DR: Praise God, I passed my New Testament class yesterday afternoon with an A- overall. Our final exam was rather difficult, as I myself and many friends in my class can attest. To give you a taste of the level of detail we were tested on: we were required to know which cities Paul traveled to on which of his missionary journeys (in what order), covering which chapters of the Book of Acts, and knowing what he did (and said!) on each of those journeys, and who he was with on each one...and that was just the Book of Acts, not to mention each of the four Gospels and the 22 other books and letters of the New Testament!
Internal dialogue at about 2:35pm Central Standard Time yesterday afternoon, in the midst of the test (loosely based on a true story, names withheld to protect the innocent): "(reading the test question to self) 'Question 15: Choose the best answer--oh, great, that's means there's more than one that's right...I hate these kinds of questions--the Apostle Paul enjoyed long, moonlit walks on the beach at: a) Ephesus, b) Jerusalem, c) Miletus--he went to Miletus? Where's that? I don't even know how to pronounce the city!--d) Malta, or e) a) and c) only.' Hey, that wasn't in the study guide! And who is Paul? And why do I need to know this, anyway?! Come, Lord Jesus, quickly! And bring Excedrin! And the answers to questions 3, 26, 12, 48, 23, 96, 14, 7, and 39 would be helpful, too."
OK, so they didn't ask us about Paul's moonlit walks, I must admit. And yes, I do know who Paul is, thankfully. But if there ever were such a question, I'd guess it would be d) Malta...because it's an island in the Mediterranean, presumably with lots of beaches...and it's where Paul, Luke, (and 274 other men--see Acts 27:37) were shipwrecked on the way to Rome...and where they stayed for three months (Acts 28:11)...and where Paul got bitten by a snake (on his left hand, some scholars suggest--see Acts 28:3 and footnote on 12.1b, subset 3, pg. 1245 in the Concordia Study Bible)...OK, OK, I'm a little tense. Still "downloading" all of my newly-acquired NT knowledge. Deep breath. The test is over. You passed. (end of positive self-talk)
I described this level of intense study to Stacye the other night--using our recent cross-country trip as an analogy--I said, "We just drove 2,100 miles, from California to St. Louis...just like I've read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation before. I knew that we stopped for gas and food occasionally along the way, just like I "knew about" Jesus' ministry in the four Gospels. But taking this New Testament class was like driving all the way to St. Louis and then having someone ask me, 'At what time, on what days, and at what gas stations did you stop? And other than 'needing gas,' what additional extenuating circumstances, if any, influenced your decision to stop each time (choose the best answer): was it a) your bladder suddenly threatened to exceed the size of the Grand Canyon, b) you had to get out, stretch, and wake up your be-hind (and in the process of doing so, the only thing you woke up was your daughter), c) the Holy Spirit moved you to do so, d) you couldn't resist taking a picture of the world's largest thermometer in Barstow, or e) all of the above.'"
Needless to say, there was a lot of detail on the New Testament final exam. [And by the way--for the record--we did not stop to take a picture of the world's largest thermometer in Barstow. Though a) and b) and--Lord only knows--perhaps c) were indeed reasons we stopped along the way.]
So, do I "know it all" now? Heavens no! But I do have a much richer and deeper understanding and appreciation of God's Word, after having spent an intense 4 weeks going through it, literally from Genesis to Revelation. (We covered all of Revelation in one hour, by the way. Can you say, "Deer in the headlights!?") My faithful classmates and I are all glad to have acquired so much new knowledge...and we're equally (if not more, if I am to tell the truth) pleased to have finished the classes!
We now move on to Greek. Truth be told, I am really looking forward to it, though I know it will be a lot of hard, intense, sweat-it-out kind of work. Starting in early September, I will be taking Greek full-time (the seminary doesn't let us take anything else concurrently, because they know it so intense and demanding on its own). I've been told we will have 2-3 hours in-class, Monday-Friday, and another 4-5 hours of intense homework each night for 10 weeks. Then starting just after Thanksgiving, we will take Hebrew--also full-time--for 15 weeks consecutively.
You're welcome to come visit me in the asylum afterwards. I'll be in the room with the padded walls.
These classes and exams may be difficult. But thank God for faith in Jesus Christ. We don't always have to know the answers in life, we just have to trust that He does. I just wish tests at the seminary were the same way.
Thanks for visiting our blog and for your continued support. We pray God's love and richest blessings for you and your family. Remember: God sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us. Why? Because He loves us, and by believing in Him, we can have eternal life in Heaven.
And in the end, that's the only answer that matters.