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Introduction to Biblical Studies - Pre-Orientation Assignment

Brethren Academy Orientation August 9-12, 2012

Online Course Monday August 13 through Friday October 5, 2012

NOTE: This course is required for TRIM students, optional for EFSM students
TRIM and EFSM are programs of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership

This web page was last updated on 17 July 2012

Deadline for this Assignment

Please complete this assignment and EMail your answers to the instructor, Susan Jeffers, no later than Thursday morning, August 2. If you are not able to finish by then, or if you have any questions or concerns with the assignment (technical or otherwise), be sure to email the instructor, Susan Jeffers, at


The purpose of this course is to provide every incoming TRIM student with:
(1) the experience of successfully completing an online course,
(2) some exposure to the academic field known as Biblical Studies, and
(3) the opportunity to reflect on Brethren approaches to Scripture.

The purpose of this pre-Orientation assignment is to get you off to a good start, by making sure each student:
(1) has both of the required books when the course begins
(2) knows how to and has facilities available to use EMail, access the Internet, and log into the online course (using "Moodle")
(3) is well prepared to begin discussing the course content with your fellow students at Orientation
(4) has set aside sufficient time to complete the 8 weeks of the course (8-12 hours per week of quality time)

First - Order the two required books

You might be able to find the books on the shelf at a local commercial bookstore. You can also order the books from online booksellers such as or If you call local bookstores, be sure the books are the editions listed (same ISBN). Do NOT buy a different edition of the same book, as we will be referring to the material by page number and this will only work if everyone is "on the same page." Beware of special ordering the books from your local Christian bookstore unless they can guarantee prompt delivery. Most students have had quicker results ordering off the Internet or from a large-volume commercial bookstore.

(1) HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. You must have this specific edition - check the ISBN!

HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, Revised and Updated, Mark Allan Powell, General Editor, 2011, ISBN 9780061469060.

Read "canon" (pp. 118-120), "Jericho" (pp. 439-441), "Nazareth" (p. 691), and "Sheep" (pp. 947-948).

Note and try to look up any unfamiliar words in the Bible Dictionary itself, in the Glossary at the back of the Study Bible (below) or on the instructor's on-line Biblical Studies Glossary.

HarperCollins Bible Dictionary

(2) NRSV Study Bible. You must have this specific edition - check the ISBN, and make sure the cover matches the one pictured here.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha, Fully Revised Fourth Edition, ISBN 9780195289565.

Read "To the Reader" (pp. xv-xviii), "The Canons of the Bible" (Essays pp. 2185-2191), "Textual Criticism" (Essays pp. 2192-2197), and "Translation of the Bible into English" (Essays pp. 2197-2201).

Again, note and/or look up unfamiliar words. And be sure to check out the Glossary at the back of the book (p. 2269ff), in addition to using the instructor's on-line Biblical Studies Glossary.

New Oxford NRSV Study Bible

Second - Get started on the online reading; when your books arrive, read the assigned pages (above)

If you're new to the Internet, you should enlist the help of a friend, relative, or perhaps your local librarian, to help you learn what buttons to push when, how to use the mouse, and other such basic Internet skills. Better yet, see if you can find a free "Introduction to the Internet" course and get a complete overview! If you need help getting started, feel free to EMail Susan Jeffers, the course instructor,

(1) Review the detailed Course Objectives and Assessment page. You might want to print this page, as a reminder of the course requirements and how you will be evaluated.

(2) Study the content of the following two web pages:

Tips for Online Success and Glossary of Online Learning Terms

At Orientation you'll learn to use the online "courseware" called Moodle, and during the "computer lab" time you'll take a short quiz over the content of these two web pages.

(3) View "The Chronicler" Webcast " in which Church of the Brethren biblical scholars Bob Neff, Frank Ramirez and Steve Schweitzer discuss the biblical books of I and II Chronicles. If you're not familiar with these 2 Old Testament books, you might want to read the introduction in your NRSV first. As you watch and listen, make note of questions and points you might want to discuss later. To view the recorded webcast, scroll down and click on "View the recording."

