a Jesuit, Catholic university). Although I had taken a similar course many years previously, I wished to take it again because I had never had a course with the particular professor that year, Fr. Daniel Harrington (a well-known scholar, author, and editor of New Testament Abstracts).

    Although we did have a little book (written by the professor), the two main things I got out of the course were:
    (1) the extensive annotated bibliography for each NT book;
    (2) the stress of the professor to read through the entire NT, especially with his “warning” that many of the students may never get the opportunity again to read it in that way over such an compressed time period.

  6. Reading the biblical text was a given for my Bible classes at Dallas Theological Seminary. I have carried that practice over into my own teaching ministry.

  7. I wrote a post on how to best educate myself on the OT and commenters said to read it for yourself before reading anything about it. That’s what I’m going to do. Not that I haven’t read it before, but it’s been over three years.

    I still can’t help thinking that reading about how the major themes tie together and how they relate to the NT would be helpful. If I could be dissuaded that would be helpful.

  8. How amazing and ironic! Here we have the leading biblical minimalists Davies and Lemche, people who don’t think there is much historical truth in the Bible, giving lessons to evangelicals, those who believe in biblical authority and perhaps inerrancy, on the need to actually read the Bible. See this article for more on Davies’ view of the importance of the Bible.

  9. Pingback: συνεσταυρωμαι’s “Radical New Way to Teach OT Intro” « Daniel O. McClellan

  10. Excellent post! I teach Old Testament at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and while I do use a textbook all my students actually READ the books we are working on! I spend as much time as possible in the texts themselves during class, and I think that’s the only way to go! Thanks for the good post.

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