This class seeks to increase their understanding through study of a wide range of topics relevant to Christian scholarship and life applications in the modern world.
Teachers in this class are Jim Jorden, Stan Smith, Linda Wilson, and Malcolm McQueen/Johnny White (alternating).
This group of seekers structures themselves around the “class” concept:
A Christian Education “class” is a group of people who meet together for an extended period of time to study a series of topics. A class is a group of people with and for whom one feels an affinity and affection. A class is a group of people with whom one enjoys sharing time and study. A class is a group of people who miss you when you’re gone and welcome you back when you return.
Moreover, the class follows a study + service + fellowship model. Through these three modes of Christian worship and work the class develops cohesiveness as a group of people with and for whom any member feels an affinity and affection.
The study format followed in this class is structured discussion of material presented by expert professors – mainly video or audio lecturers for The Teaching Company. The facilitators’ main role is to establish a baseline of information (as presented in the video or audio lessons) and to guide the class as it explores the discussion questions and comments posed at each class meeting.
For its service project, the class assists St. Frederick Baptist Church in Marble Falls with assembly and delivery of “meals-on-wheels” to those in need, on the fifth Saturdays of the year.
The class is now in a pattern of having two fellowship activities each year:
- Participation in the annual all-Church-School picnic held during the Spring.
- A Christmas social gathering.
Mary Alice Dunn and Beryl Ann Owen serve as coordinators for these social functions. Jim Jorden handles administrative matters for this class.
Seekers Class New Course of Study:
“Reading Biblical Literature: Genesis to Revelation”
The diversity of material in biblical books like Exodus, Isaiah, Psalms, Mark, and Revelation that has prompted people throughout history (from religious scholars to celebrated artists to everyday worshippers) to ponder and debate the meaning of these classic texts. To truly understand and appreciate the Bible’s many perspectives on faith, war, suffering, love, memory, community, and other enduring themes, it is enlightening to use a literary approach to reading and thinking about these separate books.
- What do you learn when you consider biblical books with a focus on their settings, narrative structures, characterizations, images, and themes?
- How do various biblical books offer quite different responses to events and issues, challenging readers to think of them in bold new ways?
- How does this respectful perspective help us better understand the early history of Judaism and Christianity, as well as the roots of religious belief?
Enjoy an intellectual adventure like no other in Reading Biblical Literature, which offers a comprehensive, book-by-book analysis of the Bible from the fascinating perspective of literature and narrative. Delivered by religion scholar and acclaimed professor Craig R. Koester of Luther Seminary, these 36 lectures guide you through ancient stories, empowering you to engage with the books of the Bible as richly meaningful texts. From the stories of figures like Moses and King David to the gospel accounts of Jesus and the formation of the earliest Christian communities, this course offers an unforgettably vivid sense of the Bible as a tale filled with complex characters, dramatic conflicts, universal themes, inspirational wisdom, hidden meanings, revolutionary crises, and powerful life lessons. No wonder it’s considered the greatest story ever told.
Begin “In the Beginning…”
Composed over the span of 10 centuries, the books of the Bible are today divided into those of the Old Testament (known to some as the Jewish Bible) and the New Testament (the cornerstone of the Christian faith). But there’s no need to be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the Bible.Reading Biblical Literature lets you encounter these books in a manner that’s accessible and engaging.
Professor Koester begins these lectures at the only appropriate place: with the creation of the universe as recounted in the book of Genesis. From there, you’ll plunge into Old Testament plotlines dealing with migration and exile, slavery and deliverance, anticipation and disappointment, conflict and reconciliation. It’s the story of the formation of the people of Israel, and along the way you’ll reconsider your ideas about a variety of biblical figures, moments, and ideas ranging from the familiar to the often overlooked.
- One tower, many stories: At surprising moments in Genesis, God comes to regret ever creating humankind. One instance of this is the famous story of the construction of the tower of Babel. As you’ll investigate, it can be read in different ways: as a sort of folk tale, a critique of ancient society, and a commentary on humanity’s refusal to live within limits. The multiple levels of possible meaning create a more deeply significant story.
