Fall 2008 Classes

Well, Mandy has posted her classes for this semester, I guess that means it’s my turn. So, here are my Fall 2008 classes at Gordon-Conwell (and Harvard), along with some thoughts that I have going in to each of them.

Interpreting the New Testament, S. McDonough – This is actually a requirement for my degree. Often times degree requirements at a seminary can seem like a waste of time. However, I’m rather looking forward to this class. It’s basically a hermeneutics/intro to criticism/intro to exegesis course for New Testament studies. At least a class that includes N.T. Wright and Vanhoozer can’t be all bad. I know N.T. Wright is worth reading, and I’ve heard good things about Vanhoozer.

Ugaritic, M. Kline – What could possibly be better than learning a new semitic language? I’m sure I don’t know. The texts for the course are Schniedewind’s primer and Sivan’s grammar. I haven’t been too impressed as I’ve flipped through Sivan, but Schniedewind looks like a really excellent introduction to Ugaritic. I’m quite excited about this class.

Independent Reading in the Hebrew Bible, T. Petter – This is a directed study that I’m doing with Dr. Petter. He and I discussed my desire for a challenging Hebrew language course over the summer. As a result, I’m reading (translating) all of Qohelet, in addition to Proverbs 1-9 and the first cycle in Job (3-14). There’ll be a mid-term and a final. I also have just shy of 1000 pages of reading to do (in English) on Hebrew poetry. I’m really looking forward to sinking my teeth into these books and reading them in Hebrew. It should be a blast.

Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible: Seminar, R. Saley (Harvard) – By far this is the class I’m most looking forward to. It starts a week later than my GCTS classes, so I have a while yet to continue my anxious anticipation. Textual Criticism is one area in which I’m interested and would like to experiment. This class should, hopefully, provide plenty of opportunity for learning the ropes.

So, all the GCTS classes start the week of the 7th, while Harvard doesn’t start until the week of the 14th. Here’s to an exciting semester!

The end of another semester

This semester is quickly coming to a close. It’s always amazing to me, as I sit at the end of a semester, that another three(ish) months have rushed by. I will be honest, this semester was much easier than last semester. I still have a Semlink course to finish up, but that is pretty much some reading, finishing the lecture mp3s, and then writing two short papers. For my actual resident courses I’m finished aside from finals and a few articles that I still need to read for Theology of the Pentateuch. Some of my reflections from this semester follow:

Greek II – I’m amazed at how fun Greek has been this year. Greek I was excellent, and Greek II was equally so. I’m feeling very confident in my knowledge of the language. I realize I’m only at a very basic level, but I think I have the basics down well. I’m actually really looking forward to taking Intermediate Greek in a summer module.

Theology of the Pentateuch – This class has been beyond disappointing. The reading has been next to worthless. The class sessions themselves have been more about systematic theology and proof texting (and not even limiting the proof-texts to the Pentateuch!) then about anything else. I don’t want to descend into complaining. I’ll simply say that the class is not what I had hoped for or expected. I’m still trying to figure out how what I’ve received fits with the course name or description.

Aramaic – Many will remember that this class had me panicking at the beginning of the semester. Not so anymore. I have very much enjoyed the second half of the semester. The primary reason for this is that I haven’t had to worry about memorizing paradigms during the second half of the semester. Dr. Stuart has required that we translate all every word of Aramaic in the Bible, and now we’re working on a targum of Genesis 1 (with Babylonian pointings!) and an unpointed text from Elephantine. I’m actually enjoying the course immensely now. Not as much as Hebrew, or even as much as Greek, but quite a bit nonetheless.

As for the future, I’m still working out what next semester is going to look like, but I do know that I’m taking Intermediate Greek this summer, as I mentioned above. I’ll actually have another post with a few questions related to that sometime this weekend.


Anyone who has been this blog for a year or longer knows well that I used to dislike Greek. You can read about my strong feelings for the language here. I believe the phrase used those many months ago was “the bane of my existence.” How times have changed.

Within a few short weeks after the post linked above, I was already feeling much better about Greek. Like I had a real handle on it. Doing a simple search for “Greek” on my blog will reveal that this feeling has continued and escalated. In fact, at this point I’d go as far as to say that I love Greek. This is thanks, in no small part, to my TA. I’ll take a small amount of credit because I’ve worked my butt off studying, memorizing vocab and paradigms, translating, etc. I actually get how the verb system works now. Interestingly enough, Jim was right.

As I look back, I realize that I knew Greek before, though I needed to refresh things, but I never felt like I knew it. I wasn’t confident with it. Now I feel confident with it. We’re currently in participles, and although the perfect participle is still giving me some headaches regarding exactly how to translate it with any semblance of aspect intact, it’s not depressingly frustrating. I’m actually planning on registering for Intermediate Greek in Summer I. It’ll be the first summer course I’ve ever taken. But I’d really like to continue studying Greek. This may come as a surprise to some of you, who know I’m into the Hebrew Bible. But let’s think for a moment, there’s the LXX for starters. In addition, Wisdom of Solomon was penned in Greek, and my interests run towards the Wisdom Literature. Leaving aside the fact that I do, in fact, read the New Testament. I’m just having a great time learning languages: Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, next year Ugaritic, if I can pull a high enough grade in Aramaic I might take Syriac, there are also BTI courses: Rapid Hebrew Reading, Coptic(!), and various seminars.


Mandy and I are finally through midterms, as she has already mentioned.

Overall, I’m not too displeased. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked on my Theology of the Pentateuch midterm. It is only 20% of the final grade though. The final is 70%, so I should still be able to manage an A or A- in the course. The final will consist of three essay questions and I tend to do better with essay questions than with multiple choice, which is the sole type of question that was on the midterm.

I, like Mandy, feel much more confident about the midterm in Aramaic than I thought I would. Eric‘s advice paid off, and I know I nailed the vocab and paradigms. I also know I did decent on translation and parsing, though I made a few mistakes (stupid Afel imperative). I’m anxious to get back the midterm and see exactly how well I did. Again, the final is worth a larger chunk of the pie, so if I didn’t do as well as I hope I can study hard and pull things up a bit with the final, which will lack any paradigms and consist of translation from Ezra, Daniel, and the Targum and Papyri we’ll be translating later in the semester.

So, midterms are finished, and I’m happy for that. I have my second Greek exam next Wednesday, so this weekend will be devoted to studying for that, in addition to making a serious dent in my semlink course work.