Engaging Politics in the New Testament Classroom Excavating a Syllabus

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Christine Shepardson


Teaching the historical study of the New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Tennessee requires creativity, confidence, and compassion. The forty-person upper-level “Introduction to the New Testament” course that I teach every year is my most challenging and most pedagogically interesting class, and also the most rewarding. My goal in this class is to make space for a variety of responses to the material while teaching the context and history of the New Testament texts as well as how to think critically about the politics of their interpretation. The challenge is to take the diverse passions that my students bring to the class and help them all to engage together critically with both the historical study of early Christianity and the politics of its interpretation that are so visible in the world around them.

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