Nurturing the Biblical Vision

Course descriptions and scheduling are subject to change by administrative decision. See course offerings booklet for current offerings. Some courses will be offered on a two- or three-year rotation.

General (BVG)

Students learn the Greek and Hebrew alphabets and enough of the basics of the languages to work with various language tools, such as lexicons, analytical lexicons, concordances and interlinear Bibles. Also treated are some of the difficulties and challenges of translating the Scriptures into modern language. Workbook exercises, lectures, readings and class discussions serve as the basic format of the course.

More than a study of a few select texts that deal with peacemaking, this course will explore and examine the various dimensions of peace in the Bible, with special attention to how the Bible as a whole functions as a foundation for peacemaking. The course will explore texts which reflect the everyday dimensions of wholeness, wellbeing, and security, as well as those which describe God’s attempts to make peace with rebellious humanity. A central figure in the biblical story of peace is Jesus, both as foundation of peace and as model for peacemaking. Texts and issues which present peacemakers with serious difficulties, such as the wars of Israel or the image of God as judge and warrior, will also be examined.

This course is concerned with the question of how biblical authority is made effective in the church today through proper interpretation. Such interpretation attempts both to uncover the inherent meaning of the text and to contextualize that meaning in contemporary life. The course gives attention to reading the biblical texts in their original context while attending to the way interpreters read from the perspective of their own cultural context. Methods are learned that preserve the normativity of Scripture in the process of relevant application to the life of particular cultures. Prerequisites (not applicable for online): BVOT 511, BVNT 512. Also BVG 511 for MACL program and BVG 511 or BVOT 532 and BVNT 531 for MDiv.

This course assists the student in building a theological framework for an understanding of Scripture as a unified revelation of God’s purpose and will. The unity of Scripture is sought within the diversity of literary form and development of history. Ways in which Christians have viewed and articulated the central and unitary character of the Bible are reviewed. Special attention is given to the relation of the two testaments and to the Christian use of the Old Testament. Prerequisite: BVG 621.

Old Testament (BVOT)

This Old Testament survey attempts to set the texts in their ancient Near Eastern context: history, culture, and religion. Attention is also given to the context(s) in which present day readers find themselves. Additional considerations include reading the O.T. as literature and also as the authoritative Word of God. Lectures, readings, inductive study questions, and limited class discussion are used.

This course is an introduction to biblical Hebrew. Hebrew vocabulary, grammar and syntax are introduced inductively in actual prose passages being read from the Hebrew Bible. The goal is to read and translate simple narrative biblical Hebrew. Classroom instruction and student recitation reinforce material presented in the workbook/textbook which is used alongside of a Hebrew Bible.

This continues the elementary course, reinforcing and refining the grammar and syntax, and expanding the vocabulary. The method continues to be inductive, with the reading of further biblical passages, primarily prose, but with some poetry as well. Textual criticism and use of the critical apparatus receive some attention. Prerequisite: BVOT 532.

Offered as needed:

The Hebrew text is scrutinized and commentaries consulted in the process of understanding the words and meanings of the passages. Translation attempts to bring the ideas into a form useful for worshippers today. The class format tends toward a seminar approach, with oral translation and student presentations augmented with discussions and lecture. Prerequisite: BVOT 532, BVOT 541.

Offered on a Rotation:

The Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, is the subject of study (English text). The contents and theology of the Torah are the primary concern of this course. Literary forms and themes are discussed. The historical background and theories of composition are explored. Classroom time involves lectures, discussion and student presentations.

This course pays major attention to the prophetic movement in Israel/Judah. Its focus is especially on the Former Prophets Minor Prophets, such as Hosea, Amos, Micah and Zechariah (English text). Literary and historical concerns surface along with theological ones.

Students explore the book of Genesis, focusing on the theology of the book, the theological resources it offers and the questions it raises in Christian contexts. Historical, literary, canonical, and socio-cultural approaches inform theological reflection. Classroom time involves lectures and seminar-style discussion on required readings, and student coursework culminates in a substantial final paper or project.

This class focuses on the book of Psalms and/or Wisdom Literature, especially Job, Psalms and Ecclesiastes (English text). Lectures and inductive study examine the biblical words, literary forms and ideas. Readings and written reactions sample the accumulated scholarship developed around the biblical books. Discussion and creative writing look for ways to connect with the joy, praise, frustration, contemplation and hope from an ancient and foreign culture in order to enrich modern worship.

