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This project began as a simple question put to a class of first-year students:“What do you think should be included in the curriculum of this Seminary to which youhave come to study?” Responses were listed on a blackboard and the classification was born. Months later, after much scanning of the “contents” pages of theologicaldictionaries, handbooks, journals and seminary syllabi, a fuller list was compiled of itemsidentified as important or worth including.Then came the problem of arranging the growing list of subjects. The classicalfour-fold grouping of BIBLE, DOCTRINE, HISTORY and PASTORALIA, is generallyconsidered today to lack a convincing rationale. Instead a way was sought to arrange thesubject matter in some kind of logical order that would bring everything together as arelated whole. (Note was taken of the current endeavour to re-discover the unity of
as the true basis for Seminary studies.)In the end, there emerged
eight fields of theological concern
, each relating tothe Christian Faith in some direct way, with a ninth section providing a catchall for other areas of study not directly related to Theology.Later reflection suggested that, if it were possible to arrange the subjects withineach field in such a way that each subject led naturally to the next, a
journeythrough the entire world of theological concern might be made with the minimum of jumping from one field to another.Since most theological study is supported by the reading of theological books,
the layoutof a Seminary Library.
Where this is so two advantages become apparent:
Students are able to find books on a particular subject more quickly becausethey are looking along shelves that follow an easily understood progression.2. For the Librarian cataloguing new accessions, the nine-fold division of fieldsretains the advantages of Dewey’s decimal classification system withoutrestricting the theological class to the
range of numbers. (Note: Periodicalsand comprehensive series of books can be put under
title/date/author.)In a few fields, notably those to do with CONTEXT, COMMUNICATION, andCHURCH HISTORY, detail is omitted. Also the emphasis given to a particular subjectmay not seem applicable to every situation. This is because local context will vary andgeneralisations are impossible. In any case
listing is bound to be subjective to agreater or lesser degree.This list is
scriptive rather than
scriptive. It is simply
a menu to consult
and from which to select according to agreed priorities. To include
subject listedhere in a working Seminary curriculum would no doubt take a lifetime to teach. May itrather inspire some teaching faculties to review their own curriculum more frequentlyand to ask questions about
the over-all balance
of their collective teaching!
PAUL BURGESS Gujranwala Theological Seminary, Pakistan January 1997 This list
has since been
in the light of a recent re-numbering of 2,000 of theSeminary Library’s more accessible theological books. The Progressive Classificationlisting was followed and various minor adjustments made.