A friend of mine tutors theology and divinity students at the university. He teaches on the introduction to the bible and introduction to church history courses. And tends to be pretty scathing about the standards of students he sees. Part of this is the problem in the UK, where we specialise our students at 16 into three subjects, often they don’t match directly with university courses. So most students can’t do theology A level (they may do Religious Studies, which is somewhat different, but still isn’t available at lots of high-schools), so you can’t assume a theology undergraduate has even basic knowledge of the subject matter.
Still, even accounting for that, there are some really dense folks out there.
This week he reported a conversation with a student that went something like this:
Rev Dr (to seminar group): so can anyone give me an example of a character from history? [yes, really that basic].
Student: erm. Hitler?
Rev Dr: Yes, good. Hitler, so when did Hitler live?
Student: erm, sometime in the 17th or 18th century?
And in case you think that is about as low as you can go, he also tells the story of a student who shuffled up after a session and said “can I ask a question?”, “Certainly” says Rev Dr. “This third century business you keep talking about, what is that?”.
How do you start? Maybe with a big wallchart timeline from Jesus to the present day.