Gearing Up for BE101

Monday, August 22, 2016

BE101 – Bible Study Methods and Hermeneutics

Only one more week until class starts and I’m really itching to get going.  I’ve decided to do some preparatory work in advance of the course. Hopefully, a little time spent now will help me get the most out of the class when it actually begins.

While there's not too much I can do ahead of time, DTS provides two resources that allow me to get a jump on the upcoming semester.  First, they publish their course syllabi well in advance.  And second, they offer brief course previews that give students an idea of what to expect in their classes.  Today I’ll discuss how both of these items are helping me get ready.

Course Syllabus

As far as syllabi go, the BE101 syllabus is far more comprehensive than anything I received during my engineering studies.  It’s a full five pages and answers just about all the questions I have about what to expect.  I find this very encouraging.

Contained in the syllabus is a listing of course objectives, required textbooks, course requirements, grading scale, grading criteria, an outline of all fourteen modules in the course, the required readings for each module, and more.  I’ll share my thoughts on some of the syllabus items below.

Required Texts

There are three required textbooks for this course and I went ahead and ordered them from Amazon.  I know I could probably find the books for less if I hunted around, but I didn’t find the texts unreasonably priced and I wanted to order them as quickly as possible.  Here are the required books:

  1. Robert Traina, Methodical Bible Study
  2. Leland Ryken, How to Read the Bible as Literature
  3. Roy Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation

I received the books about six weeks ago and I’m just finishing up reading all three.  I plan on reading them again during the semester when required, but I thought it would be good to read ahead.  I don’t expect I’ll be able to do this for all my future courses, but for now, why not?

I'm surprised at how much I'm already learning via the course texts.  I'm just not used to that from my engineering studies where the learning came primarily from lectures and application.  For now, I’m beginning to learn about how much I don’t know.  For example, Traina talks specifically about observing the grammatical structure of biblical texts.  Yikes, I didn't realize I would have to relearn English grammar!  Needless to say, I’ve got some homework to do.

In general, I really enjoyed all three books and I think Zuck’s book was the easiest to read.

Grading Scale

The only thing I can mention at this point is that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of margin for error.  I want to do well in this class for many reasons.  I can see already that this will require a significant amount of discipline on my part.  I hope my engineering background has prepared me well in that area.

Grading Criteria

Imagine my joy to learn that I won’t have to deal with the stress of exams or quizzes in my first class.  This class is graded entirely on reading, video lecture attendance, learning activities, and class interaction.

I think this is probably the ideal kind of class to get my feet wet at DTS.  With everything else I’m going to have to learn as a new student, I can really just focus on doing the required work.


I’m really pleased to see that all fourteen modules (I’m assuming one module per week) are thoroughly outlined. I know what the topics are and what each required reading is.  There is a total of twelve learning activities, so I expect there will be roughly one per week.

Syllabus Conclusion

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the syllabus.  Obviously, I’ll be in a better position to discuss how well the syllabus prepared me for the course once I get a little closer to the end of the first semester.

Online Course Preview

I am very pleased that DTS provides a few lectures worth of video to preview all of its online courses.  By watching these videos, I can really gauge what I'm going to be doing during the semester.

What immediately stands out to me is the quality of the online platform.  There is a lot of information that is available to the user during each lecture.  There is a view of the professor, a view of the presentation material, and a transcription of the lecture.  When the class starts, I’ll also be able to download the course lecture text which will help with taking notes.

As for the course itself, and based only on this limited preview, it looks like the course is going to move at a fairly quick but comfortable pace.  Soon, I’ll develop a pseudo class schedule where I can put some specific time aside to focus on viewing the lessons.

From what I can see, the lectures are clear and easy to follow.  It’s also kind of cool to have the ability to pause and rewind the lectures.  I wish some of my engineering classes were like that!  It also appears that the lectures are well structured and organized so that there is definitely a steady flow of consistent thought.  Much like what you would expect in a normal class setting.

Interestingly, students on campus can also opt to take some online classes in addition to live classes.  I think this speaks to the confidence that DTS has in their learning environment in terms of delivering a high-quality course with the benefit of creating a flexible schedule.  That is comforting.

Online Course Preview Conclusion

Overall, the course preview gave me a solid background on what to expect in BE101.  I’m confident that I’ll have access to all the tools and information that I’ll need to position myself to be successful in my first course at DTS.

Final Thoughts

After reviewing the syllabus, textbooks, and the online previews, I’m pretty excited to get started.  No doubt that this will be a challenging course, but I’m also certain that I’ll be well on my way to accomplishing some of my goals through this class.  After all, that is why I am here.  To glorify God by growing in the knowledge of Him through His written word.

So how do I think I will do?  Who knows…  But I’ll do the best I can and trust that God will develop me through this experience.  I look forward to sharing my progress with you throughout the semester!

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