Teaching graduate students in the field of Ancient Mediterranean Religions – even if one’s subfield is the New Testament and early Christianity – can be very different from teaching the same field in a divinity school, as I began to indicate last time. At least it is very different from the field as it was taught at Princeton Theological Seminary, where I went. New Testament faculty there principally taught courses on exegesis – that is the interpretation of Scripture. These courses did have a strong historical component to them. But the only real concerns were the books of the New Testament, their interpretation, and the history that they both presuppose and illuminate.
At UNC, I have never taught an exegesis course. Now it’s true, my students in New Testament (most of them actually are working outside the New Testament, as I’ll explain in a moment) do need to learn the science and art of exegesis. But there’s only one of me, and I can teach only one seminar a semester, and I don’t have time to do exegetical courses. When my students need to study that approach to the New Testament, they take seminars at Duke Divinity School, which (run jointly with the Department of Religious Studies in the college at Duke), has one of the best graduate programs (along with ours!) in the country. Their professors – some of them good friends of mine – do teach semester-long courses on, say, the letter to the Romans or the Passion narratives in the Gospels or the Gospel of Matthew, etc. So my students can learn exegesis there, as part of their training.
But as I was saying, most of my students…
THE REST OF THIS POST IS FOR MEMBERS ONLY. If you don’t belong yet, GET WITH IT!!!