Monday, February 10, 2014

Early Christianity--Letters of Paul; Done

So for the last month I have been consumed with the letters of Paul. I signed up for Early Christinity course through HarvardX for free! It was definitely a unique learning experience for me, as I was taught by watching videos and annotating texts on rap and participating in discussions as part of my assignments.  I learned so much about Paul and of the time in which he was writing, but the most unexpected part of this class was how many ancient/ historical and contemporary texts outside of the NT writings we had to read. It was incredible! (I even shared some excerpts of those texts here and here). It enabled me to gain an understanding of the new testament that I probably would not have gained on my own study.

I mean I read 1 Corinthians at least 5 times in a 10 day span. Talk about delving deep. I read it searching for meaning for freedom and slavery. I reread it searching for the role of women. I read it yet again to gain an understanding of the value for wisdom in the 1st and 2nd century. I read its prescript. I read to evaluate Paul's use of rhetoric. I'm telling ya, I have read it in NIV, NABRV, NAB, and NRSV translations.

I would devote 6-8 hours of reading for a single class. Knowing that in 2 days, another 8 hours of reading would be assigned to me. I read from the deuterocanon. I read from disputed texts. I read from heretical texts. I read from Jewish histories. I read from Aristotle, Polybius, MLK Jr., and Josephus. I read and read and read.

And what did I gain from all this endless reading?

A deeper understanding of life in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE.
A respect for Paul and at the same time a disillusionment, in his teachings and in his message.

But most of all, I developed a yearning for the Word.

I'm telling ya, when the course started, I was overwhelmed with reading of all these letters. I was pushing through them-- carelessly annotating them with generalities and obvious observations from the texts. But as the weeks went on, I became used to the reading of these difficult ancient and biblical texts. Then toward the end, I couldn't wait for my next assignment. It was as if I were left empty until the next wave of readings were announced.

Now that the class is done, I'm searching my shelves for what to read next, but nothing jumps out at me. I know I want to read something spiritual, but I miss the community, and the discussions, and the forums, and the debates. I miss gaining knowledge not just from the professor but from the teaching fellows, from my peers, and from the research i did outside the class.

I want more.

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