Enforced Simplicity

Tuesday, I complained on Facebook about having only fifty minutes to lecture on 1 and 2 Corinthians. Now I should own up right away that the same mind (mine) that gave fifty minutes to lecture on twenty-nine chapters of tightly-woven theological argument gave the same fifty minutes for me to lecture through the four chapters of Philippians. So this morning, I bootlegged some extra 2 Corinthians into the first bit of my lecture class on Philippians. Problem ameliorated.
While I was prepping for these classes, though, I recognised a side benefit to the forced-march approach to lecturing on topics that I love so dearly: the requisite celerity with which I treat these topics obliges me to distill my account of them to the strongest concentrate. Starting out as a gospels-oriented New Testament teacher, and still firmly loyal to my main man Matthew (and his epistolary counterpart James), I’ve felt stronger and stronger kinship to Paul from having to represent the thrust of his letters in very compressed exposition. If someday I were able to focus my energies to clear off the backlog of writing obligations I’ve committed myself to (and working at an REF-governed institution provides strong motivation for such focus, if it does not always afford the fullest possible opportunity for it), I think I’d like to spend some time working on Paul. Of course, (a) that would mean reading things like the three recent mammoth volumes on Pauline theology (I’m think of Doug Campbell, Tom Wright, and Mike Gorman — though only Doug’s is truly gargantuan, it’s big enough to overflow onto the latter two and keep the average at “mammoth”); (b) I’d also love to venture into writing on Revelation; (c) way back before I even started doctoral work, Sue Jaeger always urged me to write a book about Hebrews, which is another text I love; (d) there’s all that early church theology about which I have things to say; (e) I haven’t written out a premises-to-consequences exposition of my hermeneutical theology yet, and I had a very encouraging talk with a publisher who would want dibs on it if I did so; (f) if I ever get my metaphorical desktop clear, I’d like to keep it that way for a while so I can write about things that pique my interest at the time; (g) I have in mind a sort of cartoon guide for finding one’s way into exegetical competency; (h) I enjoy loafing, too, so I want to reserve time to just hang around and unwind (perhaps playing Glitch!); (i) most important of all, time with my sweetie, who’s coming to Glasgow for a week starting tomorrow.
But anyway, I chafe at the limited time for expounding complex texts, but there’s an upside in the obligation to discern what’s most important to communicate. That’s what I noticed this morning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *