So when we say, ‘Mark’s going to teach a class on Genesis’, what does that look like? It’s a pretty big book – 50 chapters – how do you effectively cover it all in 10 class days at 4 hours each? Is it really so simple as to make sure you get through five chapters a day?
Looking carefully at the whole, Genesis is an important book to study because it talks a lot about beginnings. But if you jam all of that beginning stuff from chapters one through five – you have to stay on schedule you know – into one day and move on, the question stands, have you effectively talked about some pretty significant things?
This particular group will have not had studied Hebrew yet. (Lord willing, they’ll have it in a one-week session in January – we won’t go into the logistics of cramming any amount of Hebrew into one week…)
Not having Hebrew may not seem like a big deal, but being able to study Genesis in the original Hebrew enables the reader, in some ways, to have a clearer understanding of what Moses was saying.
For example, to say something very strongly in Hebrew is to say it three times, ‘holy, holy, holy.’ But saying it three times is to make it the maximum of that thing, sort of like ‘holy, More Holy, REALLY HOLY-THE HOLIEST!’ Not reading the Hebrew, a reader of a translation would not really feel that without help or additional notes. It’s merely a repetition.
Also, if you read the text in Hebrew, all of a sudden you know the meaning of everybody’s name. Adam means ‘man,’ Joseph means ‘being added to’, and Isaac means ‘laughter,’ which really underscores the story of Abraham and Sarah and their being astounded at having a child so late in life. cThere are a lot of other cool things, but I think you get the point.*
The class will be pretty small, all third year students, coming into Kiev for this two-week session. They’ll have Genesis in the afternoons, and will be immersed in Theology 3 in the mornings.
So back to the pacing of the book, Mark has decided to look at the whole in four chunks, chapters 1-3 covering those really big beginning things, chapters 4-11 looking at the genealogies – what they mean, and how they function, chapters 12-26 looking at Abraham’s life, and chapters 27-50, looking at the lives of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.
Mark loves it when his students ask questions, and as he often says, ‘I’d rather have them disagree with me than fall asleep.’ It gets to be a challenge to balance the questions with time remaining, but it’s a challenge he enjoys.
When the students walk away with a lot of questions, eager to dig even further, eager to share what they’ve learned, that’s what it means when we say, ‘Mark’s going to teach a class on Genesis.’
*If you’d like to know some more, just say so! We can start a conversation on facebook, or can trade emails. You’ll have tapped into something Mark really, really likes to talk about!