Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

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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9/26 2018

Inside the PTS Curriculum: Gospels, Acts, and Johannine Epistles

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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: Gospels, Acts, and Johannine Epistles.

 

mdiv contextual learning class in Pittsburgh

Professor Edith Humphrey teaches MDiv, MA, and Doctor of Ministry students at Pittsburgh Seminary.

About Gospels, Acts, and Johannine Epistles

This term Pittsburgh Theological Seminary students will be studying the Gospels with Dr. Edith Humphrey and Dr. Tucker Ferda in the class “Gospels, Acts, Johannine Epistles.” A required course for the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree, the class 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.

Students in the course will get an introduction to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (along with John’s Epistles), and Act, as well as explore their significance in the Church and the world today.

The class devotes time and attention to the specific content of each of the books, as well as to their genres and connections with ancient biography or history. Students will also explore the various theological and historical portraits of Jesus and learn about the methods used in critical study of the Gospels (source, form, redaction, literary, sociohistorical, canonical, and rhetorical).

By the end of the class, students will have a better understanding of the contents, structures, and literary genres of these New Testament books. They will also gain an appreciation for the historical context of Second Temple Judaism and the Greco-Roman world.

Students will leave with tools and methods to interpret Acts, the Gospels, and John’s epistles as Christian Scripture, as well as the ability to consider how socio-cultural context shapes interpretive traditions and practices. In addition to the historical and interpretive work students will do, they will spend time reflecting on the connection between Christian ministry and biblical insight, both then and now.

As a first year course, the Gospels, Acts, and Johannine Epistles class offers students an opportunity to begin to engage in graduate-level theological research, as well as foster a love of the texts in their unity and diversity.

As to required texts, students will use either the New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha or Harper Collins Study Bible (NRSV) with Apocrypha. They will also use Burton H. Throckmorton’s, Gospel Parallels or Kurt Aland’s Synopsis of the Four Gospels (which is Greek/English). The final required text is the second edition of David Wenham and Steve Walton, Exploring the New Testament: A Guide to the Gospels and Acts, vol. 1.

In addition to course participation and written reflection on the assigned readings, students can expect three short writing assignments, two content quizzes, and a five to seven page essay.

 

About the Instructors

The professors for this course are uniquely qualified to lead students in their exploration of New Testament. Dr. Edith M. Humphrey is the William F. Orr Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (2002-present). Prior to her service at PTS, she taught at several colleges and universities in Canada and was professor of Scripture at Augustine College, Ottawa, Canada, from 1997-2002, where in her final year she served as dean. She earned her bachelor’s (with honors) from Victoria University (University of Toronto) and received her doctorate from McGill University, Montreal, where she was awarded the Governor General’s Gold Medal.

A prolific author, several of Dr. Humphrey’s recent books include, Further Up and Further In: Orthodox Conversations with C. S. Lewis on Scripture and Theology (St. Vladimir’s Press, 2017); Scripture and Tradition: What the Bible Really Says (Baker Academic, 2013); Grand Entrance: Worship on Earth as in Heaven (Brazos, 2010).

In addition to her writing and scholarship, Dr. Humphrey is also an accomplished musician. She was the musical director and organist at St. George’s Anglican Church in Ottawa, she now helps with her parish choir, participates in the PTS Taizé ensemble, and plays oboe in the North Pittsburgh Symphonic Band.  In addition to her thought-provoking lectures and discussions, Dr. Humphrey often incorporates music into her classes.

Also teaching this course is Dr. Tucker Ferda, who began his position as visiting assistant professor of New Testament in 2017 after serving as a lecturer since 2013. He earned his Ph.D. in New Testament from the University of Pittsburgh, where he also served as teaching fellow. In 2015, he was named one of only three Society of Biblical Literature Regional Scholars, an award which “recognizes and promotes outstanding entry-level scholars.” Dr. Ferda has expertise in a wide range of areas in biblical studies, including the Gospels, the life of Jesus, the Old Testament in the New, the history of biblical interpretation, Hellenistic Jewish literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and biblical theology.

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