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MTh(Bib. Studies)/Postgrad Dip Bib. Studies

Program components

The MTh(Bib. Studies):

  • a modular 30-credit program
  • may be completed in 3-3.5 years.

 

Modules

20 credits

Thesis
(Alternatively: 2 major papers, of 4 & 5 credits)

9 credits

Research skills workshop
(spread over several modules)

1 credits

TOTAL

30 credits

[One credit is equivalent to a minimum of 13-14 hours of classroom instruction and at least 20 hours outside of the classroom. However, for MTh programs there may be a smaller number of on-campus hours and more time expected to be given to assessable pre-campus and post-campus work.]

 

A. Modules

You complete modules for 20 credits of coursework. Generally, each module has a value of 2 credits, and an opportunity to request to complete extra work for a third credit.

In the text-based modules, the 2-credit component will assume the basic working knowledge of Hebrew or Greek; and the 3rd credit will focus more specifically on linguistic elements in the exegesis and exposition.

The overall composition of the coursework modules is this:

  • Approaches to Scripture module: All students must complete this for 2 credits (with an optional 3rd credit).
  • Contextualisation/hermeneutics module: All students must complete this for 2 credits (with an optional 3rd credit).
  • Biblical text-based modules: Students need to complete at least 8 credits of text-based modules. More are possible; indeed students who opt for the academic emphasis will likely complete 11-14 credits of text-based coursework. These modules will be taught as 2 credit courses, with an optional 3rd credit with a greater linguistic emphasis for those likely to use their qualification for seminary teaching.

    There are no core (= essential) text-based modules: you will be able to choose from the different areas of each testament:

    Old Testament
    • The Pentateuch
    • The History Books
    • The Writing Prophets
    • The Wisdom literature and Psalms
    New Testament
    • The Synoptic Gospels
    • John's writings
    • Paul's writings (Romans-Philemon)
    • Non-Pauline writing (Hebrews-Jude)

    However, students opting for an academic emphasis will need to complete 3-credit modules in at least three areas of their chosen testament.
  • Teaching biblical studies module: All students must complete this for 2 credits (with an optional 3rd credit). The module is designed to ensure graduates are able to convey the fruit of their learning in the program effectively to others.
  • A small range of elective modules may be offered. These may include study trips to the Middle East/Europe. Biblical theology may be offered as a 2 credit course (with an optional 3rd credit) in conjunction with our AGST Alliance MTh(Theol) program.


Pastoral or academic focus?

Students may opt for one of two emphases: the pastoral or the academic. Your choice will impact on the combination of modules you select, and the number of credits (2 or 3) each are completed for. Remember that, regardless of whether you opt for one or other of the emphases, you need to complete at least 8 credits of text-based module coursework.

Flexibility is possible - there is some scope to 'pick and mix' your coursework. We will encourage you to speak with the program director early in your program to plan an appropriate range of coursework modules to equip you best for your sphere of ministry.

  • Pastoral emphasis

If you are a leader in a church-based or Christian organisation setting looking to enhance your competence and confidence in using the Bible in your pastoral and leadership ministry, especially with your teaching and preaching responsibilities, this emphasis is likely to suit you. You will likely complete less text-based coursework, and place less emphasis on the biblical languages.

The Postgrad. Dip. Biblical Studies is well-suited to this emphasis also.

  • Academic emphasis

If you are undertaking this MTh(Bib. Studies) program to teach with confidence biblical courses in a Bible college/seminary, this emphasis will suit you. If you opt for this emphasis, you will give greater attention to text-based modules, and hone up your competence in the language of the testament(s) you wish to focus on.

Remember that if you plan to specialise in either Old Testament or New Testament, you need to complete at least three 3-credit text-based modules in your chosen testament - which will require the higher level of Hebrew or Greek.


Text-based modules content

Generally, the content of text-based modules will include:

  • The 2-credit core content:
    • Exegesis (with reference to the original language) of 6-8 chapters of the focus Bible book. [approx. 40% of the module content]
    • Background, themes and theology of the focus Bible book. [approx. 40% of the module content]
    • The wider biblical context of the focus Bible book. [approx. 20% of the module content]
    • Recent approaches to the book will be given some attention.
  • The 3rd credit:
    • Further interaction with issues in the book, with special reference to linguistic features. This third credit study requires greater competency in the appropriate biblical language.


Assessment for text-based modules will comprise:

  • For the 2-credit core content: approximately 50% for exegetical work on the focus Bible book and 50% on the themes/theology of the focus Bible book.
  • For the 3rd credit: an assignment which demonstrates a more detailed knowledge of the text in its biblical language.


