Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Doing Research in Egypt

Greetings from the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo. We are well into our fall term. One of the classes I am teaching is to help students identify and research the topic they will develop into a master's thesis in the last half of their second year. This involves using a book entitled: "The Craft of Research", by Wayne Booth. The course also helps to provide tips for the students as they study and write in English, a second language for each. Pictured here are some of the students and faculty who attended a recent "Scholar's Seminar", an opportunity to have faculty and students present "papers" which can be discussed and reviewed. Next week, the five students on their second year will present the "tentative" subject for their dissertations. We want them to demonstrate a knowledge of what they have learned in classes in Biblical Studies or Christianity in the Middle East, and then to make an original contribution to their field of research. This will analyse original sources and will also connect with an interest in their own lives and ministries. I will discuss these with you in a later blog.
Pictured to the right is a professor in Church History at the seminary, The Rev. Wageeb, who led the seminar on how to access resources on line from the United States. The seminary subscribes to a service called "ATLA" (the American Theological Library Association), which offers its users a way to review and download resources from hundreds on valuable periodicals produced over the last several years. It will be too costly for this or any seminary to order all of these and to store them. The Rev. Wageeb, who graduated from the master's program several years ago, is presently teaching at ETSC, and is pursuing his doctoral degree at the University of Birmingham in England. It is an important goal of the seminary to provide for the study of its Egyptian teachers aboard, so they can increase in their scholarship and teaching ability. The Presbyterian Church in America shares an objective with The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to train indigenous leaders and scholars so that they can assume more responsibility for the ministry of their churches. Missionaries from the United States seek to aid in this development and in effect want "to work themselves out of a job". We also will welcome the contributions to be made in the future by "non-western" scholars. The Rev, soon to be Doctor Wageeb, is one of these.

Hope all are well. Will write again soon.

Roger Rogahn

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

First week of school

Greetings again from the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo. We have just completed our first week of the Fall term. The first picture shows most of the first and second year students in the master's program, and the teacher from the Netherlands, Professor Jan deWit. The woman with blond hair (as you can imagine) is the visiting student from Norway. The stairs are at the front entrance of the administrative and classroom building of the seminary. The
classes will run until late December. Professor deWit is teaching a course on Isaiah, and I am teaching two classes, Christianity in the Middle East - III (1800 to the present) and a course which helps students with their research and in writing a dissertation during their second year. I will let you know soon what their topics will be.

In November and December we will welcome back a professor from Norway, Dr. Jan Opsal. He will bring some students with him and teach a course entitled: "Sharing the Same Prophets, Men in the Muslim and Christian Scriptures". It will examine the ways that five men, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, are portrayed in the Qur'an and Hadith, and in the Christian Bible. It should be as interesting and stimulating as the one he taught last January on the women of our traditions. I am also looking forward to teaching a class in January entitled: "Principles of Biblical Interpretation (Hermeneutics) in the 20th century". This will include a study of feminist interpretations, interpretations from Latin America "liberation" scholars, and what has come to be called: "Post-Colonial Hermeneutics", the writings of Middle Eastern, African and Asian Biblical scholars, who, while acknowledging their debt to European and American teachers, are developing their own "contextual" interpretations. Should be quite a challenge to teach.

The second picture shows the participants in the seminary retreat, which was held the week before school started. Its purposes were: to welcome new students, to renew friendship with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students, and to hear
about the summer practical experiences they had. In addition to the 4 years of study, divinity students at ETSC work each summer in a field assignment, and are also required to do one year of internship after graduation before being eligible for ordination in the Presbyterian Synod of the Nile. There is a great need here for pastor/developers, particularly in the rural ares where the Synod has land and buildings and small communities of faith, but no ordained leaders. I hope to be able to visit some of these ministry sites during this school year.

That is all for now. Hope you are well. Blessings, Roger Rogahn