Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

10/4 2019

Inside the PTS Curriculum: Introduction to Urban Ministry

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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 Urban Ministry.”

Drew Smith, Professor Urban Ministry

About Introduction to Urban Ministry

During this term, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary students will be learning about urban ministry with the Rev. Dr. R. Drew Smith in the class “Introduction to Urban Ministry.” This is a required course for the Graduate Certificate in Urban Ministry and is also open to students in the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree, Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) degree, or Master of Theology (MTS) degree program.

This course . Attention is given to helping students discern their vocational call in the context of city life and Christian witness in this arena. Further, this course explores social factors and theological premises impacting and influencing ministry approaches to urban contexts, circumstances, and populations. Students also learn about analytical tools (both theological and sociological) that are helpful in critiquing ministry approaches to ever-evolving demographic, cultural, psycho-social, and sociostructural complexities of 21st century urban life.

As to required texts, student will read Urban Ministry Reconsidered: Contexts and Approaches, edited by Dr. Smith, Stephanie C. Boddie, and Ronald E. Peters. Students will also complete three two-page discussion papers plus a final paper and presentation.

About the Instructor

Both a political scientist and a clergyman, the Rev. Dr. R. Drew Smith has initiated and directed a number of projects related to religion and public life which have collected research data on political involvements, community development activities, and outreach ministries of churches, especially African-American churches. He has also conducted similar research in South Africa, including while serving in 2005 as a Fulbright professor at the University of Pretoria. His overseas involvements additionally include serving in 2009 as a Fulbright senior specialist at Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Cameroon and lecturing in many international venues including as part of the U.S. State Department’s Speakers Bureau. He has served since 2010 as co-convener of the Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race, an initiative that convenes scholars, religious leaders, and community activists from across the transatlantic region for purposes of advancing progressive approaches to persistent racial problems in various contexts. An ordained a Baptist clergyman, Professor Smith is a graduate of Indiana University and Yale University.

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1/3 2019

Inside the PTS Curriculum: Foundations of the Christian Story

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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 “Foundations of the Christian Story.”

Ken Woo teaching MDiv church history classAbout Foundations of the Christian Story

In the 2018 Fall Term Pittsburgh Theological Seminary students learned about Church history with the Rev. Dr. Ken Woo in the class “Foundations of the Christian Story. ” 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.

This course surveys the history of Christianity from the late first century to the eve of the Reformation. Doctrinal and ecclesial developments will be considered within wider cultural contexts, with special attention to different ways of interpreting the biblical witness to Christ and life in Christ, and how they contribute to a shared, yet dynamic, Christian theological heritage.

By the end of the class, students were able to describe key figures and events of early and medieval Christianity within their cultural and political contexts. Also students were able to discuss theological issues that shaped, and continue to shape, Christian faith and traditions. Dr. Woo provided students with a historical framework for understanding the development of Christian doctrine, practices, and institutions that will prepare them for further theological study.

As to required texts, this course used The Story of Christianity, Volume I by Justo L. Gonzalez. Students also read The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks, translated by B. Ward, and Athanasius’ On the Incarnation. Frederick C. Bauerschmidt’s Holy Teaching was also required.

Dr. Woo also recommended a number of other texts to offer further insight. Students explored texts such as Elizabeth A. Clark’s Women in the Early Church, Denis R. Janz’s A People’s History of Christianity Vol. 1, Kevin Madigan’s Medieval Christianity, Patricia Cox Miller’s Women in Early Christianity, Robert Louis Wilken’s The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, and Frances Young’s From Nicaea to Chalcedon.

Students in “Foundations of the Christian Story” actively participated in class and completed two short papers, as well as a midterm and a final exam.

 

About the Instructor

The professor for this course, the Rev. Dr. Kenneth J. Woo, began teaching at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 2016. Previously he was historian and archivist of Duke Divinity School. He has taught at Duke Divinity School, Redeemer Seminary, and the College of New Jersey. He has also served as a faculty member in the United Methodist Church Course of Study program for ordained ministry. Woo received his Th.D. in the history of Christianity (Reformation Studies) from Duke University in 2015. Before that he completed his M.Div. at Westminster Theological Seminary and B.A. at the College of William and Mary.

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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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