Certification in Great Books

The College is pleased to announce a new certification program in Great Books. You can pursue the certification on your schedule, and the program is ideal for anyone desiring to learn the conversational, or Socratic, approach to reading and teaching the Great Books.

For more information, please see the certification program overview, description, and offering schedule, or inquire.

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Introduction to Great Books

Introduction to Great Books - If interested, please contact robert.woods@studyliberalarts.org.

Email robert.woods@studyliberalarts.org. Inquire for more information.

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Introduction to Great Books for 11th and 12th Graders (Home and Christian Schools)

Starting fall 2014, the Great Books Honors College at Faulkner University will be offering the following for qualified 11th or 12th graders:

  1. Introduction to Great Books (live and interactive) from the comfort of your home via Google hangouts for college credit (limited to 14 students per class).
  2. A classroom specially outfitted at Faulkner’s expense at select home and Christian school sites through which Faulkner will offer Introduction to Great Books for college credit at a significantly discounted rate of $500 per student (limited to 3 sites and 14 students at each site). Each classroom will be outfitted with around $1,200 in equipment, including a large screen television, a high-definition computer camera and microphone, a remote keyboard, and a Chromebox).
  3. The opportunity, with books provided at Faulkner’s expense, to join a live Honors College class via Google+ hangouts for college credit (limited to available seating).

Because Faulkner is fully SACS accredited, Introduction to Great Books should readily transfer as 3 hrs English or Humanities credit to any college or university.

If you have questions or suggestions, please contact the College Director, Robert Woods, at 334-303-8134, director@studyliberalarts.org, or Google+ hangouts.

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Conversational Learning

On September 7, 2013, faculty and students of Faulkner University’s Great Books Honors College participated in a colloquium about conversational learning. Before the colloquium, participants watched read selections from Mortimer Adler’s, How to Speak, How to Listen and Plato’s Republic. The College is grateful to those who participated in this event, a recording of which is below:

More information about Faulkner University’s Great Books Honors College and the Christian Institute for the Study of Liberal Arts is available on this website.

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Tempting a Hen to Play a Chick(en)

(Dominus Flevit Altar Mosaic; Photo credit: Tiuli.com)

In Matt 4:5–7; Luke 4:9–12, Jesus cites Deut 6:16 in response to his temptation at the temple. The full text there runs “you shall not test Yahweh, your God, as you tested him at Massah” (Deut 6:16; לא תנסו את־יהוה אלהיכם כאשר נסיתם במסה) and refers to Israel’s grumbling about their lack of water in Exod 17:1–7. In this narrative, Exodus reports that Moses “[] called the name of the place ‘Massah’ and ‘Meribah’ on account of the dispute of the sons of Israel and of their testing Yahweh, saying, ‘Is Yahweh in our midst or not?’” (Exod 17:7; ויקרא שם המקום מסה ומריבה על־ריב בני ישראל ועל נסתם את־יהוה לאמר היש יהוה בקרבנו אם־אין; cf. Num 20:2–13). Although this interpretation is Exodus’s own, Exodus does not directly narrate the people’s posing this question (Exod 17:1–6). Instead, they demand water from Moses and inquire whether lacking it indicates that they have been brought into the wilderness to die of thirst (Exod 17:2–3). Thus, the pericope’s interpretive conclusion seems to represent the recorded speech as tantamount to having asked the question “Is Yahweh in our midst or not?” (Exod 17:7; היש יהוה בקרבנו אם־אין).

When Jesus quotes Deut 6:16 to the devil, he quotes only the first part of the text about the inappropriateness of testing God and omits the direct reference to Massah (Matt 4:7; Luke 4:12). Yet, the connection with Massah apparently helps make Deut 6:16 an apt retort to the temptation in which the devil has taken Jesus to “the pinnacle of the temple” (Matt 4:5; Luke 4:9; τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦ). Once there, the devil urges Jesus to jump and trust Yahweh’s angels to catch him, in the words of Ps 91:11–12, “lest you should strike your foot on a stone” (Matt 4:6; Luke 4:11; μήποτε προσκόψῃς πρὸς λίθον τὸν πόδα σου).

Yahweh “will [indeed] command his angels” (τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ ἐντελεῖται), and they will indeed minister to Jesus (Matt 4:7, 11; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:10). Yet, Yahweh is himself one who does touch foot to stone: when Israel was at Massah, Yahweh said to Moses, “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb” (Exod 17:6; הנני עמד לפניך שם על־הצור בחרב).‭[1]

Thus, even as Jesus enacts what should have been Israel’s proper response of trusting Yahweh, so he also enacts Yahweh’s faithful care over his people.[2] In Ps 91:4, somewhat earlier than the devil’s quotation, the psalmist says Yahweh “will cover you with his pinion, and under his wings you will seek refuge” (באברתו יסך לך ותחת־כנפיו תחסה). In one respect, though much differently than the devil now suggests, Jesus is the properly trusting recipient of his Father’s care (Matt 4:6, 11; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:11). In another, Jesus is the hen that would gather her chicks to protect them—even at the cost of his own life—if they would but come under his “wings” (Matt 23:29–39; Luke 13:31–35; πτέρυγες).[3]


[1] Perhaps also in the background of this interchange is an exegetical tradition about Massah like that represented in Tg. Ps.-J. Exod 17:6: “Behold, I will stand before you there at the place where you saw the mark of the foot on the rock at Horeb” (Kaufman, Pseudo-Jonathan; האנא קאים קדמך תמן באתרא דתיחמי רושם ריגלא על טינרא בחורב). Thus, on the targumist’s reading, “the foot” (ריגלא) had apparently come into contact with “the rock at Horeb” (טינרא בחורב) with sufficient force to leave a “mark” (רושם).

