The Religious Education and Congregational Life Boards are delighted to announce a series of Bible study classes taught by our cherished member, Rev. Fred Berthold. Entitled “A Historical-Critical Look at the Bible”, the eight-week course will be held on Sunday afternoons from 4:00- 5:15, beginning on February 21st. The classes are open to all members of the congregation able to make the commitment to attend all eight sessions.
There are two recommended texts for the course, both available from Amazon.com The first is “A Brief Introduction to the New Testament” by Bart Ehrman (NY: Oxford University Press, 2004); and the second is “The Bible Unearthed”, by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2002). We will have copies of both books on reserve in the Hamilton Library, and will also accept requests for help in purchasing these books so that this expense is not a limiting factor.
Although he is known to many of us in the congregation, as well as countless generations of Dartmouth students and staff, and certainly those who have taken advantage of his ILEAD courses, a few biographical notes are pertinent: Fred completed his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth in 1945 and received his PhD in Religion from the University of Chicago. He joined the Dartmouth faculty in 1949 and became the first Dean of the Tucker Foundation (1957-1962). He was appointed the first Preston H. Kelsey Professor of Religion in 1971 and retired from the college in 1993. He and Laura have been members of the CCDC congregation since 2007.
Fred describes the course content thusly: “Looking at the bible with the help of modern historical-critical scholarship helps to understand the texts in the historical and cultural setting in which they were written. Thoughtful people are often, I believe, disturbed by passages which seem to reveal a warlike and tribalistically biased God. It helps to understand the historical context – and also to realize that within the bible itself some of the earlier “tribalistic” notions are repudiated and changed – chiefly by the great literary prophets.
“The sessions on the New Testament will raise the same questions raised by Albert Schweitzer in his epoch-making book, The Quest of the Historical Jesus. Those who think that the Bible is absolutely and wholly without error of any kind – every word, as it were, dictated by God, will not be happy with this course – will not, indeed, venture near it. But I believe that, all historical-critical issues considered, we will still be able to understand why the Bible has been of such an important influence in shaping what is best about our culture, and in pointing us to a reality that is worthy of our devotion and commitment.”
This class, obviously, is worthy of your commitment, and we are eager to have you consider it. We are very willing to offer child care to parents who need this to be able to attend. If you wish to register, please contact Kendra in the church office ( / 643-3150). If you have logistical/registration questions, contact Rob Grabill (robert.grabill@datrtmouth edu). And if you’d like to talk about course content, Fred would be happy to be in touch (). Thanks in advance to Fred for his willingness to share his gifts with us.