A note about biblical languages

It is important for students to develop/use the biblical languages continuously, if they are going to be used effectively beyond the MTh(Bib. Studies) program - whether at the 'working knowledge' or more detailed level. So you will be encouraged to develop strategies to keep using the languages throughout your program, not simply solely in the 'biblical language modules'.

  • If you prefer a more general (Pastoral) emphasis for your MTh(Bib. Studies)

You will need to have a working knowledge of both biblical Hebrew and Greek.

'Working knowledge' will normally be based on documentation that shows you have completed two semester MDiv level courses in each of the languages. You will also be required to sit and pass tests to demonstrate your knowledge of these languages.

This language competence needs to be demonstrated before you commence a second text-based module in the testament of each language.

  • If you prefer the Academic emphasis for your MTh(Bib. Studies)

You will need to sit and pass a supervised pre-acceptance test in your nominated testament's language (OT Hebrew or NT Greek). This test will be based on a grammar book approved by the Biblical Studies Programs Director. This test needs to be passed before you commence a second text-based module in your nominated testament.

You will also need to have a working knowledge of the second biblical language. 'Working knowledge' will normally be based on documentation that shows you have completed the equivalent of two semester MDiv level courses in the language. You will also be required to sit and pass a test to demonstrate your knowledge of the language. This second language competence needs to be demonstrated before you commence a second text-based module in that language.

Students may complete any/all of the three core non-text based modules prior to having their status in the program confirmed.

Common grammar books in the two biblical languages which could be used as the basis for the pre-acceptance test include these:

Hebrew:
Kelley, Page H. Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar
Lambdin, Thomas O. An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew
Seow, C. L. A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew

Greek:
Dobson, John H. Learn New Testament Greek.
Mounce, William D. Basics of Biblical Greek: Grammar.

If you have another grammar book you would like to use, please confirm its suitability with the Biblical Studies Program Director.


Module delivery

Generally, modules span 4 months:

  • 6-7 weeks pre-campus preparation: reading and assignments.
  • 5-7 day on-campus intensive.
  • 6-7 weeks post-campus reading and assignments.


For text-based modules, you will generally be expected to have internet-based on-line interaction with the module facilitator before and (often) after the on-campus sessions.


Module timing

In general, the timing of the modules will be on this cycle (based on the program starting in May 2014):

Year Non-text based modules Text based modules On-campus sessions
OT NT
2014

May/Aug. Contextualisation/hermeneutics Area #1 - late June/early July
Sept./Dec. [elective or Israel/Turkey study trip] - Area #2 late Oct./early Nov.
2015
Jan./April
Approaches to Scripture Area #2 - late Feb./ early March
May/Aug. [elective or Israel/Turkey study trip] - Area #2 late June/early July
Sept./Dec. Teaching module Area #3 - late Oct./early Nov.
2016
Jan./April [elective or Israel/Turkey study trip] - Area #3 late Feb./ early March
May/Aug. Contextualisation/hermeneutics Area #4 - late June/early July
Sept./Dec. [elective] - Area #4 late Oct./early Nov.


Where two modules are offered in the same trimester, they will run consecutively - one week, a non-text-based module; and the next 5-7 days, a text based module.

Students may choose whether to take one or both of the consecutive modules.


Cross-credits for your MTh(Bib. Studies)

A maximum of 6 credits of coursework from other accredited institutions may replace AGST Alliance modules. Cross-credited courses need to be at the appropriate academic level and fit the focus of our AGST Alliance MTh(Bib. Studies).

 

B. Thesis/major papers

The thesis is designed to show that you are able to competently focus and integrate aspects of the program with your interests and planned vocation within the Asian context. It will demonstrate your ability to process course content and move beyond it.

Your thesis will require at least 6-8 months' work after you complete the modules. But you will not be alone - a supervisor will walk with you through the process.

An alternative to the thesis is to research and write two major papers. The decision on whether you complete a thesis or two major papers will be made in consultation with the Biblical Studies Programs Director. The expectations of the quality of your work will be similar to those for the thesis. The two papers will need to demonstrate the use of different methodologies.

AGST Alliance is concerned to 'train scholars and leaders for the Church and society in Asia'. In this light of this, you will be encouraged to integrate a contextual element into your thesis focus.

Note that the option to complete two major papers in lieu of a thesis should not be taken if you are contemplating doctoral studies sometime in the future. AGST Alliance and other institutions generally treat a non-thesis MTh as a 'terminal' degree.

The thesis/major papers research and writing may be started concurrent with the final coursework modules. Discuss this with the program director.

 

C. Research skills workshop

This workshop helps mature-age students feel less daunted as they get back into study. It is designed

  • To hone your reading and writing skills
  • To introduce you to research methods and resources
  • To help you use library and internet facilities well.


The workshop is spread over several modules and before the thesis/major papers phase of the program.

 

 

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