Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

12/6 2018

Inside the PTS Curriculum: Violence in the Bible

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The “Inside the PTS Curriculum” series gives you an inside look at what students are learning in their courses at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Each article focuses on one class, its subject matter, what students can expect to learn, the required texts, and the kinds of assignments students can expect. We’ll let you know whether the course is required or available for the Master of Divinity (MDiv), the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theological Studies (MTS). Each article will include the professors’ bio.

This week’s course is “Violence in the Bible.”

Jerome Creach teaching, Violence in the Bible

About Violence in the Bible

This term Pittsburgh Theological Seminary students will be learning about the difficult subject of violence with the Rev. Dr. Jerome Creach in the class “Violence in the Bible.” An upper level elective, this class is open to students in the Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Theological Studies (MTS) or Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry (MAPS) programs.

Dr. Creach’s course explores the many dimensions of violence in the Bible. In the class, students consider the portrait of God (apparently) acting violently and destructively, the (seeming) divine approval or sanction of violent acts, and accounts of venerated figures acting violently. The ultimate goal of the course is to provide ways of reading texts that seem to promote violence as integral parts of Christian Scripture.

By the end of the class, students will discuss the vocabulary of violence in the Bible (e.g. Hebrew hamas and associated terms). They will also be able to identify the various dimensions of violence in the Bible including violence attributed to God; divinely sanctioned violence; violence against women; violence in economic systems; and eschatological violence in the form of eternal punishment.

Dr. Creach will teach students to articulate the relationship between key tenets of the Christian faith—including theology proper and the work of Christ—and the issue and problem of violence. Students will learn to discuss perspectives on biblical authority, especially as it pertains to the relationship between Old and New Testaments.

This class will provide students with principles for interpreting problematic texts, informed by biblical studies and complementary disciplines (theology, ethics, church history). Upon completing the class, students should be able to articulate ways to use violence as a lens through which to read the whole of Christian Scripture.

As to required texts, this class will make use of Dr. Creach’s Violence in Scripture, as well as pertinent articles and essays.

Students will need to have completed introductory courses in Old Testament before taking “Violence in the Bible.” Those in the class can expect to be graded on class discussion as well as a book review and major paper.

 

About the Instructor

The Rev. Dr. Jerome Creach is the Robert C. Holland Professor of Old Testament. Before joining the faculty of Pittsburgh Seminary in 2000, he taught at Barton College (1994-2000), the College of William & Mary, Randolph-Macon College, and the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. Creach earned his doctorate at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia (now Union Presbyterian Seminary). Prior to his study at Union, he earned his M.Div. and Th.M. (in systematic theology) at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Creach is interested in Old Testament theology and the appropriation of the Bible to the life of the Church.

An ordained pastor in the PC(USA), Dr. Creach is widely published. Some of his works include: Ten Commandments for Today, Violence in Scripture, Planted by Streams of Water: The Destiny of the Righteous in the Psalms, Joshua. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, and Psalms: Interpretation Bible Studies.

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11/14 2018

Inside the PTS Curriculum: Genesis Through Esther

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The “Inside the PTS Curriculum” series gives you an inside look at what students are learning in their courses at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Each article focuses on one class, its subject matter, what students can expect to learn, the required texts, and the kinds of assignments students can expect. We’ll let you know whether the course is required or available for the Master of Divinity (MDiv), the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theological Studies (MTS). Each article will include the professors’ bio.

This week’s course is: “Introduction to Caring Ministries”.

MDiv biblical archaeology professor Ron Tappy

Ron Tappy, G. Albert Shoemaker Professor of Bible and Archaeology and Project Director and Principal Investigator, The Zeitah Excavations

About Genesis through Esther

This term Pittsburgh Theological Seminary students will be learning about the Bible with Dr. Ron Tappy or Rev. Dr. Steven Tuell in the class “Genesis through Esther.” A required course for the Master of Divinity (MDiv), it also fulfills a requirement for the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), and is open to students in the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree.

“Genesis through Esther” offers an introduction to the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch or Torah) and the Historical Books (Former Prophets) of the Old Testament. Students in this course get to explore the factors that gave rise to and helped shape this material. The course also addresses the specific content of these books and their various literary genres. Drs. Tappy and Tuell address methods used in the interpretation of Scripture (source, form, redaction, literary, socio-cultural, canonical, and rhetorical criticism) and the applicability of archaeological data in reconstructing the ancient world in which the texts arose. The goal, of course, is to seek a deeper understanding of core theological themes within the Judeo-Christian tradition, how these themes relate, and their significance in the church and world today.

By the end of the class students will have engaged in a critical introduction to the historical books of the Old Testament. They also will have read significant portions of each these books and developed a first-hand knowledge of the basic context of each book. The course also enables students to consider the theological relationships between the various books. Additionally, the course introduces students to major figures in the area of biblical studies who, over the last century, have analyzed specific portions of the canon.