[2] Cf. Augustine, Enarrat. Ps., 40.5 (Schaff, NPNF1, 8:121).

[3] Cf. Augustine, Enarrat. Ps., 91.5 (ibid., 8:447); Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 570–72.

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Saul 2.0

Pieter Lasman, “The Triumph of Mordechai”
(1624; Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In 1 Sam 15:3, Samuel commands Saul, the son of Kish, “Go, and strike Amalek, and devote to destruction everything that is his. Do not take pity on him, but kill man and woman, child and infant, ox and lamb, camel and donkey” (לך והכיתה את־עמלק והחרמתם את־כל־אשר־לו ולא תחמל עליו והמתה מאיש עד־אשה מעלל ועד־יונק משור ועד־שה מגמל ועד־חמור).‭[1]‬ Unfortunately, Saul’s subsequent engagement with the Amalekites heeded only Samuel’s order to “go and strike Amalek” (לך והכיתה את־עמלק).‭[2]‬ Saul “did devote to destruction” (החרים) the Amalekite people but captured alive Agag, the king.[3] Indeed, “Saul and the people had pity on Agag and on the best of the flock and the herd and their choice offspring, on the lambs, and on everything good, and they did not accept devoting them to destruction, but every despised and weak thing they devoted to destruction” (ויחמל שאול והעם על־אגג ועל־מיטב הצאן והבקר והמשנים ועל־הכרים ועל־כל־הטוב ולא אבו החרימם וכל־המלאכה נמבזה ונמס אתה החרימו).‭[4]‬ Thus, Saul becomes the object of Samuel’s ire and forfeits the continuation of his kingdom.[5]

The task of Agag’s execution then fell to Samuel to perform.[6] Yet, not even in this case was the army’s previously defective destruction of the Amalekites completed.[7] Rather, the people found themselves continuing to reap the fruits of this disobedience when “King Ahasuerus exalted Haman, son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, and he lifted him up, and he set him on his throne over all the officials who were with him” (גדל המלך אחשורוש את־המן בן־המדתא האגגי וינשאהו וישם את־כסאו מעל כל־השרים אשר אתו).‭[8]‬ Here too there was a descendant of Kish—Mordecai, by name—to oppose the Agagite.[9] Yet, in this case, the son of Kish does not fail to fulfill his charge thoroughly.[10]

After Esther exposes Haman’s plot to Ahasuerus, the king has Haman executed and commissions Mordecai to write as he pleases in behalf of the Jews defense on the still fixed day of destruction Haman had arranged.[11] Mordecai’s decree against the Jews’ attackers is similarly thorough to Haman’s against the Jews, permitting the Jews “to destroy and to kill and to exterminate any force of a people or province that oppressed them—small children and women—and to plunder their goods” (להשמיד ולהרג ולאבד את־כל־חיל עם ומדינה הצרים אתם טף ונשים ושללם לבוז).‭[12]‬ Carrying out Mordecai’s decree in the king’s name on Adar 13–14, the Jews decisively defeat those who assault them.[13] In contrast with the decree’s permission “to plunder” (לבוז),‭[14]‬ however, the mt three times directly denies that the Jews engaged in plunder.[15] This avoidance of plunder is consistent both in Susa itself[16] and “in the king’s provinces” (במדינות המלך).‭[17]‬ This consistency suggests that Mordecai’s message, circulated both in Susa and in the provinces, lies behind the Jews’ practice in this regard.[18] Hence, the various activities prescribed in Esth 8:11b would be subordinate to Mordecai’s primary instructions for the Jews “to assemble and to make a stand for their lives” (להקהל ולעמד על־נפשם).‭[19]‬ Because the Jews successfully repelled their attackers, there was no defensive value in the activity of plunder.[20]

In its three-fold affirmation that the Jews avoided plunder, the mt draws still a further contrast between Mordecai and Saul, who had found occasion to engage in plunder contrary to Samuel’s command.[21] Even so does the final “savior and constant benefactor” (σωτὴρ καὶ διὰ παντὸς εὐεργέτης)[22] obtain vindication for himself and his people over those who stand against them.[23] Nor yet does he himself even gather plunder but rather consistently commends “godliness with contentment” (ἡ εὐσέβεια μετὰ αὐταρκείας).[24]


[1] Jobes, “Esther 1,” 165; Phillips, “Mordecai,” 477; see also Exod 17:8–16; Deut 25:17–19; 1 Sam 9:1–2.

