- The books of the Bible: their basic content, characters, etc.
- The historical order and approximate dates of events in the Bible (Noah, Abraham, Moses, David . . .)
- The basic genres of biblical books (poetry, history, prophecy, letter . . .)
- How to use a concordance and Bible references, maps, etc.
- The Apostle's Creed (Nicene, too)
- Basic familiarity with doctrines of the trinity, atonement, christology, etc. (at least Confirmation class level)
- The broad parameters of the history of the Christian Church, including some knowledge of the Holy Roman Empire, the Protestant Reformation, and the spread of Christianity to the Western Hemisphere, Africa and Asia.
Here is a short list of items seminary professors assume you know before you start your work. If you don't, you might want to learn them.
Every so often a person has a new experience that literally re-orients the pathways in their brain. These experiences can be disconcerting, but they provide valuable perspective and actually make the brain grow. Learning Greek felt like that to me - I swore I could feel the new crevices forming.
Last week I returned from a trip to Peru and that's how it felt: new food, cultures, schedules, languages, and the tidal wave of imagination that washed over me at Machu Picchu (and it wasn't just the abnormally heavy rains . . .). So much that was new, so much to learn, where to put it all??!!
Seminary is full of re-centering experiences. It requires a way to corral the flood of information. It requires new categories, new patterns, new ways to arrange ideas. In many ways the grid, or schema one creates for all of this is as critical as the information itself. Be careful and deliberate about the process. Use care and caution, love and wisdom as you select, integrate, and organize the new information and experiences.