Monday, December 25, 2006

Dang Cowboys!

What a way to ruin a Christmas!

The Cowboys have been SO up and down this year. Two weeks ago (at home, against N'Orleans), they looked FREAKING PUTRID! Last week, against Hotlanta, they looked GREAT, like worldbeaters.

So: today, they had a chance to virtually wrap up the NFC East and a first round bye. The hated Philthydelphia Iggles were coming to town. So what did the 'Boys do?

Not a blooming thing. They looked just as bad, if not worse, than they did a couple of weeks ago against the Saints.



What I'm doing with my Christmas vacation:

Mirrored from

So what am I doing over my Christmas break?

BIG TASK #1: generating syllabi for not one but TWO Pastoral Epistles-related classes for the spring.
  1. FIRST is a 300-level class in the Pastorals. I've taught this class every spring since I've been at KCU and have NOT been happy with it, ever. Previously, I've taught it where the students had to write several small research papers on issues like authorship, women in the PE, etc. I've also done it with other types of projects and papers. THIS SEMESTER, I'm going to have students make group presentation on the hot topics (women in the church, church discipline, etc.)
  2. SECOND is a class in expository preaching, which I'm teaching because our preaching professor left and hasn't been replaced. I'm going to focus on exegesis and sermon development, and the Pastorals will be our primary text.
What books are we using? Towner's new commentary; Luke Johnson's offering from the Knox Preaching Guides, which I've had reprinted; Mark Harding's What Are They Saying about the Pastoral Epistles?; I think that's it.

Last spring, I required students in the undergrad class to purchase and write a book report on my book, Leadership Succession in the World of the Pauline Circle. It was a disaster. I felt guilty about requiring my students to spend $85 on my book, and it was WAY too far over their heads.

So now I only require it for my graduate seminar in the Pastorals.

Other things I'm doing, non-Pastorals related:
  • BIG TASK #2: Installing Pergo on the top floor of our house. It's a Christmas present for both me and my wife. Honestly, it's more a present for my wife, but I've always wanted it too!
  • Doing all kinds of church and ministry related stuff;
  • Doing all kinds of family stuff--Christmas concerts, basketball practice, daddy's taxi service, shopping and cleaning up;
  • Teaching an online class (200-level Gospel of Luke) from 15 December through the end of January. I've got a ton of emails and online discussion posts to read every day. (We're using SAKAI, btw, and it ain't great.)
  • And (of course) watching football and eating way too much.

Reflections on requiring my own book in a class

Mirrored from

In the previous post, I wrote that last Spring semester, I required my undergrad Pastoral Epistles class to purchase and write book reports on my book, Leadership Succession in the World of the Pauline Circle. I want to unpack my comment.

I came to KCU in fall 2003. I have taught the Pastoral Epistles to undergrads (300-level) every spring since then. I have also taught these letters in an online graduate seminar.

The graduate seminar students had few problems with my book. They understood it, were able to summarize the contents, and even offered a few helpful criticisms.

The Spring 2006 class: half the class was completely lost. One of the problems was that I had several second-semester Freshmen in the class. Freshmen should not take 300- or 400-level Bible classes. (Of course, ONE of the Freshmen actually did handle the book pretty well.)

I did not require the book in Spring 2004 or 2005, because it had not been released yet. But my impression of my students in those semesters was that they would have been able to handle the book, and would have benefitted from it even as they struggled with it.

My observations:
  1. The quality of students in a given class can fluctuate wildly from semester to semester. This is frustrating for those of us professors who really want our students to understand and benefit from the material we try to teach them.
  2. This is also one of the attendant joys of trying to teach serious Biblical studies classes in a Liberal Arts setting. In some of my Bible classes, I'll have 30-40% of the students who are ministry majors. I may teach the same class the next year, but have only 10% of the students majoring in Bible or ministry.
  3. I tried to aim the book so that educated ministers, church leaders, etc., could benefit from it. It was not just written for eggheads like me. Most semesters, my Pastoral Epistles classes would have gotten it.
  4. I should quit beating myself up for requiring the book, and just chalk it up to experience.
  5. Will I require future undergraduate classes to purchase and use my book? Yes, but I'll check the majors of preregistered students, etc., to determine ahead of time if they can handle the book.

My new blog

I am now part of a group of bloggers writing at I will also continue to post here (at theophiluspunk), and I PROMISE TO BE MORE ACTIVE.

I will try to consistently mirror my posts here, but I invite you to check out that blog. I and the other bloggers are scholars who focus on the Pastoral Epistles, 1-2 Timothy and Titus, from the New Testament. I think there's some interesting stuff there.