My Seminary Now “New Testament Introduction” (Live Course with Video Lectures)

My Seminary Now “New Testament Introduction” (Live Course with Video Lectures) August 7, 2023

I’m excited to be teaching a live-format course with Seminary Now with high quality video lectures. This is an affordable way to try out seminary.

Learn more about the format and course HERE.

Recently I was interviewed by SeminaryNow, check out the discussion below:

What is the most common question you get when it comes to the New Testament and why do you think this is the case?

I get a lot of questions about how to apply these seemingly ancient texts to life today. While it’s true there is a big time and culture gap between life in the ancient Roman world and life in the West today, there are so many things common to all human life as well: friendship, loss, suffering, dreams and hopes, money problems, relationship problems, politics.

People are people, and the Bible is about real life, not just heaven and the afterlife. So, I encourage students of the Bible to think about the people who first received Romans, or Matthew, or Hebrews, or Revelation—how would these texts have helped them to live in the grind of normal life? How did it bring comfort? Challenge them? Give them hope? Heal relationships? Understand better how to honor God in the mundane as well as in sacred spaces? A little work understanding context goes a long way!

How can understanding the historical context of the New Testament bring it to life for us today?

It helps to have a basic understanding of the key historical events around the time of Jesus. Think about life today, and how it has been shaped by recent things like 9/11, the smart-phone revolution, and the pandemic.

If we understand key cultural events—like the shift from a republic to an empire, or the destruction of the Jewish temple—we can make sense of how people thought about the world in the past. There is also the significance of cultural values and social dynamics. How do men and women relate? How did society look at children? Foreigners? Social class?

We can make better sense of why Jews and Samaritan didn’t get along, or why Peter didn’t want to interact with Cornelius, or why some looked down on people from Nazareth.

Are there a few passages that have really spoken to you personally over the years?

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately in Ephesians for some of my research. I have come to see this as a kind of liturgical sermon that functions as something like Paul’s “Greatest Hits” of his key preaching points throughout his career: unity in the church, leaving behind old bad habits, striving towards health and growth, and especially his most important message: God’s generous love in Christ and his desire to be loved by us.

The “good news” of the gospel is not just how to get saved; it is really about the God who pursues sinners to rescue them and make them a part of his family, because he loves us. Whenever I read Ephesians, I feel like Paul is bursting with gratitude as he ponders this God who is full of compassion, mercy, and love.

How is your New Testament Survey course different than similar courses offered today? What is your hope for all those who take this course?

This course aims for a balance of different elements of each book of the New Testament: we look at the background and situation, a basic outline of the text, tricky texts that have confusing or difficult information, and theological themes and distinctives. We can’t cover every single important issue in the New Testament, but we cover a lot of ground in a short space.

My hope is for students to grow in their knowledge of the New Testament, to have a basic understanding of each book of the New Testament, and to be inspired to continue their studies so they can go deeper.

 


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