Dissertation/Thesis Submitted!

Well, it's done. I don't want to look at it, or even think about it, until a few weeks before I defend it in late July. As of today my dissertation/thesis has been submitted to the University of Bristol via Trinity College Bristol. If I look at it again I'll find something else that's wrong that I want to correct, but as they say: 'Perfect is the enemy of the good.' So away with thee! 

The title? Jesus the Baptizer: The Reception and Interpretation of the Baptist-Prophecy in the Synoptic Gospels and the Book of Acts

Reflections on Teaching the Bible to High Schoolers, Pt. 1: Out with the Textbook, In with Bible Odyssey

Yesterday I completed my first semester as Religious Studies Instructor at TMI-The Episcopal School of Texas. While each day and each week was a series of trial-and-error approaches to pedagogy, I believe that overall it was a successful first half of my rookie season. One of the experiments I enacted was to avoid using a single textbook, instead supplementing the primary source readings with articles from Bible Odyssey.

If you don't know what Bible Odyssey is, it is a collection of introductory articles on a wide-array of topics related to the study of biblical literature. Most of the articles are short. If you print them, they'd fit on a single page. This seemed to me to be perfect in the era of Snapchat. Also, it allowed me to avoid the scenario where my students finish the semester having heard a single scholarly voice. By using these articles and videos they were introduced to names ranging from Bart D. Ehrman to Steve Mason to Lynn Cohick to Helen K. Bond, et al. 

The only downside would be that a single textbook allows the students to be guided by an author who is trying to provide an overarching presentation of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible or the New Testament. I'm not positive that all my students were able to deduce why I chose what articles I did when I did. But I think that is something I can work harder at communicating.

I do not teach Old Testament again until next August, so I have several months to reflect on what went right and what went wrong in using Bible Odyssey. If I were teaching Old Testament again in January I would definitely use Bible Odyssey again. I do teach New Testament again and yes, I will go another semester using Bible Odyssey rather than a textbook.

In summary:
Positives:
- Brief articles which do not overwhelm and work with the adolescent attention span
- Introductory nature allows novices to dip their toes into the shallow end of biblical studies
- Diverse voices are represented
- Finally, homework could be used to reinforce the themes of certain central articles

Negatives:
- The brevity may reinforce the lack of discipline that the internet age is shaping in all of us
- The lack of a singular author (of small group of authors) does not provide the student with an overarching message concerning ancient Israel, the emergence of the Jewish people, incipient Christianity, the shaping of the New Testament, etc.

 

End of the conference + trip to London

The Trinity College Bristol postgraduate conference concluded yesterday with a couple papers, a faculty panel, and a dinner. Today we went to London. In the London Library we had a chance to view Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus, the Golden Haggadah, the Magna Carta, and writings from people ranging from Jane Austen to Charles Dickens, to The Beatles! We viewed St. Paul's Cathedral, Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abby from the outside. Tomorrow morning we will worship at Bristol Cathedral, established c. 1140 CE.

If you're connected to me on Facebook, I shared some pictures there.

New Job: Religious Studies Teacher at TMI-The Episcopal School of Texas

Today I received my salary agreement in the mail, so I guess now is as good a time as any to announce that I will be joining TMI-The Episcopal School of Texas as the new Religious Studies Teacher for the 2016-2017 academic year. My responsibilities include teaching Hebrew Bible, New Testament, comparative religion, introduction to philosophy, and an elective. I am thrilled by this opportunity, one that seemingly appeared out of the blue. 

I have added a new page to this website where I will be including resources for the classes I'll be teaching. Feel free to recommend anything you think would be fitting!