The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Aug 21, 2014

Priorities of a new Bible professor

Beginning August 1st, 2014, I have officially been the brand new professor of Biblical Studies at Baptist College of Ministry in Menomonee Falls, WI, for which I thank the Lord. Fortunately, I do not actually teach a class until late September (a 9-week block), but at that point I will be teaching Jewish History (junior-level college), Beginning Biblical Hebrew (seminary) and Composition and Rhetoric (college freshman level class, focusing on research and writing). [A Bible college prof has to be flexible J All this is somewhat ironic since I’m a New Testament guy, but I’m just happy to be teaching the Bible! All these will be fun classes, but I’m really, really looking forward to Hermeneutics, which I’ve been promised for Spring 2014]

Already, since moving up here, my father and I have attended an multiple-school faculty summit and presented papers, and I have also submitted said paper to a journal for publication (first time in about 3 years I’ve submitted a paper; we’ll see what comes of it). Here, however, are my priorities now that I’m preparing to teach: first tier, second tier, and third tier

First Tier Responsibilities: Those directly related to classes and the church
1.     My very first action as professor, which occurred technically before I was officially staff, was to choose a textbook for Beginning Biblical Hebrew (I went with Pratico/Van Pelt’s Basics of Biblical Hebrew after consulting with some esteemed Hebrew teachers). This was important because, although I made some minor changes to Jewish History, adding the Zondervan Bible Atlas (but still kept last year’s textbook, Merrill’s Kingdom of Priests), in Hebrew I was making some more substantial changes.
2.     Begin putting together syllabi: Jewish History has been a huge priority here, because laying out the class schedule and content is less intuitive than working off of the textbook in Beginning Biblical Hebrew. Also, the textbook does not go as far as AD 70, which is where the class is supposed to go. I’ve also begun putting together new syllabi for Hebrew and Comp/Rhetoric, but Jewish History definitely takes priority.
3.     Begin personal research for classes: once again, Jewish History takes priority here, since I’m starting from scratch; Hebrew will be fairly easy to construct a syllabus, figure out the content (although starting next week I intend to start my own program of Hebrew review; I’ve already started daily readings out of my Hebrew OT). For Jewish History, I’ve purchased a number of books at my own expense, especially benefitting from John Sailhamer’s short but handy Old Testament History and also Rooker/Merrill/Grisanti’s OT Intro The World and the Word, also K. A. Kitchen’s On the Reliability of the Old Testament.
4.     Become integrated with my local church: while this should be a high priority for any professor, it’s especially important for me since BCM is a ministry of a local church. As an employee of the college, I am also an employee of the church. I am looking forward to being plugged in to ministry here and contributing to the overall mission.

Second Tier Responsibilities: Personal Research, part 1; thinking of Spring ‘14
1.     I am extremely grateful that by this point my book is done, in the final stages of production, and I look ahead to my next publishing endeavors. First of all, though, I really, really need to get back into Theological German so I am going to try to start a nightly program of studying German and reading the German Bible. This is essential if I want to continue contributing to Biblical scholarship.
2.     Next two articles, next book: at this point I’ve started laying the groundwork for two more articles, ideally (and maybe naively) that I hope to finish by the end of the year and submit to publications. My next book has also started to coalesce in my mind, but it will be a simpler, less-academic and more practical book for which I have already started doing research.
3.     Looking ahead to next semester: I already have ideas for Hermeneutics. I need to start formulating what I want to do with that and the other classes.
4.     By the way, a really important note: in the fantastic book Those Who Can, Teach: Teaching as a Christian Vocation, ed. Porter, there’s an essay in there called “From Doctoral Program to Classroom” by Steven Studebaker which talks about how, even when you’re not teaching classes that necessarily tied directly in with your dissertation, you can still benefit from researching for those classes (both by broadening your horizons and figuring out how they can tie in with your research goals).

Third Tier Responsibilities: Personal Research, part 2
1.     Once I start fulfilling my other responsibilities and goals at a satisfactory clip, I can start to think of my next truly academic book (hint: something to do with Peter again . . .)
2.     And, I also have some other articles that I want to get off the carrier, at least, though they may be shot down by the SAM missiles of peer-review, but enough with this silly analogy, full-afterburners ahead!

And, always a 1st-tier, 2nd-tier, and 3rd-tier responsibility simultaneously, be thanking the Lord that I’m actually in such a position to be blogging on this topic as a teacher!

