A religious studies course for public schools

Dr. Jim West thinks that "Bible courses in public schools simply are improper" and that "the same would be true" for public schools "to offer Qur'an courses or the like". I'll have to beg to differ with him on this issue, since I am in fact teaching a course in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam for high school students here in the grandly conservative state of Nebraska. The focus of the course is on comparing how Jews, Christians, and Muslims read their own and each others' scriptures, by engaging students in discussion of close readings of selected passages from the Tanakh, the New Testament, and the Qur'an in English translation. Of course, I do happen to be employed as a lecturer in Classics and Religious Studies at UN-L, and I am trained in historical studies in Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity at the University of Virginia, and the course is part of UN-L's "Advanced Scholars" program, which means it's for college credit, so maybe it doesn't really fit Dr. Jim's criteria for a public school Bible/Qur'an/the like course. But they are high school students, and we're not in church (or synagogue) (or mosque).

There . . . now I'm not sure whether I've challenged Dr. Jim West, or buddied up to him, but either way, this should make my blog more popular, right? (I learned this from Nick Norelli.)

And then, of course, there's that old saying,"Those who can, do; those who can't, teach", to which Woody Allen famously added, "And those who can't teach, teach gym" . . . or is that "Jim"?

Now I've done it . . .


What I'm teaching this semester

I'm excited (!) about what I'm teaching this semester! In addition to the perennial Classical Mythology course (I still do so love teaching on the other [= pagan] side of the aisle), I'm teaching

  • an "Advanced Scholars" distance learning course for (hopefully college-bound) high school students, on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, in which we will work through selected passages on similar subjects (e.g., Adam and Eve; Abraham, Isaac, and Ishmael; Mary and Jesus; law and grace; sin and salvation; prayer; gender; war and non-violence; etc.) in the Tanakh, the New Testament, and the Qur'an -- sort of a scripture-study triathlon; and

  • an upperclass Honors seminar that I've provocatively titled "Rewriting Moses: Jewish biblical interpretation in the time of Jesus", which is mainly an introduction to the study of methods of biblical exegesis in the works of Philo and Josephus, with special reference to their treatments of Genesis and Exodus, and with one eye on the NT and other more or less contemporary Jewish and Christian texts.

Did I mention that I'm also trying to put my dissertation on Sibylline Oracles 1-2 to bed this semester? AND stay married? Wish me luck!