BLST728 Hebrews: The Supremacy of Christ.
I took this course in the fall of 2015 at the same time as Greek Exegesis II, and enjoyed it immensely.
The course itself was informative. The content didn’t seem new once I got there, since I had been soaking up the commentaries for a couple of months before arriving. The best part was actually hearing the instructor’s stories and his pastoral heart as he applied passage after passage to his own life and the life of others. It was an exposition of Hebrews, passage by passage, spread out over a week.
A one-week modular class offered in the first week of December by a guest instructor from Dallas Theological Seminary, Dr. Stephen Bramer. I started the pre-course work when I had the syllabus in September.
Since this counted as a general New Testament elective, my classmates were a good cross section from the Seminary. Biblical studies majors, counselling students, pastors, people just starting Seminary (for one guy it was his first course), people in the middle of their program, people near the end of their program, a graduate returning for an audit as part of the school’s “Back to Briercrest” program, people younger than me fresh out of college, people older than me in retirement after decades of ministry, someone I actually went to college with, etc. Instead of being intimidated, I felt like I was in good company, and had some networking opportunities. I actually even met another MABLE student. We seem to be a rare breed. I think that makes 4 or 5 of us that I know of.
Pre-Course Assignments: (Value 30%)
1. Read the syllabus carefully and obtain the required textbooks.
That was easy. All I had to do was read the syllabus and order the textbooks. At least it should have been easy. But the textbooks kept changing and new versions of the syllabus came out. I think there were 3 versions of the syllabus.
2. Read the Book of Hebrews in three (3) different versions, preferably each version at a single sitting. (Value 10%)
I started working on this in September. I read one version a week. But while reading, I took notes for the synthetic chart. I went with a literal NASB, a dynamic NLT, and a mid-road NIV reading. Done by late September.
3. Develop a working Synthetic Chart for Hebrews that the student can bring to the
first day of class and modify (if necessary) as the exposition of Hebrews is
developed in class. This chart will be handed in post-course. An explanation of what
is required in this synthetic chart for Hebrews is found at the end of this syllabus.
Oddly enough, we didn’t have to hand this in. We had to have it ready for class, use it, modify it, and hand in the final copy for a post-course assignment. On the course website, we simply had to indicate “yes” or “no” if we did the pre-course chart. I made notes while reading Hebrews in three versions and continued making notes while reading the commentaries.
4. Become familiar with the material in your two course texts by reading
approximately 50% of the material. This material will be referred to in class and the
student should use these commentaries (as well as others) as he/she completes the
Mid-course assignment. (Value 10%)
There was a bit of confusion about the textbooks with different versions of the syllabus. A book was available, or not available, or maybe it is after all. The final version of the syllabus required Faith That Endures: A Practical Commentary on the Book of Hebrews, then gave an option of one out of two other commentaries. By then, it was too late, I had already acquired all three in an attempt to keep on top of things. The other two were the New American Commentary (NAC) and the NIV Application commentary. I read Faith that Endures and the NIV Application Commentary. 50% of the material meant about 330 pages of reading were required. During October and November, I read the 50% minimum (averaging about 100 pages a week, or 20 pages a day for 5 days a week- all while still taking notes for the synthetic chart and the in class presentation), then turned my attention to the synthetic chart and presentation assignments themselves. I had those assignments done by mid-November, however, and returned to the textbooks to read more. I finished Faith that Endures before the mod. I finished the NIV application commentary after the mod, before New Year’s. Certainly not required, but I liked the sense of “closure”. The NAC sits untouched on my shelf, and is now on my “after master” list.
Mid-Course Assignments: (Value 40%)
1. On the Friday of this course, each student will have 20 minutes to present a
researched topic to the class. An additional 10 minutes will be available for class
questions and discussion.
The syllabus had a list of topics to choose from, with instructions to email the professor with your top choices. I chose:
A list and explanation of the insights from the Greek text of Hebrews that are difficult to translate or notice in the English versions.
It seemed like this option was custom made for MABLE students like me. While reading the commentaries before the mod, I jotted down interesting insights.
On the first day of class, the instructor asked if anyone was ready for their presentation. I was the only one who raised my hand. I guess everyone else planned to spend time in the library in the evenings.
During the week, I had my Greek Bible open on the table in front of me, and followed along in Greek while various passages were being read. I continued to make notes for my presentation as I noticed more things.
The night before my presentation, I practiced my presentation out loud to make sure it was the right length. All was well.
The presentations were very interesting. Other students did topics such as outlining a sermon series, a presentation on the topic of “rest”, the Abrahamic Covenant in Hebrews, the Day of Atonement theme, discipleship of believers, using Hebrews in a counselling ministry, and using the book to witness to Muslims.
Post-Course Assignments: (Value 30%)
After a mod, there’s supposed to be two months to complete post-course work. But I knew I was going to be starting Advanced Greek Exegesis and Aramaic in January, so I made it my ambition to have everything for Hebrews finished by New Years.
1. Hand in a completed Synthetic Chart for Hebrews (updated, modified version of your pre-course assignment). (Value 10%)
I went over my notes from class, (which, I think, was the point), and did this within a week of getting home. It took an afternoon or two.
2. Hand in a 5-10 page report on “Five Most Important Contributions of the Book of Hebrews” from your perspective now that you have again studied this book. (Value 20%)
I wrote this paper in a couple of sittings, let it mellow a bit, went back and edited it, then had it handed in before Christmas.
Other comments about the course:
While at a church event in late August, someone was giving away some old cassette tapes. One of the things they had was a sermon series on the book of Hebrews. I had already registered for the course, so I grabbed the tapes and listened to several of the sermons in October when I had to take a road trip for work. This was helpful in increasing my understanding.
For work, I was asked to present a devotional at the beginning of a board meeting in late October. I chose a passage from Hebrews and used it to inspire us to push people on to maturity in their faith (among other things, BLF Canada encourages the use of devotional and Bible study material for the French world)