(4) Print and study the first two pages of this document: Sounding Out Hebrew and Greek Words. If your computer is able to play audio files, you can also use these 4 to help you read along: Hebrew Alphabet ("Aleph-Bet"), Hebrew Names, Greek Alphabet, Greek Diphthongs. Then see whether you can sound out and understand any of the names on the third page. Bring these pages to Orientation with you and we'll have time to answer questions about them in the computer lab. Don't worry if you have difficulty with this part of the assignment; just give it a shot.

(5) Read through the Scholarly Terminology document, whose principles you will encounter in the course.

Third - EMail and Writing

EMail the instructor the answers to the following 9 questions, no later than Thursday morning, August 2. Send your answers as plain EMail, NOT as an attachment. You can send them all in one EMail or send several separate EMails as you go along. Again, if you need help figuring out what you're doing, feel free to call or email the instructor. Also, you can send a test EMail before typing in your answers if you're not sure how it all works.

(1) Do you have the specified NRSV Study Bible? Just to be sure, look up Psalm 23, Judith 1:1-7 and John 3:16, and the entry "Josephus" in the glossary, and tell me what page each is on.

(2) Do you have the specified Bible Dictionary? Just to be sure, look up "omega" and tell me what page it is on.

(3) Did you complete the assigned reading in your NRSV Study Bible and HarperCollins Bible Dictionary? What questions or comments do you have? Are there any words or concepts in the reading that you'd like help with? Be specific - questions and comments will be very important in this class. If you're wondering, probably someone else is too!

(4) Did you study the three web pages, "Tips for Online Success," "Glossary of Online Learning Terms," and "Course Objectives and Assessment"? What questions or comments do you have?

(5) Did you view the webcast "The Chronicler"? Briefly name three points the scholars made, about how the OT books of Chronicles fit in with the rest of the Bible.

(6) Bible dictionaries and other such resources typically state assertions or claims that pastors may accept at face value simply because they are "facts" from a respected source. In this course we'll be looking more closely at what sorts of evidence may lie behind such claims. We'll be especially interested in whether the evidence supporting an assertion is from within the Bible itself, as opposed to coming from extrabiblical sources such as other ancient documents or archaeological remains. Often we won't be able to tell, because the article will simply assert without stating the evidence.

Consider the three HarperCollins Bible Dictionary articles on Jericho, Nazareth, and sheep.
(a) Name at least 2 assertions from any of these 3 articles that are explicitly supported by reference to the Bible itself. Example: The "Sheep" article lists Exodus 29:22-25 in support of its assertion in the last sentence of the second paragraph (p. 947) that "the fat tail... was sometimes required as a sacrifice."
(b) Name at least 2 assertions from any of these 3 articles that are explicitly supported by reference to extrabiblical evidence, either archaeological remains or ancient texts outside the Bible. Example: The "Jericho" article, middle of the right column on p. 440, cites the opposing views of archaeologists Garstang and Kenyon based on 1930's archaeology, concerning "the date of the fall of Jericho."

(7) Use the Hebrew and Greek alphabet assignment above to sound out these two Hebrew names:
Hebrew Word #1 andHebrew Word #1

and to sound out these two Greek names:
Hebrew Word #1 andHebrew Word #1

What are the 4 names, in English?

(8) When you get home after Orientation, you will need to work on this course about 8-12 hours per week for the next 8 weeks, including an hour or two online several times during each week. Logging on daily is best, if you can manage it. What arrangements have you made to have adequate "quality time" and computer access to complete the 8 week online portion of this course after Orientation? Do you anticipate any problems with time and computer access? If you expect to need help using the Internet, what arrangements have you made to get such help?

(9) When you receive your Orientation packet, it should include a letter from the Seminary Computing Services folks at Bethany, with instructions on how to log into our online "Moodle" course. Follow the instructions, and log into our course at You'll know you're at our course when you see a message that says "Welcome to our online Introduction to Biblical Studies course!" and a blue link to "The Break Room" just below. If you have trouble logging in, please contact the Help Desk at Bethany (765-983-1568) directly for assistance.

Note: The first time you log on, Moodle may ask you for an "enrolment key" - if it does, type in the word "Bible" with a capital B but no quotes.

Once you're into our Moodle course, have a look around, edit your profile, make sure your email address is correct in your profile, and post a short introduction in the Break Room, but don't do any other posting until you're all together in the computer lab at Orientation. Any questions or comments?

Questions or concerns? Feel free to EMail Susan Jeffers at