Teaching the Bible in Culture: Identifying Room for Questions Unanswered

Students doing group work.

Prof. Newton reflects on his approach to teaching the Bible in a public university. Study religion and find out about the Bible in Culture here, part 1, and in future posts.

One of my aims in my Introduction to New Testament course is to lead students in thinking carefully about the actors and drama represented in the text. As Adele Reinhartz notes, when our explanations employ terms like “Pharisee,” “Jews,” “Samaritans,” or “Romans” too assuredly, we probably have more questions to ask about what’s at play. Just as a quick point of comparison, we wouldn’t be so cavalier using terms like “the Blacks,” “the liberals,” or “the South,” especially in mixed company, right? So what is to be gained by taking these ancient typecasts at face value and without qualification?

We spend a lot of time time complicating the idea of identity. In fact, using the comparison above, students seem to have little trouble recognizing the notion of sacrosanct identity as a politically-loaded packaging of what Jean Francois Bayart termed, “operational acts of identification.” But this takes practice. Part of thinking about the “applications and traditions” associated with New Testament texts is considering the work these terms do in various first century Mediterranean scenarios.

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The Adventures of Prof. Trost

Professors Trost (Religious Studies, New College), Summers (Modern Languages and Classics, Greece Initiative), and Roach (New College) near Thessaloniki, Greece.

As the weather gets colder, reminiscing on warm adventures becomes enticing. Last week, Prof. Ted Trost sat down to do just that — Taking a minute to share stories of his European travels from this past summer.

After years traversing the country and world for both business and pleasure, Dr. Trost settled in at The University of Alabama. Currently, he works with students in the Department of Religious Studies and New College.  Before working in academia though, Trost worked as a flight attendant for Pan-American World Airlines, prompting a life-long passion for travel. After 9 years of navigating airways, Prof. Trost has continued to explore new places, even spending a year on sabbatical in England. Most recently, he combined his academic work with globetrotting as he and his family took a trip across parts of Europe. Continue reading