My third and (hopefully) final year of Divinity School began last week. The first two years flew by. I’ve learned a lot and feel closer to God. I’m not sure what that last part really means but it is how I feel.
If all goes well, I will graduate with a Master of Divinity (M. Div.) degree in May 2019.
It is going to be a difficult semester. I started going through the syllabi for my classes on Thursday, putting dates for homework, quizzes, exams, papers, etc., on my calendar, and spent another two hours doing so this afternoon. Just writing it all down was so draining that I had to take a nap right after, and I rarely take naps.
I continue to practice law roughly half-time. Managing school, law practice, community life, and family life has been a real challenge. Mobile phones, VPNs, laptops, Uber, and lots of places at Wake Forest to have private phone calls have helped on the work front. What has really made the day in the law-practice category, though, are my fantastic assistant and my colleagues. Most important of all, my wife Tracey has been exceedingly patient with sleep-deprived me. I know I am fortunate.
This semester, I am taking six classes:
(1) Hebrew I
(2) Interpreting New Testament Gospels
(3) Classics of Contemplative Theology
(4) History of Christianity I (though 1517)
(5) Third-Year Capstone
(6) Public Theology Internship
Most all of the Old Testament was written in the Ancient Hebrew language. All Wake Divinity School students who did not complete two semesters of an approved language as an undergraduate must complete two semesters of a foreign language in Divinity School. I fulfilled this requirement by taking two semesters of New Testament Greek last year, so I do not have to take Hebrew, but the professor is supposed to be excellent and I figure while I’m here, I might as well. It will probably be my toughest class this semester.
Interpreting New Testament Gospels
I have taken the New Testament survey class at Wake Divinity, as well as the class that focuses on interpreting the New Testament Letters (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, etc.). This semester, I am taking a class that focuses on the New Testament Gospel books (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). The class also considers the non-canonical Gospels, the ones that didn’t “make the list” to be included in our Bibles, like the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Thomas, and the Gospel of Peter.
Our first assignment is to read all four of the canonical Gospels and to make our own outline of each in preparation for our “Gospels content exam” in early October. We are not supposed to use the headers or outlines present in some Bibles. The overall content of each book is something we are supposed to learn on our own time. Our class time and class readings will be spent on specific subjects, like source, redaction, and narrative criticism of the text.
Classics of Contemplative Theology
This class will probably be the most interesting one of the semester. It focuses on mystical theology, focusing primarily on Christian sources but also spending substantial time comparing them with Islamic sources. We began the semester by considering the Jesuits (the Society of Jesus) and Islamic mystical poetry. The major theme of the class is “a transformative journey of love and knowledge with and toward the divine presence and sometimes culminating in divine union.”
History of Christianity I
I took History of Christianity II during my first year of Divinity School. It considered Reformation and after (1517 to present). History of Christianity I considers from just before Jesus’s birth to 1517. We began the semester by considering the relationship between Judaism and Christianity in the first century.
All students in the their final year of Divinity School must take this class. It mainly helps students consider their calling or vocation (including what God might want them to do) and prepares them for post-Divinity School life. It is a mix of the divine and the practical, including placement goals, interview skills, financial planning for ministers (this is probably mostly about planning not to have any money), and similar topics. The class lasts only 6 weeks.
Public Theology Internship
I will engage in a “public theology” internship again this year. All students in the Divinity School must complete two 100-hour internships to graduate.
Mostly I will continue writing and publishing articles on theological topics via AuthenticTheology.com. A lot more people read the posts than I imagined ever would, and I am encouraged by the comments and questions I receive. I will also teach Sunday School this quarter, speak on various topics at a few churches, and preach occasionally.
I appreciate all — well, most all 🙂 — of the comments and questions I’ve received regarding what I’ve had to say in my blog posts and regarding my Divinity School endeavors.
I hope you will communicate with me about these things in your own way this semester— whether it is blog-post comments, Facebook comments, private messages, conversations, ….
I am thankful for that communication and welcome it anytime.
Below is my “first day of school” picture from last week ….
(The top picture is one I took on Wake Forest’s campus last week. It’s a reminder of religious diversity on campus.)