Throughout the class students will consider issues related to textual and literary analyses, such as problems of historical and sociological reconstruction, the applicability of various archaeological data to the study of the Bible, and the larger world of Israel’s neighbors and their literary traditions. Students will also assess the affect that the various socio-cultural environments and traditions had upon the formation and development of ancient Israel and its literature.

Drs. Tappy and Tuell will guide students as they develop, through the pursuit of the areas mentioned above, a holistic approach to the study of the Bible. Ultimately, students will arrive at an understanding of the message of these writings as it related to the specific historical and cultural phase within which each text was composed. Students also will understand how the messages may apply correctly and effectively in our own culture and life circumstances (both personal and communal), developing a “conscious intentionality” about theological criteria for determining what constitutes a faithful interpretation of Scripture for our contemporary context.

As to required texts, students will use the Harper Collins Study Bible and Michael Coogan and Cynthia Chapman’s The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures.

Students in this course can expect both a midterm and final exam.

 

About the Instructors

MDiv Old Testament professor Steve Tuell

Steve Tuell, James A. Kelso Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament, teaches an MDiv course outdoors

Each professor for this course brings a unique and exciting perspective to the experience.

Dr. Ron Tappy is the G. Albert Shoemaker Professor of Bible and Archaeology. He also serves as the project director and principal investigator of The Zeitah Excavations, an archaeological field project at Tel Zayit, Israel. In addition to completing graduate work at the Jerusalem University College and the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, Tappy received an MATS degree summa cum laude from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and his AM and Ph.D. (with distinction) from Harvard University. His teaching focuses on the life and literature of the Old Testament period, biblical archaeology, and the history of Israel.

The Rev. Dr. Steven Tuell earned his Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia after studying at West Virginia Wesleyan College and Princeton Theological Seminary. He taught at Erskine College, S.C., (1989-1992) and Randolph-Macon College, Va. (1992-2005), receiving numerous awards for teaching excellence. Tuell’s research interests are biblical prophecy, particularly the book of Ezekiel and the Book of the Twelve, and the biblical literature of the early Persian Period. He has written numerous articles and book reviews, including multiple entries in Feasting on the Word (a commentary on the Common Lectionary published by Westminster John Knox).

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10/3 2018

INSIDE THE PTS CURRICULUM: Introduction to Caring Ministries

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The “Inside the PTS Curriculum” series gives you an inside look at what students are learning in their courses at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Each article focuses on one class, its subject matter, what students can expect to learn, the required texts, and the kinds of assignments students can expect. We’ll let you know whether the course is required or available for the Master of Divinity (MDiv), the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theological Studies (MTS). Each article will include the professors’ bio.

This week’s course is: “Introduction to Caring Ministries”.

Leanna Fuller teaches pastoral care

Professor Leanna Fuller teaches MDiv, MA, and Doctor of Ministry students at Pittsburgh Seminary.

About Introduction to Caring Ministries

This term, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary students will be learning about a specific aspect of ministry with the Rev. Dr. Leanna Fuller in the class “Introduction to Caring Ministries.” This is a required course for second year students in the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree program and can also satisfy a requirement for the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) degree. Introduction to Caring Ministry is available to students in the Master of Theology (MTS) program as well.

In “Introduction to Caring Ministry,” Dr. Fuller introduces students to the theology and practice of caring ministry. The class also pays special attention to pastoral self-awareness and key relational skills. Students in the class will develop their capacity to understand and discern the needs of persons and communities and will also determine appropriate responses to those needs. The course provides a chance for students to explore the intersection of leadership and care through the study of organizational dynamics and group processes.

By the end of the class, students will have an enhanced understanding of pastoral theology and pastoral care and their relationship to one another. Students will also explore and reflect on their Christian identity as caregivers. Dr. Fuller teaches students basic principles, theologies, and theories that ground pastoral care and how to use them to guide and critique their own ministry. Through the process, participants begin developing a practical expertise in the art of pastoral care through skill-building and reflection.

As to required texts, Dr. Fuller uses Debora van Deusen Hunsinger’s Pray without Ceasing, Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrrok and Karen B. Montagno’s Injustice and the Care of Souls, Emmanuel Lartey’s In Living Color, Ronald W. Richardson’s Creating a Healthier Church, and John Savage’s Listening and Caring Skills. In addition to the textbooks, Dr. Fuller assigns pertinent articles from time to time. Coursework typically includes short reflection papers, case study responses, and a final paper.

 

About the Instructor

A graduate of Vanderbilt University (Ph.D.), Vanderbilt Divinity School (M.Div.), and Furman University (B.A.), the Rev. Dr. Leanna Fuller is in her element when teaching about caring ministry. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, her most recent book is titled When Christ’s Body is Broken: Anxiety, Identity, and Conflict in Congregations (Wipf and Stock, 2016). Fuller has earned numerous fellowships, awards, and honors. She concerns herself with church conflict, and her book uses two case studies to examine the issue toward constructive outcomes. Fuller advises pastors to develop an intentional plan for dealing with congregational conflict—before the conflict arises! Some of the first steps, she says, include acknowledging that anxiety will be present in such circumstances and that the more serious the conflict the more time it will take to resolve it constructively.

 

 

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