The semester is at its midway point. Tomorrow the students will be taking their mid-terms. It's been a whirlwind. I can't believe we're in March already! Thus far this internship has been a great joy. I've been part student, part instructor. As a student I've had the opportunity to observe Dr. Ruben Dupertuis' pedagogical method. He's been quite a mentor both in the classroom as I've watched him teach as well as after most class sessions as we've had a chance to debrief. The students have been inquisitive, insightful, and open-minded. I fear that things may be going too well — the bar has been set high! If I have the opportunity to teach professionally someday I hope I can have a group of students like this group, every semester!
The first quarter of the semester I didn't do any lecturing. I would address the class briefly, for example, if something having to do with John the Baptist needed to be explained. Otherwise, I assisted where needed, helping organize group discussions and that sort of thing. Then within the period of a week I gave two lectures on my own. The first was a juxtaposition of the Gospels of John and Thomas. That was a lot of material to cover. While I like the pedagogical approach of teaching these two gospels in conversation with one another, I think more time may be needed to do either gospel justice. But this was something new, something experimental that Dr. Dupertuis had never done before this semester, so considering that we had no precedent I think it went well.
The second lecture was given yesterday on the "historical Jesus" or as I titled it the "historian's Jesus," in order to emphasize the subjectivity of the historian's work. I tried to convey to the students that the "quests for the historical Jesus" as an essential impossibility. We can never retrieve Jesus from the past; we must never stop trying to understand the Jesus of the past. My main talking points were two-fold: (1) that these are portraits we paint of Jesus, not objective depictions, though portraits that must aim to provide a narrative with explanatory power based on what data we have available to us and (2) that the search for the Jesus of the past is one that must be done ethically, recognizing both our own limitations as well as the dangers associated with ignoring the reality that Jesus was a real human who lived in the first-century CE in Roman occupied Jewish Galilee. If we do not take the task of historical research seriously, flaws and all, we open the door for all sorts of potentially dangerous theological Jesuses who have no association with Jesus of Nazareth (I realize this can be true of dangerous historical Jesuses as well).
I am scheduled for two lectures during the second-half of this semester. The first is March 24th when I'll be talking to the students about "Paul and Circumcision," i.e., essentially what has been uncovered by the new perspectives on Paul regarding Jewish identity markers. Then on April 14th I'll guide the students through 1 Peter as an example of Christian literature aiming to support and sustain Christians in the Roman Empire. As with this first-half, I presume I'll do parts of the other class sessions in the second-half, but these two lecture are my main responsibility.