New Classes and Why I Love My Job

I love my jobExcited about a few courses I’ve designed being added to the catalog (Lord willing):
BIBL 336 The Former Prophets (Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings) – 3 credits
Students will analyze the accounts of Israel’s story as recorded in the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings, and an evaluation of various attempts to harmonize that story with other historical evidence.  Literary, textual and theological issues as well as an examination of archaeological evidence, social institutions, and ideology will provide the data for discussing the ideas contained in the Former Prophets and their role as scripture for the Church. Prerequisites: BIBL 151 and BIBL 253
BIBL 437 Apocalyptic Literature and the Revelation – 2 credits
Students will analyze apocalyptic texts of the second Temple period with particular emphasis given to the historical, literary and theological elements of the Revelation and its role as scripture for the Church. Prerequisites: BIBL 151 and BIBL 253
BIBL 337 Daniel and Ezekiel – 2 credits
Students will analyze the historical, literary and theological elements of the books of Daniel and Ezekiel and their role as scripture for the Church. Prerequisites: BIBL 151 and BIBL 253
LANG 437 Biblical Hebrew 2a – 3 credits
This course provides intermediate grammatical study, vocabulary building and discourse analysis of Biblical Hebrew narrative. Students build their vocabulary and translate selected portions of the Hebrew Old Testament with particular attention to the book of Ruth. Prerequisites: LANG 435, LANG 436
LANG 438 Biblical Hebrew 2b – 3 credits
The genre of Hebrew Poetry will be explored, focusing on selections from the Psalms, the prophets, and wisdom literature. Students will develop recognition of the characteristics of this genre, with the outcome of becoming better readers of Hebrew Poetry. Students will develop skills to exegete, preach, and teach the portions of the Old Testament which are poetic. Prerequisites: LANG 437
As if I didn’t love studying the Hebrew Bible enough, I must say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed teaching Biblical Hebrew (1a & 1b) last year and being halfway through 2a this semester. I look forward to teaching Biblical Hebrew 2b (who doesn’t love Biblical Hebrew poetry???), Apocalyptic Literature and the Revelation (a topic I have taught numerous times as a pastor), as well as The Former Prophets (my actual specialization) next semester.
The beauty of teaching these courses lays in the fact that most students find this material fresh. Even those who previously thought they understood these books and topics, suddenly encounter the excitement of the new and enter the adventure of engaging Scriptures in ways they had not previously imagined. All I know is #ilovemyjob

Elisha and the Double Portion Spirit

ElishaFor those interested in the topic, I have just uploaded the paper I presented at the 2014 SBL/AAR annual meeting in San Diego, CA as a special session of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. The title is “Elisha and the Double Portion Spirit: Sign of the True Son of the Prophet (2 Kgs 2-9, 13)”. It is a small portion of my exegetical work I am doing for my PhD on “A Theology of the Spirit in the Former Prophets”.
Here is the summary:

While it is assumed among scholarship that the “double portion” which Elisha requests of Elijah refers to the portion of the eldest son (following Deuteronomistic law), it is proposed in this paper that this is theologically significant to demonstrate Elisha as the true son of Elijah as prophet of Yahweh in contrast to the other “sons of the prophets” in the Former Prophets. This motif is followed in the stories of Elisha as he fulfills the prophetic call earlier given to Elijah as Horeb, knows and does what the “sons of the prophets” cannot do themselves, and functions as a new Elijah in the paneling accounts and images. The role of Spirit endowment as verification of elder sonship is followed as a theological trajectory of the Former Prophets.

Advice from Miles Van Pelt

There was a helpful little video and blog post recently on Koinoniablog.net where Miles Van Pelt (author of Basics of Biblical Aramaic and co-author of Basics of Biblical Hebrew) offers several bits of advice to language learning. He reminds students they must be intentionally regular in working on the languages. He says, “The way I have found most effective in my own life is to get up early and do it before everyone else starts to want your time, your schedule, and your attention” (and the other bit can be read and watched HERE).
Great advice to students, professors and anyone else working on learning languages. I would add that, while he may be disciplined sufficiently to rise early every day to work on it many of us are not that disciplined. However, this can be compensated for by simply finding natural ways of integrating language learning into the ebbs and flow of your day-to-day schedule.
For instance, when looking up a passage why not also look up the original as well as the English. Try sight translation and see how you do. This is a very simple practice that can result in significant language gains.
Another idea is to bring along your Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek Bible to church, Sunday school or a Bible study. You can also have an English Bible open for reading along, but just try following along as much as possible with the Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek.
Just a couple of simple tips to increase time spent reading the original languages that does not require much effort or extra work (not least, waking up early to do it…yuck!). So what advice might you give?