Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More about the Master's Program

Oct. 23. Greetings again from Cairo, Egypt. I want to say more about the Master's degree program here at the seminary. In particular, I wish to tell you more about the themes of the papers which the students write as part of earning a degree. Four second year students pictured earlier will spend the spring term of 2008 on this work. But first, a picture to introduce all of this. When Dr. Robert Smith who directs the ELCA effort in the Middle East visited here last month, we went the ancient section of Cairo, where this ruin of a Roman fortress and several early churches and a synagogue are located. Robert and the missionaries of the ELCA here in Cairo talked about our responsibility to "accompany" the peoples of this place and be prepared to learn from them as well as to share what we can with them.
....The first student, Sungmin, will write about the disappearance of the Nubian Christian church, following the conquest of Egypt and the destruction of this Roman fortess by the Muslims in the 7th century a.d. She will be using unpublished sources in an attempt to determine why this Christian community did not survive when others did.

....The second student, Nashat, will research the development of a Protestant Christian translation of the Bible into Arabic, which was done in the 19th century, and its adequacy for the mission of the church today. One of the ramification of the Arab conquest of this region was the gradual replacement of languages like Coptic in everyday life, and so if Christians wish to witness, it is in the common language of people in this part of the world.

....A third student, Magdy, will tell us about the impact of Protestant Christian missionaries who introduced programs of adult education and Sunday schools to the established Orthodox churches of this region. Part of the missionary effort from the United States and Europe beginning in the 19th century was to work within these established Christian communities, sharing new innovations for their ministries.
This second picture, showing the flight to Egypt of Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus to escape the slaughter of the young children in Bethlehem, is also from the site in old Cairo, traditionally held to be the temporary home of the holy family. There have been many stories of peoples fleeing persecution and warfare, and in our time none has been more tragic than the bloodshed in the Sudan which still continues after 30 years. I hear reports from Sudanese students at this seminary that when Christ is preached in the midst of that conflict, young people still come forward to commit their lives to Christ.
....Daniel, a student from the Sudan, is writing his thesis on the concept of suffering which St. Paul presents in his 2nd Letter to the Corinthians. It will have a special meaning and relevance for him, and for his people, and maybe for all of us. I will keep you informed about the progress of these papers.
Soon, I will write again, and give you more information about the Sudanese refugee community in Egypt. We have three ELCA missionaries working with them. More later. I am well and hope that you all are. Peace, Roger

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Graduate Program at ETSC

The Graduate Program at ETSC - OCTOBER 9, 2007 - Greetings again in the Lord's name from the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo! We have begun our fall term, and I want to tell you a little about the Graduate Studies program which I oversee. It was begun several years ago, primarily to train scholars who had finished their Master of Divinity degree and had some parish experience. This two year program includes classes (25 semester units over the period of a year and a half) and the writing of a thesis supervised by a member of the faculty. Recently the country of Norway has recognized the validity of this degree. While it is open to visiting students from Europe and America, it is designed mainly to provide a solid education foundation for teachers from Egypt and other Near East and African countries who will return to their countries. It also provides a way by which these graduates may move on to other seminaries and universities in Europe and the United States for Ph.D. work. Some are presently studying in the U.S. after completing their Master's degree here. The classes are taught in English.

The picture above shows Dr. Julius Scott, preparing to teach a course in the Intertestamental period (between the Old and New Testament times), and three Egyptian students. The second picture shows two male students from the Sudan, the woman on the left from a Baptist Seminary in Cairo, and a woman from Korea, who came to Egypt in missionary work a few years ago and was recently married to the man with his hand to his forehead. This man, a Presbyterian volunteer worker from the U.S., serves as the development director for the seminary among other things. He has been an invaluable help to me in my orientation, with his knowledge of the seminary and he speaks some Arabic! The seminary charges little for its courses and even with this many students depend on scholarships from home churches and other donors. You can e-mail me at rogerrab39@yahoo.com for more information about this.
Among with Dr. Scott, Paul Dilley, who is finishing his doctoral work at Yale, teaches classes this term in advanced Greek, the Coptic language, and a history course in Christianity in the Middle East up until the time of Islam. One foreign student from Norway is also taking a directed studies class from me on the history of the Christian Church in the Middle East from the beginning of Islam until 1800. (One of the field in my master's program long ago was on the history of Islam - though I never expect I would come to teach it here in Egypt). More about the topics the students have selected for their dissertations next time. As I close, I want to add my prayers for Doris Fletcher and the community of faith at Messiah, Pasadena, California. Wm. Robert Fletcher, along time devoted Christian in that place, died this past week. I had worked with him before coming to Egypt.
I am well and hope you are. You can respond to this blog or you can still reach me at my Yahoo e-mail address listed above. May God bless you. Roger Rogahn