help me prepare a course about Jesus

I’ve mentioned that I’m slated to run a six week course on the person and work of Jesus at La Trobe. Here’s my brief:

  • Who? Christian university students attending a weekly training evening.
  • How? Run six 1 hour seminars (with a mix of learning modes — small group discussion, brainstorming, etc)
  • Why? To help them develop in theological maturity and be better equipped to share the good news about Jesus with others.

I’m not quite sure how I want to tackle it at this stage. I’m currently tossing up a couple of different options:

Option 1: explore a variety of different ‘angles’ and emphases

This would (presumably) involve spending some time on the expectations raised in the OT that are picked up and related to Jesus in the New Testament — and possibly exploring how they’re refracted in 1st Century Judaism. I would then plan to move through the different ‘portraits’ of Jesus painted in different New Testament writings (e.g., Paul’s letters, one the Synoptic Gospels — probably Luke — John’s Gospel, and the Book of Revelation).

Option 2: systematically examine one New Testament ‘statement of belief’ about Jesus

I’m thinking either Philippians 2.5-11 or Romans 1.1-5. We’d take whichever one of these statements I settle on one clause at a time, using each one as a springboard into the broader topic. This would cover a lot of the same territory as in Option 1, but may help limit any arbitrariness in the selection of topics and overall order we follow.

The way I see it, the pros and cons of each approach look a little bit like this:

I’d love to hear what you think about the strengths (and weaknesses) of these different approaches.

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7 comments

  1. Hey Chris – this is a great assignment. I like both options because both seem to use scripture as a framework, rather than the usual categories of a Christology class. This, I dare say, would be especially appropriate and helpful for your audience.

    At the end of the day however, my vote goes to option 2 – perhaps easier to work with one text – and Romans 1:1-5 – a passage I would love to hear you speak on; theologically, of course…

    That said, I think the risk of abstracting the text from its context is problematic; not sure exactly how that is solved…

    Let me know what you decide and how it all goes.

    1. Thanks Chris. I was tilting in the direction of Romans 1.1-5 (at least over the more ‘obvious’ choice from Phil 2). But I had fun brainstorming all the possibilities for creatively teaching option 1 on the train yesterday. I’ll keep you posted…

  2. Variety is the spice of life 🙂
    Having said that, both options sound great (ie. I’d sign up for both) but if I were a student I’d probably prefer tackling a range of stuff. It’d give me more leads to follow up after the course!

  3. Hey Chris, only just recently found you 🙂 I have to say, I do like option 2 better… Even though its like your reading to a sort of “rule of faith”, there’s no better organising scheme than scripture. Plus, you dont really have to abstract this passge from its original context – your last session could be to expound on that passage and apply it to the university setting, so as to demonstrate the value of spending 5 weeks on rigourous theology .

    1. Hey Mike, nice to hear that you found us! Your suggestion about spending the last week on exposition makes a lot of sense. The thought occurs to me that I could even reverse it and start with that (so they don’t have to hang on through five weeks before they get the ‘cash value’, so to speak). What do you reckon?

  4. Thanks! Yeah, I do think starting with that definitely lets them see where they are going with it. Were you planning on referring back to the passage throughout the rest of the time?

    Having said that, I actually dont mind the idea of getting them to hang on till the end. I know it sounds a bit like “tune in for the next exciting episode of…” but it gets the keen beans thinking for themselves during the week and doing some of their own reading perhaps. Maybe at the end of each session you could allude back to the passage and leave them with some exegetical question like “so what did Paul mean when he said “who being in very nature God did not grasp at being God?”… and then the final session could be an incidental summation of all those issues while expounding on the passage.

    1. Nice one, Mike.

      My thought was to take one clause of whichever passage I pick and organise our thinking about it under that heading each week. That way, we’d be moving through the passage bit by bit, letting it be our ‘tour guide’ as we explore who Jesus is and what he’s done/doing.

      So we’d definitely be coming back to it each week. But I take your point about somehow building in a dynamic, overall anticipating/revision thing, culminating in a ‘drawing all the threads together’ moment. I’ll have a think about it…

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