Resources for Practices of Excellence in Theological Education
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Church History/Historical Theology
In an initial course in biblical interpretation, one instructor makes weekly assignments, each applying that week's method(s) to a text. Students work with the same text each semester. The final project puts it all together in their first exegetical paper, which then leads to a sermon manuscript.
Elective courses on biblical books sometimes spend so much time on introductory issues and the early chapters that they give only little attention to the latter chapters. Dr. Andrew Bartelt of Concordia Seminary avoided this with an interesting strategy in a graduate (quarter-long) seminar on Micah. Students first "speed translated" the book in about three weeks. Students then did presentations on key secondary works on the book (e.g., published dissertations). Finally, in a third pass through the book, students did presentations on particular texts.
Dr. James Boyce of Luther Seminary has developed a beginning Greek course that is designed to teach students to use Greek effectively in the ways most graduates use Greek in ministry, i.e., relying on tools such as Kubo, Zerwick, analytical lexicons, parsing guides, and computer programs, rather than closed-book parsings and translations. It is a surprisingly rigorous course. Boyce introduces and teaches students to use standard reference tools, including BDAG, reference grammars, the major concordances, theological dictionaries, etc. In five semester hours, students work through a remarkable amount of text. The final exam requires students to translate a text 10-15 verses, using any tools except a translation, and comment on significant issues of grammar, syntax, meaning of words (through lexical and concordance study) and textual variants. There is a subsequent elective for those who would like to take their language skills further (i.e., rapid reading without aids).
In an introductory systematics course that meets once a week for three hours, the intructor gives students three broad essay questions for each week (each from a different learning style: imagination, application, traditional academic). Students write 5-7 page essays on eight of these questions during the semester (no two questions may be from the same week).
Students in one foundational church history course come away with their own dictionary of church history (paragraphs on key figures in the tradition) and a binder they can use in studying for ordination exams and for teaching church history to laypeople in a parish setting.
In a course on the global church, one instructor sends students the first day on a "library scavenger hunt" Each student is to find relevant materials in a different assigned section of the Library of Congress classification system. The object is to teach students that materials that shed light on the topic are scattered all through the library and not just in a single LC code. (Needless to say, this assignment has been worked out with the library director in advance!)
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Last Updated: 6/24/06