Sweaty palms. Lying awake late at night with anxiety. Setting the alarm extra early to not miss the appointment. With the level of excitability and unrest around Candler School of Theology this week, you’d think it was the first day of starting a new job or the day of the GRE or final exams. Students and even the Registrar’s Office tend become a little more hyped up on caffeine and adrenaline during Course Registration. Today marks the end of a week of registration for the 2008 spring semester at Candler School of Theology and a month of conversations around campus about what classes and professors to enroll in next semester. I may be exaggerating ever so slightly about the nervousness of the students during the registration process, but with so many creative and intellectually stimulating classes being offered in the spring, I can understand why it would be hard to narrow it down to a manageable schedule.

There are a variety of new classes that are being offered in the spring from each of our four areas of study: Biblical Studies, History and Interpretation of Christianity, Christianity and Culture, and Introductory Arts of Ministry. In Biblical Studies, Professor John Weaver, the Head of Public Services at Pitts Theology Library at Candler, will teach a new class called “Missions in the New Testament,” which will study the literary and social history of missions in the New Testament and the practices explicitly involving the New Testament in the global history of Christian missions up to the present. A primary goal of the course is to cultivate informed and discerning use of the Bible in contemporary missions. In addition to this new class, Registrar Trudy Blackmon is finding that Professor Carol Newsom’s class “The Wisdom Literature” is a popular one this registration season and will likely fill up. Dr. Newsom’s current research focuses on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Wisdom tradition, and apocalyptic literature. She is author of The Book of Job: A Contest of Moral Imaginations and she is the co-editor of the Women’s Bible Commentary.

History and Interpretation of Christianity also has a couple of very popular classes next semester. Professor Joy McDougall will teach “The Trinity, The Human Person, and the Christian Life.” This is an advanced seminar on classical and contemporary approaches to the doctrine of the Trinity and its implications for theological anthropology and the shape of the life of faith. Particular attention will be paid to contemporary proposals relating the doctrine to social and ethical issues that are challenging churches today.

Another highly popular class with a waiting list and full enrollment is Professor Ian McFarland’s class on “Sex, Sin, and Salvation: The Christian Doctrine of the Human Person.” This course examines some key themes in the topic of theological anthropology, with special emphasis on the diversity of ways in which Christians through the centuries have answered the question, “What does it mean to be human?” The material surveyed will pay particular attention to issues of gender identity, human sexuality, and original sin, since these topics have proven particularly important for the development of Christian reflection on human beings in the Western Christian churches; but attention is also given to the ways in which questions of race, ethnic identity, disability, and class have affected Christian understandings of personhood. I’m sure you can see why these classes are so wildly popular!

The area of study entitled Christianity and Culture is launching the largest amount of new classes this spring, including, “Spirituality and Liberative Pedagogy: U.S. Third World Feminists and Womanists Religious Practices of Healing,” with Professor Renee Harrison; “ Understanding Religion and Health in the Context of HIV,” with Professor John Blevins, which is also offered as a Pastoral Care class, and “Rastafari Religion,” with Professor Noel Erskine. Not only are these newly designed classes being offered, there are also several others in this area of study which have got students lining up for spots in the class. Both classes being offered by Professor Thomas Thangaraj are “sell outs” because this is his last year of teaching at Candler before retiring to his home in India; he has been a beloved professor here for many generations of students. He will teach “Images of Christ in World Christianity,” as well as “The Church’s Mission in a Pluralistic World.” Professor Liz Bounds is offering a one-credit class on “Skills in Conflict Transformation” that I have heard numerous students mentioning on their list of desired classes. Though some of these classes may be full before first year students are able to register, there are so many options that I believe each schedule will have depth and diversity of study.

We also have new classes in our Introductory Arts of Ministry area. Dr. Russell Richey, Professor of Church History and former Dean of Candler, will teach a new class called, “Evangelism and the Camp Meeting Movements in North America;” Professor Jimmie Abbington is teaching “Global Perspectives in Christian Worship;” and Professor Carol Lakey Hess will teach a new class on “Religious Education Through Fiction.” Dr. Hess’s class incorporates classic novels, including F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, as well as many other favorites.

What makes a class popular? Which classes get you most excited about theological education? If you were going to design a class, what would be its title and area of focus? Trudy Blackmon, Candler Registrar shares, “In the balance to meet the needs of two concurrent MDiv curriculums, it was exciting to see Candler produce a number of new courses for the upcoming semester that students have shown great interest in.” This is an exciting time to be in study, class, and reflection at Candler School of Theology.

If these classes sound appealing to you, we would love for you to make a campus visit to Candler to sit in on a class, attend chapel, and meet current students. You can register to visit campus by clicking here or email the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at candleradmissions@emory.edu. You can call us at 404.727.6326, or learn more about Candler on our website www.candler.emory.edu. Look for my profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology) and the Candler School of Theology Group at www.facebook.com.