Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New Curriculum Review

By Dr. Benjamin Shaw
Associate Professor - Hebrew and Old Testament
Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Over the past two years, under the direction of the Board of Trustees, the Faculty at GPTS has reviewed the curriculum. There was some consideration given at the beginning of the process to perhaps move away from a four-year program to a three-year program. However, as the faculty reviewed course evaluations and exit interviews with graduates, we realized that such a move would not suit either the needs of our students or the needs of the Seminary. The result of the process was a re-vamping and fine-tuning of the curriculum, but with no change in the number of hours needed for graduation.

The primary changes made to the curriculum are as follows: In the Old Testament Department, Beginning Hebrew Exegesis has become Exegesis of Hebrew Narrative, while Advanced Hebrew Exegesis has become Exegesis of Hebrew Poetry and Prophecy. This is really a change in name to reflect more accurately the content of the courses. In the New testament Department, Greek Exegesis I focuses on the Gospels and Acts, whereas Greek Exegesis II deals with the Epistles and Revelation.

The Historical Theology Department remained untouched. In the Systematic Theology Department, the course that was formerly Ecclesiology & Polity has been divided. There is now a two-hour course entitled Ecclesiology. The polity portion of the course has been moved to the Applied Theology Department, and combined with the study of Robert's Rules of Order, and church offices under the name “Polity, Robert's Rules, and Church Offices.""

In Applied Theology, Christian Education and Evangelism have been combined into one course, and Missions has become a course in its own right. (In the previous Catalog, Evangelism & Missions were combined in one course separate from Christian Education.) Also in Applied Theology, we have added the course Reformed Spirituality, which will be taught by Dr. Carrick. The faculty considered that given the divergent views of “spirituality” in our day, such a class was necessary, particularly in helping our students in their own spiritual development.

Finally, two new courses have been added to the Apologetics & Ethics portion of the Curriculum. The first is Islam, which will be taught by Dr. Anees Zaka of Church Without Walls in Philadelphia. The faculty was strongly of the opinion that such a course, as a required course, is a necessary part of seminary training, considering our current situation. The second new course is Christianity and Its Competitors, which will be taught by Dr. McGoldrick. In essence, it is a critique of the cults, well-informed by church history as well as theology.

These changes, which have been approved by the Board, will go into effect with the Fall 2010 Semester, further strengthening what we believe to be already one of the strongest seminary curricula available.