Tell us where you go from here. How do you plan to retain involvement with those participants who might make up part of your Personal Learning Network? What future projects and plans might motivate you to engage again the materials and methods of this course? You can be tentative or provisional about your plans, but be specific.

I am grateful for this opportunity to blog about some overarching ideas and understandings I have gleaned from this course and to put in writing some of my future plans regarding this course and its materials. I am the type of person who finds deep meaning in closure and I think this will be helpful in terms of putting closure on this semester and opening space for where to go next with this material.

I came to this class with little background in the Old Testament. I knew the major narratives, but this class has really shaped my understanding of how these materials came together and has challenged my notions of God based on the diversity of experiences and narratives we find in these texts. I was most challenged in this way by the material on the four sources (JEDP) we studied recently, and the diversity found in the conventional versus dissenting wisdom material we studied earlier in the semester.

The four-source theory helps make the book seem more feasible in terms of a historical account and in terms of the varying audiences the texts seem to address. I think this material will be very helpful in my future ministry in terms of my teaching roles as a pastor. Congregations often struggle with the apparent inconsistencies in biblical texts, and I feel that the varying sources has really helped me shed some of my embedded theology around this.

The conventional versus dissenting wisdom material we studied at the beginning of the semester really shaped my understanding of the Old Testament as a whole. The idea that diverse understandings of God, ranging from the Deuteronomist to the priestly class to the people in exile, has informed my own shaping and reshaping of what it means to be human in relationship to the divine. I find that this topic also helps me give some space for God to be presented as so angry and malicious (“rape” scene in Jeremiah 20, for example) and at times so full of steadfast love and faithfulness (some of the psalms, the Exodus 34 narrative, etc.). I think that the overarching idea must be that competing claims about God all hold some amount of “truth.”

Some of the Enduring Understandings from our course which shape my ongoing exploration include: “The Writings don’t represent doctrine, but experience…and experience varies,” “The past might not change, but histories change,” and “The ‘world behind the text’ differs substantively from the ‘world in the text.’” Something I would like to do this summer is to go through the Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions from this course in more depth and to write about where I have landed with some of them as a result of the course. I think this could be a very helpful resource for my preaching file.

I would also like to read the Bandstra text in more detail. I used the Stanley text this semester, and found it to be good, but I also want to get some broader background from the Bandstra text and other of the recommended resources that I did not get a chance to explore thoroughly. I am glad this is a free online resource and I will have the space to explore it in detail over the summer.

I have been grateful for the opportunity to engage in dialogue, games, and learning with my classmates, professor, and TA in ootle16, and I look forward to future conversation via e-mail, other online venues, and in person at Garrett-Evangelical for those who take classes there. Thanks to all of you for helping shape my thinking this semester and helping to bring the ancient historical texts to life in your words.