Understanding the Bible in the 21st Century Class

I have developed a six-week curriculum that covers the topics of the respective chapters of my book, Divine Scripture in Human Understanding (University of Notre Dame Press, 2019 hbk, 2022 pbk). So far I’ve offered it online twice (for St. Brendan’s Anglican in spring 2021, and an open invitation in winter 2021-22) and face-to-face once (for Crossings in summer 2022). I’d love to offer it to other folks, particularly to specific church communities (via Zoom or other digital option, or face-to-face for folks in the Knoxville area).

Below are some of the endorsements folks have given for the course:

“Dr. Gordon’s Bible course is challenging & intellectually honest. His lectures don’t give complete answers but confront the real nature of faith in a God who reveals himself to his people in paradoxes & defies human understanding. Highly recommended for anyone with a desire to embrace a more authentic faith.” —Ana P.

“I have taken, & continue to take, numerous classes about what the Bible ‘says.’  Your course was the first to address what the Bible ‘is’ & how it came to be in the form and compilation we know today. It gave me a new way of seeing & understanding scripture, in a different context, that helps me better appreciate the amazing, miraculous, timeless gift it truly is.”   —Geoff T.

“Excellent course! Intellectually rigorous, but allows room to breathe, ask questions, & seek truth together. The course is carefully designed to take you on a journey of the historical development of the Bible with an understanding of its contemporary relevance in the modern world.  Dr. Joe Gordon is articulate, caring, & inspiring. After this course, I am better equipped to think theologically about how to respond to the many issues facing today’s church & society. Life-changing course.” —Lisa L.

“Dr. Joseph Gordon presented a thoughtful, provocative, & ultimately inspiring course on Scripture to our community. He introduced historical & textual challenges but also provided a philosophical & theological framework for reading Scripture as inspired by God. Dr. Gordon presented difficult concepts in a way that the average layperson could understand. I was blessed by both the richness of the course as well as the attention he paid to the needs & understanding of the audience.”  —Rev. Doug Floyd

“I read Dr. Gordon’s book in the beginning of the year in 2021 & then to attend the class towards the end of the year was so enriching for a non-academic like me. The class helped solidify what I read in the book, understanding what scripture truly is, with all its nuances, what its content entails, its messy human history, redaction, & transmission. I loved how Dr. Gordon encouraged discussions & helped patiently answer my queries in the class. I would also like to thank Dr. Gordon for introducing me to Bernard Lonergan.” —Arun J.

“Dr. Gordon’s course on understanding Christian scriptures is worth your time. Sharing fruits from the very heart of his theological expertise, Dr. Gordon escorts his students into a depth of reflection on & with the Christian Bible rarely glimpsed. Students are ushered into an understanding of scripture that eschews both biblicism & reductive criticism (each with their smuggled assumptions), preferring instead the deep wells of the Christian tradition. Scripture is seen to be what it is (&, thus, isn’t) because of who God is (& isn’t). The holy book’s history is embraced as a part of its witness, rather than wielded (or feared) as a threat to its authority. Its work of revelation is made visible as the triune love of God, rather than cast as a magical answer booklet. Dr. Gordon equips his students with theologically faithful (& sophisticated, yet accessible) resources to support their ongoing ministry, study, & spiritual formation. Take this course.” —Rev. Tim Hahn

“Professor Gordon’s class is a wonderful experience in truth-telling about the nature of Scripture. Gordon offers a uniquely articulated position on Christian identity & its relationship to the Bible. By being honest about the history of the Bible’s composition, its reception, & material history, the course provides an ancient-new way of understanding the material origins & human activity within the words of the Bible, while still mysteriously holding to it as the Word of God. For anyone who struggles with the troublesome human aspects of biblical texts or its supposed divine source, this course (& the book on which it is based) will both rock you and comfort you. Any Christian seeking an honest assessment of a Christian perspective on the Bible should begin here.” —Rev. Caleb Gilmore

I recently attended Joe’s study on the Bible in the 21st century. I’ll admit after the first class I was a bit skeptical on if I would agree with his viewpoints in regard to the value and importance of Scripture and it’s role in a Christians life. That skepticism was short lived. I thoroughly enjoyed this fresh look at Scripture and how we can study and traverse it in our current world. I hated to see the 6 week course come to an end. I was challenged to study my beloved Scripture with a new set of eyes. —Kim H.

Dr. Joe Gordon addresses many of the questions I have been wrestling with regarding the place and function of Scripture in the life of the Church. Though Gordon’s book is a lofty academic contribution to the field of systematic theology, his teaching in this class is poignant and accessible to individuals in all walks of life. He exhibits genuine pastoral concern for the life of the Church, giving ample attention to the intersection between text and context; in other words, his teaching considers implications in localized faith communities. Our church has greatly benefited from his questions, answers, and guidance. —Rev. Brad Campbell

Week six (of six) at Crossings, July 20, 2022 (photo by Brad Campbell).