In years past, Bible professor Dr. Cliff Barbarick has sought to help his students understand the New Testament in a clear way.
Barbarick has had students work on group projects, assigned scriptures to be memorized and required class recitations. This year, he’s testing a new approach.
“One of my research interests is what’s called performance criticism… it’s rooted in the recognition that all of the New Testament writings were originally experienced as oral events,” Barbarick said.
His class, divided into five committees, will each head up an aspect of production. Committees include venue, directing, event hosting, advertising and graphic design.
In doing this, Barbarick hopes to set this event apart and make it special for both the students performing and those attending.
The class has 25 students and each student has, over the course of the semester, memorized roughly forty verses in the book of Mark. They plan to present the book in its entirety on October 17th at 6p.m. in the amphitheater. Barbarick hopes to align the sunset with the story of Jesus, with dusk falling as the crucifixion nears.
While memorizing such large portions of scripture at first seemed “pretty interesting,” the class soon embraced the chance to share Mark’s story said Myriam Gutierrez, a freshman mathematics major from San Antonio.
“I’m really proud of them, they’re all doing a great job… in this, in storytelling, you’re telling it in a way that’s natural to you, so we should see you up there telling us a story,” said Barbarick.
An unexpected benefit of approaching the gospel in this way is the recognition of motifs throughout the book. Students, through hearing phrases repeated and saying phrases aloud themselves, have been able to recognize similarities in Jesus’ healing stories, feeding stories and His crucifixion.
“This has been on the table since the beginning of the semester, so with a little bit of polishing, we should be ready to present,” said Savannah Rakovalis, a freshman nursing major from San Antonio.
The class prepares together, braving cold weather and many distractions, be they bird, cat, or Bird, to reach their common goal.
Though this is a different approach to Mark’s gospel, it will begin a new tradition for Dr. Barbarick’s class as they attempt to understand scripture as Jesus’ disciples did. With the promise of chapel credit, students can look forward to a night of hearing God’s Word in a new way.