The classes I took this semester brought me into contact with some wonderful objects of study. Looking back on this time quickly brings new gratitude to my heart. Below is some info about each course:
Intro to New Testament I with Dr. Jonathan Pennington: Having heard high praise for this class from countless friends, I came into it with high expectations. Also, because Intro to NT I covers the four Gospels I had increased desires to have a profitable experience. To my joy, everything about my expectations and desires were realized. Dr. Pennington was a pleasure to listen to as he really re-arranged my understanding of the Gospels and helped fill in some strawy issues when it comes to interpreting narratives. His lectures were often painfully yet sweetly subversive, as it should be for any study of the Lord Jesus and his life and ministry.
Books: Who Chose the Gospels? by Charles Hill (I really appreciated this book as it scours the evidence from the Church Fathers seeking to establish that the four Gospels were not conjured up late in the church’s history but were a reality by the end of the first century.); Reading the Gospels Wisely? by Jonathan Pennington (This book basically is the Intro to NT I course material in book form, though with a quite a bit more detail. I highly recommend this book for thinking through issues of the historicity of the Gospels, epistemology and biblical interpretation, the purpose of the Gospels, and how to actually interpret them.)
Elementary Greek with Joshua Greever: This class introduced me to the Greek grammar of the New Testament. To my relief I have found that Greek is not as hard as Hebrew. The vocabulary is not as varied and the grammatical concepts are not as foreign. There does, however, seem to be a million different prepositions in Greek, so that aspect has been a bit boggling for my brain. Josh Greever was the instructor, and he did an excellent job as a first time Greek teacher. Josh is Ph.D candidate in NT at Southern.
Intro to Old Testament II with Dr. Jim Hamilton: After completing OT I, NT I, and NT II, this course completed the biblical “survey” courses part of my curriculum. The scriptural content worked through over the semester was from the book of Job through the prophet Malachi. In other words, we studied the last half of the OT. I really appreciate Dr. Hamilton’s approach to his lectures. His emphasis is on explicating as much of the biblical text as possible. In other words, he leaves out most of the scholarly back and forth over things like authorship and instead leaves it to the survey textbook to help us wade through those debates. The questions biblical criticism asks certainly are important, but what a waste to think so much on those issues and never get to the text itself! Dr. Hamilton’s fiery lecturing (/preaching) made class all the more thrilling (After the first lecture of the semester, which was on Isaiah, I overheard a student comment, “Man, that dude came out in beast mode.”), and his insight and applications during the wisdom literature lectures (Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, etc.) especially stand out.
Books: How to Read the Psalms by Tremper Longman (This brief and helpful book provided some basic and digest-able guidance regarding how to read God’s songbook: the Psalms. I especially appreciated Longman’s emphasis on the need to read the Psalms for the sake of communion with God and conformity to Christ.)
Systematic Theology I with Dr. Steve Wellum: A few years ago when I thought of Southern seminary and theology, I would have immediately thought of Bruce Ware. I had never even heard of Dr. Wellum when I first enrolled here. That changed quickly, as I heard many students speak of how sincerely they admired Dr. Wellum and his teaching. So much did I here this talk that I decided I must take a class from him myself. Thankfully, I was able to get into his ST I class. This class’ subject matter was one I long had anticipated diving into (God and his word). I utilized the class’ major assignment of writing a position paper to research and write on the truthfulness of Scripture, and it was the most profitable study on any single topic that I have ever done.
Books: The Doctrine of the Word of God by John Frame (This book made John Frame one of my favorite theologians. It is really difficult to describe how much I appreciated the content and the spirit of this book. It was refreshing to read a theological tome that had brief chapters and a personable writing style. Frame’s personal-word model for understanding Scripture’s doctrine of Scripture is wonderfully compelling.)