From weeks 4-7 of each of the 6 main praxis courses in our MDIV curriculum (missional church, leadership, proclamation, worship, congregational spiritual formation, and congregational relationships), ministers in our program will do exegetical research on biblical passages related to a pastoral issue they chose to address in Week 3.
I recognize the value of highly concentrated biblical work. This iconic assignment regularly exercises the skills of our MDIV ministers in this area, along with other similar assignments that appear throughout the courses. However, I would dispute that the overwhelming majority of Bible classes at other seminaries locate such skills nearly as well in the context of ministry. And that is what an MDIV is supposed to be about.
Here is a look at what you/they will submit at the end of Week 7:
Integration Paper (up to 40 points for adequate completion)
a. In the third week of the course, you turned in a “Statement of Issue” to the professor in which you gave a situation requiring reflection by a person in a pastoral role. In the intervening three weeks, you have ideally selected biblical passages that relate to that issue. Then in theory you have brainstormed on the most likely original meaning of those passages given their immediate and broader literary contexts. Finally, last week you ideally began to explore historical background to those passages and have dipped into commentaries and other secondary resources about them.
b. The major assignment for this week is to organize your exegetical research on these passages and submit them. Your “chicken scratch” does not all have to be polished—you can even scan and send some notes in PDF form—but it should…
• Go passage by passage, including passages from both testaments and a cross-section of passages within testaments (i.e., not only material from Paul’s letters but from the gospels, etc…).
• Each passage should be addressed in three sections, finally in this order: 1) historical and socio-cultural background, 2) broader and immediate literary context, and 3) a polished conclusion on the original meaning of that passage.
• At the end of the assignment, you should have a summary of your results in total. At this point, don’t worry about joining the different passages to each other, creating a “biblical” position. That is part of the next stage.
• Although there is no official length of what you will turn in, it is hard to imagine that a good biblical investigation of relevant passages will turn out to be less than 10 pages of chicken scratch and conclusions, if you have done an adequate job.
c. Your work will be given to a Bible scholar who will look them over and give you and the professor feedback on the work. S/he will suggest a grade as a matter of feedback, although at this point the grade your professor will give is based on adequate completion of the assignment rather than quality of work. Then near the end of the course when you are formulating your pastoral response to the issue you have chosen, your professor will take into account then whether you have incorporated the feedback from the Bible scholar.
d. Criteria for feedback:
• Picks a cross-section of relevant passages from both testaments
• Does not confuse “that time” with “this time” in its exploration of the passages
• Makes good observations of the biblical texts themselves
• Reads the texts appropriately in the light of historical and socio-cultural background
• Engages commentaries and other secondary resources in relation to the passages
• Shows good reasoning in the conclusions it draws from each body of evidence
• Presents a good summary of the overall exegetical research
e. After you have assembled your work, submit this assignment to the professor by 11:59pm on Thursday night by following the Submission: Exegetical Research link in the Workshop 7 folder.