Well. It's the end of the world as I know it. And the world isn't really ending. A whole new world is about to begin. But in just a few weeks, my seminary career is coming to an end. I'm quite emotional about it. These have been very important and transformational days for me. For our family. Since my days on the campus of Asbury Seminary are numbered, I'm feeling sentimental. So over the next few days and weeks, I'm going to share a little bit about my favorite classes at ATS. Granted, much of my growth has happened outside of the classroom, in chapel and in friendships and in conversations with peers. But the classroom has been a big part of the whole growth process, so that's where I'll start. I'm not really going in any particular order, except I kind of am. If I were doing a Top 10 list, then this first would be #10 on the list. Up there. But not all the way at the top. To give you an idea of how many classes I'm choosing from-- the Master of Divinity program at ATS is a 96 hour program. So approximately 35 (is that all?) total classes.
First up: Exegesis of Ephesians with Dr. Fred Long
exegesis: [ek-si-jee-sis] - noun. Critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of a text, esp. of the Bible.
I cannot believe I just said that this was one of my top classes. The reason I can't believe it, is because in the midst of it, this class caused me more anxiety than any other. More time and energy were spent on the assignments for this class than any other. This class kept me in the library, and away from my family, more than any other. Well. That I can remember, anyway. My brain has gone a bit fuzzy these past 4.5 years.
Part of the reason that this class was so hard, is because this was a class I took post-Eisley. When Eisley came along, that changed everything-- including the time I had to devote to homework, the amount of energy I had to give to my homework, and quite honestly, the desire I had to do homework. Let's face it. I'd have rather been at home, adoring her, than in the library, pouring over the Greek Bible and New Testament commentaries! My final exegesis paper weighed in at 69 pages long. It was a paper written on just 6 verses of Scripture. It was beautiful. I felt as though I had really accomplished something when I turned it in.
But more great than the sense of accomplishment, was what I learned. Dr. Long taught us an incredible method of Biblical exegesis. It is a very thorough and usable method of exegesis, that allows for real interaction with and interpretation of the Biblical text, in a way that requires you maintain the integrity of the text. There was no room for lazy, sloppy, or poor exegesis. The standard was high (as it should be, when it comes to matters of Biblical interpretation), but the method itself was so thorough, that if you did it well, it was almost impossible for the result to be a poor interpretation of what the text was really saying.
I am grateful for the methods I learned. But I am also grateful for the experience of having been a student of Dr. Long's. This is because Dr. Long, while incredibly brilliant, has a pastor's heart. He wasn't so caught up in academia, that he was unable to relate in a real and personal way to his students. We began our class sessions with a time of intercessory prayer for one another and for others. Dr. Long had an amazing way of remembering what each of his students had been asking prayer for over the course of the semester, and always followed up. He took a real interest in the lives of his students. I appreciate that.
I would recommend this class to any student considering it. I will give a warning, however: If you take this class, you will have to work harder than you may want to. But it will all be worth it in the end.