God Creates by Speaking Into the Chaos

God Creates by Speaking Into the Chaos

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Noted Old Testament scholar Brent Strawn to lecture at King University Oct. 19

Brent Strawn King Philosophy and Religion
Brent Strawn
King Philosophy and Religion

BRISTOL, Tenn. (Contributed by King University) – Author and professor Brent Strawn will present two lectures on the topic of “The Difference between the Right Word (of God) and Almost Right Word (of God): On the Nature of Holy Scripture” on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, as part of the King University Institute for Faith and Culture 2015-16 lecture series. The first lecture will take place at 9:15 a.m. in King University’s Memorial Chapel; the second lecture will begin at 7 p.m. at the King University Student Center Board Room. The events are co-sponsored by Bristol Herald Courier.

“We feel very fortunate to have Dr. Brent Strawn joining us for this year’s program of the King University Institute for Faith and Culture.” states Shannon Harris, interim director. “Dr. Strawn is a much sought after speaker, and agrees to limited engagements due to his busy schedule. If you are interested in the Bible’s relationship to our lives, then you will not want to miss Professor Strawn.”

The Rev. Dr. Brent Strawn is a professor of Old Testament at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., where he has taught since 2001. Dr. Strawn specializes in the Bible through its ancient and contemporary contexts. He is a prolific writer and popular speaker on ancient Near Eastern iconography, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Israelite religion, comparative Semitic philology, legal traditions of the Old Testament, and Old Testament theology.

Brent Strawn takes preaching and teaching the content of the Bible seriously. As he states, “Catchy series or kitschy themes designed to hook a congregation may do more harm than good if they don’t lead us into a deeper, more sustained knowledge of scripture, “the Book of God,” the one we should live our lives by. Less sermon illustrations from camp or the grocery store are in order, and more exegesis of the text called for—if, that is, we care about creating Christians who are fluent in what should be their native tongue, who know what to say when they are ‘on stage,’ as it were, because they’ve memorized their scripture.

“Religion and politics are two of the most important and interesting things to talk about,” Strawn says. “So much of the Bible is about sociopolitical realities.”

Strawn is editor-in-chief of “The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Law” (2014), editor of “The Bible and the Pursuit of Happiness” (2012), and co-editor of both the “Common English Bible” (2010) and “Psalms for Preaching and Worship: A Lectionary Commentary” (2009). He also is on the editorial board of the Catholic Biblical Quarterly and the Journal of Biblical Literature.
Strawn has appeared on CNN and Fox News Atlanta. He has published articles in journals such as The Asbury Theological Journal, The Journal of Biblical Literature, Perspectives in Religious Studies, Teaching Theology and Religion, Homiletic, Journal for Preachers, Journal of Theological Interpretation, Biblica, Theology Today, Revue Biblique, and Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha.

Strawn received his Bachelor of Arts from Point Loma Nazarene College and his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. both from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church (North Georgia Conference).

Brent Strawn will speak at 9:15 a.m. at King University’s Memorial Chapel on Monday, Oct. 19, and again at 7 p.m. at the King University Student Center Board Room. The events are open to the public and free to attend. Visit http://faithandculture.king.edu or contact Dr. Shannon Harris, interim director of the King University Institute for Faith and Culture at svharris@king.edu, 423-652-4836, or 423-747-3524 for additional information.

King Senior Erin Graybeal Presents Research on Teaching Religion: SECSOR

Erin Graybeal Don Michael Hudson King Philosophy and Religion
Erin Graybeal
Don Michael Hudson
King Philosophy and Religion


BRISTOL, Tenn., April 28, 2015 – King University senior Erin Graybeal recently presented “Teaching a Judeo-Christian Worldview to a Diverse Student Population” at the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion (SECSOR) Conference in Nashville, Tenn.

The SECSOR Conference brings together members of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature from the southeastern United States. The annual conference provides a setting for scholars in the academic study of religion, whether undergraduates, graduate students, or professors, to present and discuss ongoing research and to network with others in the region.

Graybeal will graduate from King in December with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, part of King’s Teacher Education program. She will be working towards her licensure in Elementary and Middle Grades Education. During the first semester of her freshman year, Graybeal took the first Foundations of Christian Thought and Practice course with Dr. Don Michael Hudson, associate professor of Religious Studies, chair of the Philosophy and Religion Department, and director of the King Tel Azekah Consortium.

“At the end of the semester, Dr. Hudson asked a few other students and me to come talk to him about the class,” said Graybeal. “I shared my ideas with him about what I liked about the class and provided suggestions on how some areas might be improved.”

As a result of their conversation, Dr. Hudson offered Graybeal a position as his student worker. She spent the next three and a half years working closely with Dr. Hudson to hone both the theoretical framework and practical application of the Foundations course.

One of the major features that had been implemented was the use of peer mentors along with the lecture material. “This was a good beginning, but the peer mentors were lacking organizational perspective and training,” said Graybeal. “I was very interested in providing input for the class and could see several possibilities for improvement. As an education major, I was learning how to teach at the same time that I was helping Dr. Hudson increase the rigor and relevance of the Foundations course. The ideas of pedagogy and development were fresh in my mind. As a millennial myself, I could advise Dr. Hudson on how students viewed his class and what could be improved.

Graybeal added, “Further, we wanted to ground all pedagogical changes in a theoretical framework. We discovered William G. Perry Jr., an expert in Educational Psychology, whose theoretical method models intellectual development in college students. We determined his model was most conducive and successful in teaching millennials.”

The Foundations course, at its inception, was a direct result of administration and faculty seeking to meet the needs of King’s quickly changing population while maintaining its heritage as a Presbyterian affiliated liberal arts school in the hills of Appalachia. With the school’s transition to NCAA Division II and the implementation of online degree programs, the student population of King was increasing in numbers and becoming more diverse. The Foundations course was created, in part, to teach an introduction to Judeo-Christianity within a faith tradition while being inclusive to this new generation of millennial students in a fashion to which they would not only relate but also with which they would become actively engaged.

Graybeal presented in the Teaching and Learning section of the conference. Her presentation, “Teaching a Judeo-Christian Worldview to a Diverse Student Population,” is a direct result of her work with Hudson.

“Erin and I have been developing this course for four years now. We worked together, and, utilizing feedback from other students, were able to take this course to the next level,” said Hudson.

He added, “It has been very important to have [Erin’s] input [on the Foundations course] because many professors teach in a top-down fashion. That doesn’t work well for millennials. It has been invaluable to bring in someone like Erin, who is a millennial, to listen to her about what does and what does not work. We have been successful with the course because we have tried new techniques and, after evaluating what works well, adjust each semester to provide a course that engages the students. This work is both unconventional and groundbreaking in not only what we are teaching but also how we are teaching it. ”

“It was an honor to present at the conference,” said Graybeal. “I was encouraged by their interest in my research. The Foundations course, on which my research is based, is the only one we have found operating on this model where you are teaching a large class and including group discussions, peer mentors who are paid, specialized workbooks, and thematic units. This teaching format is a novel idea that has now proven successful, and we want to share it with others. We are seeing results. We have students every semester who say this class has changed their lives.

Graybeal concluded, “If we can inspire somebody at a school that is looking for an answer to revitalize their program to train more people in careers for ministry and missions and social work and education, and so much more, then that is what we want to do.”