My Greek New Testament Course

For the first time in forever I am teaching a new course — one I’ve never taught before — at UNC, a class for classics students (and others who already know Greek) on the Greek New Testament.   It is obviously a very small class (6 or 7 students); to be in it students have to have already had at least a couple of years of Greek.   So the class is not teaching the rudiments of Greek grammar, but it assuming ...

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My Graduate Level New Testament Course

Classes have started again and we are bursting into the term with vim and vigor!   For my graduate course this term I am teaching my “Problems and Methods in New Testament Studies” seminar (I offer this ever two or three years).  This is a kind of “Introduction” to the field of New Testament studies geared not for undergraduates but for graduates, all of whom have undergraduate degrees already and who (at least this semester) have already done some work ...

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Spilling the Beans on my Beliefs on the Last Day of Class

About fifteen years ago or so I started doing something completely different on my last day of class in my New Testament course.  I have a lecture scheduled for then, of course, but the scheduled lecture rehashes material that is earlier covered in the class and that students can pick up easily from their reading – so it’s not one of the crucial class periods of the semester.  Sometimes that last class is not even that (depending on how the ...

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Can Teaching Be Objective?

I have been discussing how I see the separation of church and state when it comes to teaching religious studies in a secular research university.  All of this has been a lead up to what I do on my final day of class in my course, Introduction to the New Testament.   On that last day, if students want, I tell them what I actually believe and why.

I feel constantly torn between two different perspectives on teaching, which I call the ...

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My Recitation Debates

Before I talk about the debate I had with myself in front of my class this week, on the topic Resolved: The New Testament Book of Acts is Historically Reliable, I need to do some considerable stage-setting.  First, in this post, let me explain how the class is set up (including the debates the students themselves do), to make sense of what I was trying to accomplish in my staged split-personality (affirmative and negative).

So the class is an Introduction to ...

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The Value (or Not) of Debates

As most readers of the blog know, I do a good number of public debates, almost always (I’m trying to think if there is an exception!) with conservative evangelical Christians or fundamentalists who think that my views are dangerous to the good Christians of their communities and to all those non-Christians they very much want to convert.   My view all along has been that my historical views are not a threat to Christian faith, but only to a particular (and ...

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My Final Exam for NT

So, classes are officially over here at UNC, and we are in the Final Exam period.  Today I gave my final for the Introduction to the New Testament class.   As some of you may recall, back in January 2014 I posted on the blog the pop quiz I give the first day of class for this course.  It is here, in case you’re interested:  https://ehrmanblog.org/new-testament-pop-quiz/   When I give this quiz on the first day, I tell the students ...

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Where Do You Start an Introduction to the NT?

One of the hardest parts of writing an Introduction to the New Testament is figuring out where to begin.   If someone were writing a literary introduction, or even a theological one, it might make best sense to begin at the beginning, with the Gospel of Matthew, and then continue through the New Testament all the way to the book of Revelation.  But what if one is writing an Introduction from a *historical* perspective?   Matthew wasn’t the first Gospel to be ...

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Getting Started on My NT Introduction

So far I have been talking about how I conceived of my textbook when I first started working on it in the mid 1990s, stressing in particular that I wanted to approach the task from a rigorously historical perspective.   I should say again, I really was not sure that anyone would be interested in a textbook like that.  The only think comparable that I knew about at the time was a textbook by Joseph Tyson, a fine scholar at SMU, ...

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On Boring Textbooks

There is one other general principle that I tried to follow when writing my NT textbook in the 1990s.  In my experience, most textbooks – not just in biblical studies, but in all fields – suffer from one ubiquitous problem.   They are BORING.   A guiding principle for me was to try my best to keep from boring readers to death.

I’ve always been amazed over the years how otherwise intelligent human beings can take really fascinating material and make it dull, ...

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