Aug 11, 2014

Dr Rodney Decker's last paper and other highlights of the 2014 Bible Faculty Summit in Clark Summit, PA

Last week, my father and I, as brand-new faculty at Baptist College of Ministry, had the privilege of attending the Bible Faculty Summit , an annual event for schools identifying within a broader fundamentalist tradition (which includes some Methodists and Presbyterians; also "more fun, less mental," I might add!). The various schools (e.g., BJU, MBU, BBC) take turns hosting a "Bible Faculty Summit" which functions as sort of a "mini-ETS" where, instead of choosing which papers to go to and only getting about 5 minutes of Q&A, everybody is in attendance for every paper and we end up with 30-40 minutes of Q&A! Some of the papers are quite interesting and provide a major contribution to discussions with broader evangelicalism as well as fundamentalism. One of the major contributors, Dr. Kevin Bauder, has become the intellectual face of moderate fundamentalism and has published essays in Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism (ed. Naselli and Hansen)  and Pilgrims on the Sawdust Trail: Evangelical Ecumenism and the Quest for Self-Identity (ed. Timothy George). Both my father and I presented papers (Dad presented on Eugene Nida's translation philosophy, and I presented on the use and meaning of didaktikos in 1 Timothy 3:2 and 2 Timothy 2:24).

The highlight, however, was a tribute to Dr. Rodney Decker and the reading of his last paper. Dr. Rodney Decker is one of the few genuine scholars to identify within the broader fundamentalist movement in the past few decades (not because fundamentalists are dumb, but rather because we usually don't have time to write as much academic stuff!). Dr. Decker taught at Baptist Bible College and Seminary in Clark Summit,  Pennsylvania, but recently succumbed to terminal cancer. His last paper, "The Christian and Self-Defense," was read both in a chapel and at our Bible Faculty Summit posthumously. Click here for the link to the paper. By the way, Dr. Decker has a few books coming out posthumously as well: Reading Koine Greek and Mark 1-8: A Handbook on the Greek Text (and the second volume to Mark, as well). His scholarship will be missed (final note: his revised dissertation, Temporal Deixis of the Greek Verb in the Gospel of Mark with Reference to Verbal Aspect, was published by the prestigious Peter Lang publishing company).

One truly final note for this post: I always thought it would be neat if you could have a book, something like Tools for Studying the Bible, co-authored by Dr. Decker and my own adviser, because then you'd have something by "Black and Decker . . ."   (pity my students; this is the type of humor I'll be bringing . . .")

Aug 2, 2014

In praise of scholars who answer their e-mail!

Now that I'm a professor too (first day on the job was Friday, August 1st), I wanted to take a minute and mention something I've always appreciated about certain professors. About 7 years ago, when I was working on my M. Div., I sent a question via e-mail to a certain high-profile Greek and textual criticism scholar at Dallas Theological. Within 3 days he had responded. When working on my doctorate at Southeastern, my adviser Dr. David Black was extremely quick to respond to e-mails, usually within 24-hours. In fact, most of the profs at Southeaster were very good at that. Even those who were a bit slower would at least acknowledge that they'd gotten my e-mail and then respond in a week. A few weeks ago I had e-mailed a question to an OT scholar at Southeastern regarding his advice on beginning Hebrew textbooks (since, somewhat ironically, I will be teaching Hebrew this Fall--looking forward to it! :) );  within 24 hours he had responded. I've corresponded with two scholars at Wheaton Divinity, and both responded very quickly.

My point is this: I appreciate it when scholars respond to e-mails from students, especially those from a different institution whom they may not know from Adam.  It shows a desire to help and a desire to further the education of other Christians, even those they do not know. I can only imagine the staggering amount of e-mail high profile professors receive on a regular basis; to actually respond to somebody like me speaks to both their generosity with their time and their e-mail manageament skills.

Here, then, is my pledge as a new professor: I will try to treat genuine Biblical/theological questions from students and even non-students with a high priority. Now, some of that has to be filtered. About a month ago I received an e-mail from a certain gentlemen whom I did not know who was not interested in dialogue, only arguing. The "question" was just a set-up to tell me I was wrong (apparently that's a hobby of this person, to e-mail random Bible bloggers and/or professors? I didn't even know who this person is!) But if the Lord has called me to be a professor of the Bible, then I have an obligation to be willing to talk to people about the Bible, both within my school and without. May the Lord grant me the discipline to do so in the coming years!