4th year begins

First day back at uni yesterday. Despite the long summer break it hardly feels like I’ve been away.

I had two classes yesterday (I have one on Friday as well), both quite different. The first was Biblical Interpretation which was the class I tried to get out of but couldn’t. I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as I anticipated. The lecturer (for part of it anyway) is Prof Larry Hurtado. He comes across as a little bit dour when you chat to him but he’s quite animated when lecturing and really quite engaging. Yesterday was just an introductory session so not too heavy going. Mind you, it’s a small classroom and quite a busy class so the problem will be staying awake in a stuffy atmosphere. I’m still not overly taken by the content – it is very similar to the course I took last year and much of the focus is on historical-critical methods of Biblical interpretation, something that was heavily criticised in the course from last year.

The Hebrew Prophecy course should be interesting. Prof Hans Barstad is very knowledgeable but his lecturing style can be very off-putting until you’re familiar with it. He tends to wander off at tangents and it would be easy to switch off until he gets back on track, but there are wonderful little nuggets of teaching in his tangents and, all too often, he doesn’t get back on track. It’s only much later that you realise that, actually, he’s provided you with a lot of information to answer for yourself the question he got sidetracked from in the first place. He spent most of the first class setting out his position for teaching the Hebrew prophets – and it’s most definitely not from a historical-critical perspective, which he panned mercilessly (but I knew this and that’s why I wanted to do the course). However, that didn’t go down well with a couple of class members. One is German and is steeped in the historical-critical methodology. To be fair, he did say he was open to other approaches and I think he will get a lot out of the class. The other is from the US and seems to want the ‘right answers’. At least that’s the impression I got. She’s really not happy at the thought of more literary approaches to the Bible. However, if she gives it a chance she’ll discover that Barstad’s literary approach does not mean a liberal free-for-all in interpretation. A few of us in the class have had Barstad as a lecturer before so we know what to expect. We were chatting about it afterwards and it’s funny how particular lecturing ‘quirks’ stick in your head – and we all remembered the same ones. Maybe that’s a sign that he definitely makes an impression.

And some things never change – the potential for a huge photocopying bill for the reams of reading to be done.

Then just to cap off a busy day, I had to head to St. Andrews for the first of a series of meetings for the Ministries Training Network. This is part of the Church of Scotland training process for candidates. A short time of worship, a half hour Bible passage discussion, tea break and a one hour discussion of a theology article. I’m not altogether sure of what it achieved other than a very late return home and lots more miles on the car. At least the next one should be in Edinburgh.

6 responses to “4th year begins”

  1. Ah… back to being a student….
    You will no doubt be trying to take advantage of ministerial libraries rather then going for an overdraft for photocopying ??
    I’m envious of the time to simply study….I guess I had better research the possibilities of real study leave. Enjoy.

  2. I can’t imagine ministerial libraries having many of the books we’re reading. For example, how many ministers are likely to have commentaries on Luther’s commentaries? Or the complete set of Barth’s Church Dogmatics?
    The issues of time to study has been gnawing away at the back of my mind. That’s why I’m now swinging towards going for the post-grad year after all. It would have been nice to be earning a little again, but I doubt I’ll get another opportunity to do something like a masters.

  3. those lunch time hours discussing an article– do those offer no stimulus or insight for you?  i’d love to do that with others.

  4. Being able to discuss theology with others is a big attraction to maintaining the studies and when I’m in ministry I’d love the opportunity to encourage others to actively engage with what, I find, is a fascinating subject. But that might not be the sort of parish I’m called to (much as I’d love it to be).
    Mind you, lunch time discussions at uni are just as likely to be about the weather or sport as they are to be about theology.

  5. ministaerial libraries…. how may have you asked ? There may be some in Presbytery who share your passion. An intimation at Presbytery might help you…

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