Sunday, August 24, 2008

Wrapping up Romans

I finished my last class teaching Romans at my local church this evening. The 12-week course enabled me to only look at Romans 1-11, with this 12th week concerned with feedback from the class.

The experience was great and although many hours of preparation were invested I still felt as though much was left untouched, even aside from Romans chs. 12-16. The class ran only 90 minutes long and I had to cover an entire chapter at a time. Operating at this pace made me feel like I did at the Smithsonian Institution in the 6th grade, as we were only given 3 hours to tour the three museums! With this in mind, I needed to touch on the big picture ideas of Romans and not make the lessons a blur of unnecessary minutiae. This approach ultimately made me a better teacher and communicator.

This brings me to a question: Those who have taught Romans either at the seminary level or at the church level, how much time was given for each class? Also, the second question flows from the first, namely how does your teaching differ from the seminary to the church setting?

One thing I have noticed is that with educated lay folk, more things need to be spelled out. One should not assume that words like 'christophany' or references to Paul's rhetorical techniques need no explanation. Furthermore, Greek needs to be used rather sparingly. If you go off on a grammatical tangent most of the class will look at you as if you have a horn growing from your head. At the same time, however, one should not underestimate his/her class. Tonight was a perfect example as a class member asked me what I thought of 'replacement theologies.'

I look forward to the opportunity of doing this again. Maybe I'll opt for a shorter NT letter next time, although I don't believe "12 weeks in Jude" would make for the greatest experience!


Matthew R. Malcolm said...

I have preached on Romans, but never run a course on it (apart from a one-session introduction at theological college) - but in terms of 1 Corinthians, my pattern would be similar to yours: I ran a semester-long unit at theological college on 1 Corinthians in the Greek, during which we covered only 8 chapters - and even then we seemed to be racing through it...

But when preaching through it at church, I covered it in 4 sessions, in order to try to communicate the big picture... and if I were to do it in evening classes at church, I'd do 4-6 sessions, using little/no Greek, and helping the people to appreciate the major movement of the letter.

I actually think that this 'big picture' stuff is often neglected at the seminary/exegetical/commentary level, which is a shame.

Byron said...


In My Romans class we have ten weeks to cover the book. I have 3 hours per session. I end up spending the first 8 weeks on chapters 1-8, week 9 on chapters 9-11 and week 10 on chapters 12-16. Not ideal, but the only way I can possibly cover some of the more important issues.