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A Succinct Introduction to NT Methods

November 29, 2007

200px-kellsfol027v4evang.jpgIn preparation for teaching a first-year survey of the New Testament, I’ve been looking at books and articles to require my students to read. Dwight Peterson over at Eastern University turned me on to the little book: Four Gospels, One Jesus: A Symbolic Reading by Richard Burridge. The book uses the traditional iconography of the gospels as a tool for teaching the distinctive features of each text.

While I would prefer that my students be guided inductively to the distinctive features in the four gospels, I have to say that he introduction that Burridge gives is wonderful. He goes over all the major critical methods and shows their importance for understanding the gospels. And he does it in thirty-two, easy-to-read pages.

So, my students will definitely be reading his introduction. It will allow me to spend more class time actually reading the gospels to get an understanding of what makes each unique — a process that is much more interesting than lecturing on the joys of redaction criticism as a disembodied concept.

  1. November 29, 2007 6:03 pm

    I would second your choice of this book. Fortunately the introductory course I do allows me to require the studenst to read each respective gospel at one sitting (or maybe two) with a set of questions to write their responses to, and then to follow-up by reading the relevant chapter of Buridge after class discussion.

  2. November 29, 2007 8:22 pm

    Hey, thanks for the heads-up on the book! I’m scheduled to teach an “Intro to the Bible” course next school year, and I think this book would be an excellent resource.

    BTW, if you have time, you might want to check out my site. I’m hosting some agnostics and atheists over there :). Only if you have time, of course.

    God bless you.

  3. jimgetz permalink*
    November 30, 2007 9:33 am

    Doug, it’s not that I’m not taking the time with each gospel. AMAOF I’ll be spending roughly a week on each. Rather, I want them to find the conclusions on their own. Give them a book, they won’t read the text; and I want them to read the text and find the answers on their own. I’m glad to know that others are using and finding success with the text — it makes me think that this class might just work.

    Melcartera, I hope the book is helpful to you. Are you teaching high school, undergrad, grad or laity?

  4. November 30, 2007 9:54 am

    Hi, Jim.

    It will be graduate level, one of the required courses for an MDiv. It will be at an interdenominational seminary, which I much prefer, actually. I love the encounter of ideas coming from different traditions, and I love seeing new students with that look in their eyes saying: “Really? I didn’t know you could look at it that way!”

    However, my own denomination, Christian Reformed, plans to put up its own school in the Philippines, and they are asking me to also teach. But this one’s not yet aimed to teach graduate level students, rather denomination members who want to be lay ministers and Bible study leaders. They also want me to teach “Intro to the Bible” and “Exegesis” at this school.

    I think Burridge’s book could be useful for both audiences. Do you think that’s OK?

  5. December 10, 2007 12:01 am

    Hi Jim,
    If you’re interested in an inductive approach to the Gospels, you might be interested in Michael Cosby’s Portraits of Jesus. I worked through it as an undergrad (Cosby was my undergrad advisor) and thought it was good. It’s a “Search Inside” book on Amazon. Cosby actually had us turn in our books at the end of the semester, with our answers to the questions filled out inside.

  6. jimgetz permalink*
    December 10, 2007 11:37 am

    Interesting book. If I was teaching the gospels I might consider it, but I’m teaching the whole NT. I might pick it up for help in constructing lesson plans, but I’m pretty committed at this point to giving the students bits and pieces of secondary lit while requiring them to read and read again the NT.

    Does/did Cosby teach at Messiah?

  7. December 11, 2007 12:57 am

    “Does/did Cosby teach at Messiah?”

    Yep. He’s a distinguished prof of NT at the moment.

    He does include some secondary lit in there for comparison, but probably not as much as you’d like to do.

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