[2] 1 Sam 15:3; cf. Jobes, “Esther 1,” 165.

[3] 1 Sam 15:8; cf. ibid.; Phillips, “Mordecai,” 477.

[4] 1 Sam 15:9; cf. Jobes, “Esther 1,” 165; Koehler and Baumgartner, Lexicon, s.v. משנה, ‭§2‬.

[5] 1 Sam 15:10–31; Jobes, “Esther 1,” 165.

[6] 1 Sam 15:32–33.

[7] Cf. Phillips, “Mordecai,” 477.

[8] Esth 3:1; cf. Anderson, Old Testament, 505, 507; Childs, Old Testament as Scripture, 605; Jobes, “Esther 1,” 165; Phillips, “Mordecai,” 477; Walton, Matthews, and Chavalas, Old Testament, 486; see also Esth 3:10; 8:3, 5; 9:24.

[9] Esth 2:5; Anderson, Old Testament, 505; Childs, Old Testament as Scripture, 605; Jobes, “Esther 1,” 165; Keil, “Esther,” 208; Phillips, “Mordecai,” 477; Walton, Matthews, and Chavalas, Old Testament, 486.

[10] Jobes, “Esther 1,” 165.

[11] Esth 6:14–8:8; Walton, Matthews, and Chavalas, Old Testament, 490.

[12] Esth 8:11b; cf. Esth 3:13; Keil, “Esther,” 234; Walton, Matthews, and Chavalas, Old Testament, 490. On the phrase “small children and women” (טף ונשים) here, see Phillips, “Mordecai,” 480.

[13] Esth 8:8; 9:1–19.

[14] Esth 8:11.

[15] Esth 9:10, 15–16; Jobes, “Esther 1,” 165; Phillips, “Mordecai,” 480. The Greek versions, by contrast, tend to agree with the mt in the latter two cases (Esth 9:15–16) and to describe the Jews as engaging in plunder in the first instance (Esth 9:10). The Lucianic recension appears to recount a consistent engagement in plundering, and 108 suggests plundering at least in Esth 9:16. The Hexaplaric tradition omits any reference to plundering in Esth 9:16, whether affirmative or negative, and agrees with the mt in portraying the Jews as refraining from plunder in Esth 9:10, 15 (Hanhart et al., Septuaginta). For discussion of Esther’s Greek versions, see Jobes, “Esther 5.”

[16] Esth 9:6–10, 15.

[17] Esth 9:16.

[18] Cf. Jobes, “Esther 1,” 165.

[19] Esth 8:11a; cf. Phillips, “Mordecai,” 480.

[20] Keil, “Esther,” 234; cf. Phillips, “Mordecai,” 480.

[21] 1 Sam 15:9.

[22] Add Esth E:13.

[23] Cf. 1 Cor 15:20–28Col 2:8–15Rev 19:11–16; Aphrahat, Dem., 21.20 (Schaff and Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, 13:400); Jobes, “Esther 1,” 166, 168–69; see also Eissfeldt, Old Testament, 592; Jobes, “Esther 4,” 183.

[24] 1 Tim 6:6–10; cf. Matt 6:9–13Luke 11:2–412:13–21Heb 10:32–39.

Cross-posted from In the Text.

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Discussing Sam Harris and Richard Wilbur on Determinism

On July 13, 2013, faculty and students of Faulkner University’s Great Books Honors College participated in a colloquium about determinism as it is depicted by Sam Harris and Richard Wilbur. Before the colloquium, participants watched Sam Harris’s lecture at the 2012 Festival of Dangerous Ideas and read Richard Wilbur’s short story, “A Game of Catch.” The College is grateful to those who participated in this event, a recording of which is below:

More information about the colloquium is available on Google+, and more information about Faulkner University’s Great Books Honors College and the Christian Institute for the Study of Liberal Arts is available on this website.

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Grading and Evaluation in a Graduate or Doctoral Program

On May 4, 2013, several faculty and students of Faulkner University’s Great Books Honors College participated in a colloquium about grading and evaluation in a graduate or doctoral program. The College is grateful to those who participated in this event, an excerpted recording of which is below:

More information about the College’s MLitt and PhD programs is available on the website, and further information about the upcoming colloquium on determinism is available on Google+.

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Recording of Interview with Award-winning Author Andrew Klavan

On April 25, 2013, Dr. Robert Woods of Faulkner University’s Great Books Honors College interviewed acclaimed novelist Andrew Klavan in a Google+ hangout on about his young adult fiction and cultural interpretation. The College is sincerely grateful to Klavan for his participation in the interview, the recording of which is below:

For more information about Klavan, please see http://www.andrewklavan.com/ or his young-adult fiction available via Thomas Nelson.

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Interview with Andrew Klavan

Dr. Robert Woods will interview acclaimed novelist Andrew Klavan in a Google+ hangout on April 25th at 8:00 pm (CT) about his young adult fiction and how Andrew interprets culture. In addition, during the interview, questions will be taken from the Google+ audience. For more information about the interview, please see this event notice.

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