Biblical Studies and Ministerial Formation

In September, the staff of the UK Baptist Colleges will gather for their annual conference.  This year, the members of staff who teach biblical studies have been given the task of planning the programme and we aim to help colleagues think through the place of biblical studies within the wider process of ministerial formation.

We want to begin by charting some of our own impressions of the ways in which the teaching and learning of biblical studies has changed in our institutions over the past 15 years or so, and I would be very interested to hear from readers of this blog who teach in similar or equivalent institutions, who might give some thought to the following questions and perhaps email me with your own thoughts:

1.  What have been the main changes that you have seen in the teaching and learning of biblical studies for those who are training for ordained ministry, in the following areas?:

  • the amount of curriculum time spent on biblical studies
  • the kinds of courses and modules being offered
  • the relationship between breadth and depth of coverage and textual engagement
  • the teaching of biblical languages (including comments about compulsion etc)
  • the overall ethos of biblical studies teaching in relation to wider course ethos (e.g. issues around biblical studies and theological reflection/contextual theology)
  • the effects of the shift to congregation-based models of training and formation
  • the use of learner centered pedagogy in teaching biblical studies (i.e. are we all still doing chalk and talk, or handout-lecture-any questions?)
  • the extent of engagement with hermeneutical issues in teaching: not least in relation to the historical-critical method (anyone still teaching form criticism?)
  • the relationship between critical and devotional approaches to biblical studies and how teaching enables the integration of both
  • anything else you can think of

2.  If you then wanted to offer your own assessment of the developments you have descrbed that would be really helpful.  Are they for the better?  What have we gained? lost?  What needs to be done better?

I am planning to write the draft of the opening presentation (including some observations based on the above in early August, so any comments should be with me by the end of July.  Many thanks.