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BLST 714 Psalms


I took this as an online class in the Fall of 2013.  It was the only class I took that semester, so was able to do extra reading.

Work Load: medium

Course Discussion/Participation (20%)

Each week, I had to log in to the course website and work through a number of video lectures.  This tended to vary in time committment.  Some weeks there was one video.  Other weeks there was 6 or even 11.  The videos themselves ranged in length from a few minutes to half an hour each.

As well, the teacher posted weekly discussion topics that we had to participate in.  I seem to remember that only a couple of us were very active in the discussion groups for this course, specifically those of us who were off campus.  There were full time students on campus taking the course, and I think they tended to be less active.

Course Reading (20%)

We had to read about 150 pages per week.  The reading could be done in any order at any time, and we had to turn in a reading report by the end of the semester.

  1. We had to read the entire book of Psalms 3 times.  I think I read it more than that (3 times in English, plus once in French and once in Hebrew, not counting reading individual Psalms again during commentary or other readings.)
  2. Read all four course textbooks:

Psalms: the Prayerbook of the Bible

Interpreting the Psalms: Issues and Approaches

The Lord Reigns

Interpreting the Psalms

3. Read 300 pages from “solid commentaries” on the Psalms.  Since I was off campus and didn’t have access to the library, I ended up acquiring the Word Biblical Commentary series for the Psalms.  I read volumes 20 and 21 in their entirety.

4. It was recommended we “read widely” in the course notes.  The professor had included a document of 108 pages of his own study notes on the Psalms.  I had time to read it all.

Hermeneutics Paper (15%)

This was a two stage assignment.  We had to articulate our hermeneutical approach to the book of Psalms.  Stage 1 was to send a draft to a peer, and exchange feedback.  Stage 2 was to send in a completed (5 page) paper.  We didn’t have to research much, but should show were were “benefitting from our reading”.  In other words, quote from whatever textbooks we’ve read so far.

Psalm Interpretation Paper (15%)

We had to write a 5 page commentary on an individual psalm.  I wrote on Psalm 127.

Research Paper (30%)

We had to write a 12 page reseach paper on a topic from the Psalms.  There was a list of possible topics in the syllabus if we needed ideas.  I wrote on the symbolism of Zion in the Psalms
Other Comments

Anyone who had at least a year of Hebrew under their belt were required to interact with Hebrew in their assignments.  I did so, and this is also the first time I used Aramaic in a research paper (I checked out the Targumim during my research)

I also was given the book How to Read the Psalms by Tremper Longman, so I took the time to read through it as well.

I added volume 19 of the Word Biblical Commentary to my After Master list of things I’d like to work through more one day.  I also felt like I wanted to “teach” through the Psalms as well, one psalm at a time.

Some of the lasting impressions that I got from this course are:

  1. the concept of praying through the Psalms.
  2. The “big picture” of the book of Psalms, and how the order of individual psalms relate to each other
  3. The concept of “The Lord Reigns” as a major theme in the Psalms
  4. Awareness of the “Zion symbolism” that I had delved into for my research paper.
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