Prophets and Prophecy
The New England School of Theology – Fall 2011
Location and Time
Classes held at Trinity Church, 300 North Benson Road, Fairfield CT 06824
Saturday mornings, 9:00-11:30am (6 sessions starting Sept 17)
Scheduled to meet Sept 17, 24, Oct 1, 8 (Yom Kippur), 15, and 24
Ray Pennoyer, M.Div., Ph.D. (just Ray is fine)
Let me know if you have any questions or are experiencing difficulties!
Course Description and Objectives
This course will explore the fascinating and challenging topic of Biblical prophecy. “Prophecy” in the Bible encompasses everything from the early prophets Elijah and Elisha, classical “writing” prophets such as Amos and Isaiah, the apocalyptic visions contained in Daniel and the Book of Revelation, and the gift of prophecy in the New Testament. By the end of the course, students should find the prophets less strange, but more compelling and powerful.
The purpose of this course is to equip students with the concepts and tools needed to be faithful interpreters and teachers of this portion of Scripture. Two notes: Please note that this is not a “survey” course such as might introduce each prophet and provide an overview of that particular book. In fact, there are some prophets that we might not mention at all. Rather, the concepts we discuss are designed to provide you with the type of background that will enable you to continue on your own. Also, this is also not a course in which we will focus on charting the “end times,” though that is a subject which we will touch upon many times.
Available at Amazon.com and CBD.com
- You should bring a copy of the biblical text to every class session, and prepare to follow along according to the lecture/discussion.
- The choice of translation is yours. However, I recommend the NIV for your “in class” use. The reason is simply that I will be reading from the NIV most of the time, and if you have the same translation on your desk it may be easier for you to focus on the point at hand rather than wondering about translation equivalents.
Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. 3rd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003.
Heschel, Abraham J. The Prophets. NY: Harper & Row, 1962. There are various reprints available, sometimes broken up into volume 1 and volume 2. Just be sure to end up with the entire book.
Various handouts, some of which are itemized below
Not everyone is taking this class for credit. For me, this is really just a book keeping issue. If you are here it is because you are committed to learning this portion of the Scriptures. Whether you are taking this course for credit or not, I welcome your full participation in all course “requirements” – even the final exam! All the requirements are tools to help inspire you to learn this material and to make our time together as valuable as possible, and there are no second class citizens here.
Attendance and in-class participation
Attendance and participation is foundational for our progress together. If you must miss a class, try to give me some notice.
Readings and preparation for class
I plan 5 take-home exercises to be turned in at the next class. And this is the exercise:
For each chapter from Fee and Stuart or Heschel, answer the following:
Did you read this chapter? (circle one) YES NO PARTIALLY
Write about the two points from the reading that most impressed you / impacted you / surprised you – or – which have raised important questions in your mind.
Note: This does not have to be lengthy; however, you should express yourself clearly. Also, do not do this for the “recommended” readings for session 1.
Final “Exam” (take home and open book)
Handed out at the last class and to be turned in or e-mailed to me at a date to be determined.
What is NOT required: Agreeing with me on every point. It is expected, however, that you learn and grapple with the material.
Outline of Planned Classes
SUBJECT TO CHANGE! Be ready to make adjustments as necessary. If you miss a class, be sure to contact me or a fellow class member to find out if any changes have been made. “Readings” should be done in advance, except for those relating to Session 1 (naturally!).
Orientation to the Course
The Book of Jonah
Intelligence Report from Our Commander-In-Chief: Three Obstacles
“Getting the Lay of the Land”: Skills and Tools for Interpreting
What is the Bible? (Language and Canon)
Basics of Bible Interpretation (Exegesis and Hermeneutics)
Bible Translations and other Study Tools
Crash Course in History – The Context of Prophecy
Why history matters
The “Lay of the Land” literally: Maps
Overview of OT/NT History
Crash Course in Hebrew Poetry – The Classic Style of Prophecy
The Book of Jonah
Ray Pennoyer, “Understanding Hebrew Poetry” (in-class handout)
Fee & Stuart, ch. 1: Introduction: The Need to Interpret
Fee & Stuart, ch. 2: The Basic Tool: A Good Translation
What is a prophet? The call and role of OT Prophets
Prophets as Covenant Enforcement Mediators
Call of the Prophets
What it was like to receive messages
How the prophets presented their messages
Oracles & Collections
False Prophets and False Spirituality: Then and Now
“Call” Narratives in the Bible:
Moses: Exodus 3.1-4.17; Samuel: 1 Samuel 3; Elisha: 2 Kings 2.7-15; Amos 7.12-16a; Isaiah: Isaiah 6; Jeremiah: Jeremiah 1; Ezekiel: Ezekiel chs. 1.1-3.15.
Fee & Stuart, ch. 9: The Law(s): Covenant Stipulations for Israel
Fee & Stuart, ch10: The Prophets: Enforcing the Covenant in Israel
Ray Pennoyer, “Notes on Love in the Old Testament” 1993 (handout)
Note: Do not include my paper in your exercise.
Abraham Heschel, “What Manner of Man is a Prophet?” from The Prophets.
Amos, Habakkuk, Malachi
Abraham Heschel, “The Meaning and Mystery of Wrath” from The Prophets.
Abraham Heschel, “Amos” from The Prophets.
Daniel (with an orientation to Apocalyptic Literature)
Promises to David, the Line of David, and Prophecies of the Messiah
The “Suffering Servant” in Isaiah
Daniel 1, 2, 7
2 Samuel 7, Psalm 2, Isaiah 1:1-2:5; 5:1-7; ch. 11; ch. 40
“Suffering Servant” passages in Isaiah: 42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12
Abraham Heschel, “Religion of Sympathy” from The Prophets.
John the Baptist
Jesus as Prophet
“Call” of Jesus
Challenges to his contemporaries
The Olivet Discourse
Use of the OT in the NT/Misc. NT Prophecy (NT Eschatology)
Mathew chapters 1-4, 11 and 23-24
Fee & Stuart, ch. 7: The Gospels: One Story, Many Dimensions
Fee & Stuart, ch. 8: The Parables: Do You Get the Point?
Abraham Heschel, “An Examination of the Theory of Ecstasy” from The Prophets.
Book of Revelation
The Gift of Prophecy in the NT
When is something from the Holy Spirit? Some ideas
1 Corinthians 12-14
Fee & Stuart, ch. 13: The Revelation: Images of Judgment and Hope
Abraham Heschel, “Event and Experiences” from The Prophets.
Handout: Gordon Fee, “Those Controversial Gifts? The Spirit and the Charismata.” From Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), pp. 163-178.