- Abraham’s funny fallibility: One aspect that is often overlooked in reading Abraham’s life story is the inherent humor in it. There are certainly points where Abraham is portrayed as faithful and courageous, but he also appears as someone who can be woefully short-sighted, whose actions create as many problems as they solve. And yet this familiar trait makes the biblical patriarch all the more engaging, and all the more human.
- King Saul vs. King Macbeth: The rise and fall of Israel’s first king, Saul, is a tale of ambition and arrogance similar to that of the medieval king Macbeth in Shakespeare’s eponymous play. There are machinations and prophecies of doom, political paranoia and the drive for power, and even a witch. Ultimately, in both worlds, people must deal with the consequences of their actions—and the will of God.
- Words of wisdom: The Old Testament is packed with writings that form the core of the Bible’s wisdom literature, collected in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. The first book offers advice on how to lead a prosperous and meaningful life, the second is an unsettling and thought-provoking reflection on the emptiness of success, and the third challenges the idea that life is fair and suffering is meted out by God in proportion to wrongdoing. Each of these books, you’ll learn, is in conversation with one another on many levels.
Explore the “New” World of the New Testament
Whereas the Old Testament focused on Israel’s ancestors, kings, and prophets from the second and first millennia BC, the New Testament takes as its predominant focus the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth—as well as his followers and the dawn of the earliest Christian communities in the first centuries AD.
Reading Biblical Literature takes you deep inside this revolutionary moment in human history as it is recounted in the Bible’s pages. Throughout, Professor Koester focuses on enduring themes of suffering, service, death, hope, and rebirth. How does the narrative of Jesus and his follows expand upon, or respond to, similar themes established in the Old Testament? This key question leads you to revisit (or visit for the first time) iconic moments in the Bible in the company of a master scholar.
- One life, four gospels: The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are each devoted to recounting the story of Jesus and his relationship to the God of Israel. Yet each book tells the story in a unique way, and the differences offer an intriguing range of perspectives on who Jesus was. From their accounts of Jesus’s teachings to the drama of his crucifixion and resurrection, each gospel follows a distinctive plotline. Through scenes of conflict and redemption, readers are taken more deeply into the question of Jesus’s identity and impact on those who followed him.
- Apostolic Acts: One book you spend time with in this course is the Acts of the Apostles, which tells the story of the first followers of Jesus and the establishment of the early church. Written by the same person who wrote the gospel of Luke, this book narrates the struggle that early Christians faced as they tried to come to grips with their role in larger Jewish, Greek, and Roman society.
- Pauline correspondence: Paul is considered to be one of the most controversial figures in the New Testament, if not the entire Bible. Professor Koester devotes several lectures to unpacking his letters to Christians in the ancient world, including 1 and 2 Corinthians. One theme in these letters is that of divine love. If love is shown by giving, writes Paul, then Jesus’s crucifixion shows God performing the utmost act of self-giving.
- The end of days: Revelation, the last book of the Bible, uses the stirring visions of conflict and hope as a commentary on the nature of good and evil. Here, God is portrayed as a creator and Satan as a destroyer, a contrast that is essential for the writer’s understanding of evil. The writer of Revelation assumes that God created the world to be good. Therefore, evil is an invading cancer that must be defeated in order to bring new life to the world.
See link below:
Reading Biblical Literature: Genesis to Revelation
April 9 “Mark on the Crucifixion and Resurrection”, Led by Russell YorkApril 2 “Jesus as Messiah in Mark”, Led by Stan Smith
April 16 No Class-Easter
April 23 “The Dynamics of Forgiveness in Matthew”, Led by Linda Wilson
April 30 “Luke on a World Upside Down”, Led by Jim Jorden
May 7 “John on the World Made Flesh”, Led by Russell York
May 14 “Self-Giving Love According to John”, Led by Stan Smith
May 21 “The Early Church in Acts”, Led by Linda Wilson
May 28 “Paul’s Calling”, Led by Jim Jorden