Offered on a Rotation:

The book named for this prophet is studied for its themes, content and theology (English text). The study of the literary features of the book and its historical context(s) serve to sharpen the message and contribution of the prophet. Inductive study supplements and evaluates the mass of scholarship that has grown up around the study of this prophet.

New Testament (BVNT)

This course is a basic introduction to the study of the New Testament. It focuses on the historical/social/cultural/theological worlds of the New Testament Scriptures in order to discover the context out of which the Scriptures have grown and the communities to which they are addressed. The course works at these questions by means of inductive exercises which introduce a variety of methodological approaches: historical, sociological, redactional, literary. Attention likewise is given (1) to the concepts of canon and inspiration and (2) to the range of contemporary settings within which the biblical text is read and understood.

This course is a basic introduction to the language of the Greek New Testament. The course focuses on the basic grammar necessary for reading/translating the Greek New Testament as well as for doing more advanced Greek studies. Through classroom study, written exercises, quizzes and readings in the Gospel of John, students develop ability in discovering the form and function of words/phrases, build a basic vocabulary and discover the value of language study for biblical interpretation.

This course builds on the foundation laid in Elementary Greek in order to strengthen essential skills for exegesis of the Greek New Testament. Course objectives are: (1) to increase students’ recognition of the vocabulary of the Greek New Testament; (2) to give students practice in analyzing Greek syntax and using such analysis for NT exegesis; (3) to introduce the principles and methods of textual criticism; and (4) to familiarize students with the basic tools for NT exegesis. The course works at these objectives through the reading, syntactical analysis and translation of a range of NT texts. Prerequisite: BVNT 531.

Offered as needed:

This course focuses on the exegesis of a selected writing from the Greek New Testament. Emphasis is placed on such matters as vocabulary, grammar and syntax, textual criticism, historical/ social/cultural background, literary genre/context/structure in the interests of uncovering the specific message of any given text as well as its wider theological significance. The format of the course is that of a seminar and includes such activities as readings, class discussions, exegetical exercises and the presentation and critique of exegesis papers. Prerequisites: BVNT 531, BVNT 542.

Offered in a Rotation:

This course is an inductive study of the English text of the Gospel of Matthew. Working “from the inside out,” the course starts with the study of the Matthean text and ends with the consideration of “critical questions” (authorship, purpose, original readership, historical/social/cultural context). Special attention is given to the question of synoptic relationships and the “history vs. theology” question. The course places primary emphasis on the final literary form of the Gospel and on the specifically Matthean “story of Jesus” recounted there. Methods of study include both sequential and thematic approaches to the text.

This course focuses on the Gospel of Luke and/or the Book of Acts (English text). Beginning with inductive study of the Lukan text(s), the course concludes with consideration of “critical questions” (authorship, purpose, original readership, historical/social/cultural context). Special attention is given to the question of synoptic relationships (Luke) and the “history vs. theology” question (Luke/Acts). Primary emphasis lies on the final literary form of Luke/Acts and the characteristically Lukan “story of Jesus and the early church” recounted in these writings. The course approaches the text in both sequential and thematic fashion.

The focus of this course is the English text of the Gospel of John. From an inductive study of the Johannine text the course progresses to the consideration of “critical questions” (authorship, purpose, original readership, the “history vs. theology” question). Special attention is given to the relationship between the Gospel of John and the Synoptic Gospels. The course works with the final literary form of the Gospel and highlights the uniquely Johannine “story of Jesus.” The course offers both sequential and thematic approaches to the text.

Offered in a Rotation:

This course focuses on the inductive study of the Epistle to the Romans (English text). The course highlights the theological message of the epistle and the relevance of this message for the present-day church. Significant attention is likewise given to the historical/social/cultural/theological world of the Roman church and to the specific circumstances which occasion the epistle. The course works with the epistle in both sequential and thematic fashion.

This course offers an inductive study of the Corinthian Epistles (English text). The course places emphasis on the interconnections between the theological message of the epistles, the historical/social/cultural/ theological world of the Corinthian church and the specific circumstances which gave rise to these epistles. Consideration is given throughout to the relevance of these writings for the present day church. Methods of study include both sequential and thematic approaches to the epistles.

This course focuses on the inductive study of the major “apocalyptic” writings of the books of Daniel and Revelation (English text). The course explores (1) the historical context in which biblical apocalyptic takes root, (2) the literary forms associated with apocalyptic writing, (3) the theological message of biblical apocalyptic and (4) the relevance of this message for the present-day church.

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