Nijay and I were talking the other day about the different skills that people from evangelical schools bring to the table. Evangelical schools focus on exegesis, but they don’t do as good a job with history of interpretation and pulling things together. In other words, they do good with analysis but not with synthesis.
I finally got around to reading J. Christiaan Beker’s The Triumph of God. (I know I should have read it earlier.) I asked around to the cadre of other NT students and none of us had to read the book (or his larger version Paul the Apostle) in our seminary or undergrad programs. But there should be a point where students take a step back and look at bigger picture issues and read central books like this. [By the way, this book is a great summary of the school of thought John Barclay follows.]
Now that I am doing some teaching in a much different setting, it’s hit me even more. In the UK students receive about 1/3 of the amount of lecturing than in the US. The emphasis here is on giving the big picture and having the student develop personal critical thinking. This is at the undergrad level, but even at seminaries in the states the emphasis is upon downloading lots of facts. For instance, at DTS we had to take some 18 hrs of Bible survey classes. Only one of those classes was solely focused on methodology. The rest were mostly a focus on commentary detail. They could have been so much more helpful and influential had they focused more upon interpretive methodology for the different genres or synthetic studies like Beker’s. And from talking to other people, DTS is not really any different than other evangelical schools.