Eva Außermair



Fall: THE 205 – Biblical Tradition and Culture (3 credits)

How would you explain the content and approach of your course?

My course is called “Biblical Tradition and Culture”. The reason why this course is taught at UP has to do with the fact that UP, as a Catholic University, wants the students to get an idea about the basics of the Christian faith. My task is to give an introduction to the Bible and make the Bible and its various traditions more understandable.

What do you most enjoy about teaching UP students?

Teaching UP students is something extraordinary. The students’ attention, their sincerity, the discipline when writing tests – there is no cheating ever! – and the willingness for learning in general is amazing. They are eager to learn – and they want to get good grades!

What challenges do you see students facing in their studies in Salzburg?

Arriving in Salzburg in September students sometimes experience a “cultural shock” not only because of their new environment, but also in the class room. For example: the European way to teach is not the same as in the United States. Furthermore, the topics they have to deal with are for some of them so strange that they are afraid to get lost in the “sea of names” at the beginning of the courses.

What elements do you like to emphasize in your course? (eg: culture, history, tradition, etc.)

The first week of the term is set aside for the Geography of the Ancient Near East and the main facts of the history in this region. This is the backbone for all the other topics I will address. The understanding of the growth process of the Bible (from events in history to the book in front of us) helps a lot when reading Bible passages from different time periods. My main emphasis, however, is to help the students discover how the Bible speaks about God and the relationship between God and humanity.

What changes do you see occurring in students over the course of the semester?

There are many students who are not familiar with the Bible at all. They really start from zero when attending my class. At the end of the semester, especially when they do their presentation on the Psalms (there is always a Project with the Psalms!) I can say for certain: Well done. They have faced the challenge and won. That’s an obvious sign of maturity!

In what ways do students and professors learn from each other?

I hope that students learn from me, – and I know they do because of the results of the final oral exams. Nevertheless, I myself have also learned a lot form the students over the years. I still feel a sense of challenge to adept to the needs of the students, e.g. when I realize that they cannot follow my enthusiasm for the one or other very interesting detail (interesting for me!), I’ll change my lectures to find other ways to involve them and make them curious about the different aspects of the Bible. Therefore, teaching this course implies a continuous process of learning for both sides.