Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Things I’m Learning In My Passage Class

On Sunday nights from 5-7 p.m. this fall, I’m going back to seminary.

At Good Shepherd Church.


Yeah, seminary at Good Shepherd. I’m in a class called Living Hope For Shattered Times taught by my friend Steve Klipowicz who is a professor at nearby Gordon-Conwell Seminary.

Living Hope focuses on a small sub-set of Old Testament books known as the post-exilic prophets. We’re gleaning history from Ezra and Nehemiah (history books) before diving into the prophecies of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

And I’m learning all kinds of things I never knew before. Or if I knew them, I just plain forgot between my own seminary education in the late 80s and Good Shepherd in 2010. So here are the top five things I’m learning:

5. That the Babylonian Exile (truthfully one of the central events in all the OT) took place in three major waves. All the exiles were not deported from Jerusalem to Babylon in 587 BC as I used to think; some were taken in 609 BC, others in 597, and then the third group in 587-6.

4. That the Babylonians took the Jewish intelligentsia as their captives. That’s why we read stories of brave and articulate captives such as Daniel, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego in Scripture.

3. That after the exile, the returning captives were no longer called Hebrews or Israelites but Jews.

2. That Ezra was the most likely editor of the section of the Psalms known as the Song of Ascents (Psalms 120-135).

1. That Ezra & Nehemiah were originally one book. Ditto for 1 & 2 Chronicles, 1 & 2 Kings, and 1 & 2 Samuel. The division into two books had to do with the length of the scrolls onto which ancient scribes made their copies . . . keeping all the original material in one scroll would have been too weighty for the wooden spools to support. Hardly a consideration in our day of Kindles and iPads.

There is much more I could tell you about my class. But we’ve only had two sessions and you can still learn from Dr. Klipowicz’s experience by emailing me at

I have connections, and I can get you in the class.