Class Summary from Class #4 (9/6)

The class began with Peterson re-counting Aurora’s first writing. She chose Steve Job’s commencement speech as her “story that made a difference.” The ways that the speech connects the dots between love, loss and death showed her that everything that she’s goingthrough has happened for a reason and life tends to make more sense when looked at in hindsight. Also, while death scares her, recognizing that it will happen has been a catalyst for her to make big decisions. The class thought that her use of quotes lends to a good structure and positioned the speech in a way that made sense to the reader and was easy to follow. Dr. Albert also noted that the way that she said that she was nodding along while she was reading the speech is an interesting way of affirmation. Then, Connor attempted to have Lynn or Sean read their stories and Mason tried to read his story, but his laptop died.

So, Juanita volunteered. She talked about the memoir The Glass Castleand how it has made her feel inspired to publish something one day because of the way it was both cathartic and therapeutic for her to read and made her question things that she had previously thought. Another powerful aspect of reading the story for Juanita was the fact that she read it with her family and had somebody to talk to you about it with. The class thought that books with shared meanings are better, and Dr. Albert pointed out that it’s the same thing with Toni Morrison’s books that make you rethink things.

Dominic shared a different personal story about his sophomore year, which had a moral of getting help when you feel sick. The class discussed whether or not this was a valid response to the prompt. People said things ranging from “something you went through becomes a story” and  “by telling a personal story you give someone a piece of you” to “the fact that this was event  happened on Muhlenberg Campus made us as readers feel closer to the story.”Dr. Albert left us with a question “what is it about the word structure/ content of the story that makes you feel so close to it?” and we moved on. 

Then, we started talking about the piece “By the Letter ?/ Word for the Word?.”

We discussed Canon text, specifically the Bible. As an opener, we talked about our understanding of the piece and many people said that certain parts were confusing because they referenced unfamiliar texts. It also seemed unanimously agreed upon that prose was easier to understand than our pervious reading by Eliade. 

Then, we brainstormed a list of words that were important to the text, such as: Canon, translation, teachings-Torah, exclusive and inclusive decisions, authoritative, validity, language, evidence, and inspired.

Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that Canon is not a decision that is made through deliberations. It is a decision made by God, and which text he gives onto us. So, by studying what certain people believe to be canon, we are given insight into what stories are being told in certain periods of time and the norms and morality of the time. This allows us to better understand the group’s intentions- why they are doing the things that they are doing. 

Examples of Canon that we listed were: the 24 books of the Bible, the 22 books of the Bible, the Torah, and the Masoretic text.This led into a discussion about order and why it matters how it provides context and chronology, which diverged into a discussion about translation and the choices that translators make specifically about the Vulgate, which is the Latin translation of the Hebrew Bible, in which the church approved it as being translated correctly

This moved into a discussion about Qumram, the location of the dead sea scrolls, which were found about 50 years ago. They were from the time Jesus and show that many things about their canon were exactly the same as ours, but some are completely different from the cannons that we now embrace today. This allowed scholars with flimsy evidence the ability to use solid evidence to back up their claims. (aside: the scrolls were found buried under the sand and are not nicely ordered)

Other helpful terms from class: 

The New Testament is the Christian extension of the Bible

Apocrypha might look or feel biblical, but it is not biblical like the Maccabees 

We finished class with a quote from page 150 starting with “All the holy writing defile the hands.” This is an interesting section in the written down oral Torah in which the people talk about the collection of the written Torah. We didn’t have time to expand on that though and may return to it next class. 

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