Professors add new religion course

The UNA spring schedule will include a new religion course called From Temple to Basilica.

Carl Gebhart, who is in his 12th year of teaching religion courses at UNA, will be teaming up with Tom Osborne to teach the course.

Gebhart said one of the reasons that religion is taught at UNA, a public university, is because it is impossible to separate religion from the history of governments.

“Religious developments and political developments, and changes in both, are each related to the other,” Gebhart said. “How do you study Rome without studying religion? That is the problem; we can’t, as much as modern Americans would want to separate them. They are actually historically inseparable.”

One of the biggest problems that people have with religion courses, Gebhart said, is the fact that many of the courses on campus assume the absence of religion.

“In our modern world, we have seen a lot of the violence pinned on religious fervor and, there again, you can’t separate religion from politics,” he said. “Sometimes firearms are the things that bond the two together — ironic, but it is the way it is.”

Gebhart said the uniqueness of the class is what makes it such an important class.

“We offer courses in Old Testament, New Testament and history, but what we hadn’t offered before was a block of history and traced all of the cultural religious strands of development at the same time, in the same course,” he said

The course will trace the religion, The course will trace the religion, culture and politics of Israel from about the time of the fall of the Temple in about A.D. 200 to about 400 B.C.

“I hope that one of the things that they bring away from (the class) is a clearer sense of the human fingerprint on what they have always considered to be sacred scripture, that the human involvement in the development of New Testament scripture is very present and very appropriate,” Gebhart said. “And out of that I hope they get a sense of comfort in the New Testament that will help them to discover answers to their pressing questions — meanings of life, whatever those are, for any individual.”

Gebhart, who had spent 40 years in the ministry, said the goal of the course is not to convert students from their own beliefs but to inform students.

“We have plenty of opinionated people; we have plenty of denominations; we have plenty of preachers like myself, who are all too willing to tell people what they are supposed think, believe and do,” Gebhart said. “But at some point we reach a point in our maturity when we have to make those decisions for ourselves and it is impossible, I think, to make good decisions if we don’t have good information.”

On a scale of one to 10, Gebhart said the class would be a high eight or low nine. There will be reading, classroom lessons, lectures, a term paper, new information the student will be tested on and the student will be expected to have a general knowledge of the Bible.