Sunday, January 16, 2005

Bible Mysteries: Group Projects for My Intro Class

A few years ago I came up with this idea for group projects that I call Bible Mysteries. It has been very successful in getting students to present interesting material to their sections. Below is what I handout as guidelines:

Groups will have 10 minutes to present (do not read!) their mystery and solutions in class. Creativity is strongly encouraged. Presentations must involve at least two powerpoint slides loaded on the computer before class. After conducting preliminary research, the group must meet with Dr. Homan outside of class for discussion and relevant articles. One mystery will appear on the Midterm and Final Examinations, so these presentations need to be clear and correct, as they are valuable study guides. Please keep in contact with Professor Homan during your investigation to make sure you are on the right track. The objective of these mysteries is to enable students to problem-solve in groups, to differentiate between sound scholarship and crazy unsubstantiated ideas, and to explore the Bible’s profound impact on our world. Each group will do two mysteries evenly distributed (e.g. 1 & 7, 2 & 8, etc.). Presentations will be graded based on content, clarity, and ability to engage student interest.

Mystery One: In your English Bibles, there are three ways to write “lord”: LORD, Lord, and lord. What are the original Hebrew words for all three, what do these words mean in Hebrew, and why do the translators write “LORD” instead?
Mystery Two: Why does Michelangelo's famous sculpture of Moses depict him with horns?
Mystery Three: Why are Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles each divided into two books (e.g. 1 Samuel & 2 Samuel)? Why do some consider Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi all to be one book? Hint: Think scrolls.
Mystery Four: How does the judge Ehud kill Eglon, and how does Ehud escape?
Mystery Five: To what biblical passage does "Lord of the Flies" apply? Using textual criticism, what was the original passage? Why did they change it? Similarly, according to the Bible, Saul has a son named Ishbosheth. However, his name was not in fact Ishbosheth. What was his real name, who changed it, and why was the change made?
Mystery Six: What is the Ark of the Covenant, what was inside of it, and where is it?
Mystery Seven: Why did David Koresh, the leader of the Branch Davidians, take this name? What does Second Isaiah say about Cyrus and why?
Mystery Eight: Read Isaiah 7, an extremely influential prophecy for Christianity. In verse 14 it says either a young girl or a virgin will conceive. What is the issue here? Most scholars do not believe that Isaiah is knowingly predicting the birth of Jesus. What then is Isaiah talking about, and what is the Syro-Ephraimite War?
Mystery Nine: Using what you know of biblical parallelism, how would you punctuate Isaiah 40:3? A voice cries out in the wilderness prepare the way of Yahweh make straight in the desert a highway for our God. How do the authors of the New Testament get this wrong?
Mystery Ten: Describe the biblical concept of Sabbath for people and land. When and why did the Christian Sabbath move from Saturday to Sunday?
Mystery Eleven: Why is Christmas celebrated on December 25? Why do some scholars believe Jesus was born in the Spring? And why is 2004 actually somewhere between 1998 to 2000? Hint: this last question has to do with a man named Dennis the Little and his miscalculations of Augustus's reign.
Mystery Twelve: To what is the number 666 in reference, what is gematria, what is Armageddon, and why is the number 13 widely held to be unlucky?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

4. Lord of the Rings?
5. wha?

6:19 PM  

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