Rikk Watts is a full-time teacher at Regent College, and is known for his work on the Gospel of Mark and his book Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark. He wrote the 100,000 word contribution on Mark to Carson and Beale’s Commentary on the NT Use of the OT. He’s replacing Lane’s volume on Mark in the NICNT series. Word on the street says Watts’ writing two books titled Jesus and the Mighty Deeds of Yahweh (lecture here) and Heaven on Earth: an Introduction to the Christian Vision.
So I had the chance to review, not one of Watts’ books, but one of his classes. Maybe you’ve seen my posts about some of his musings in his class, but this was very unexpected. I don’t really know how many others have done this, and I think it was a first for Regent College too!
It only makes sense that Watts would have a class dedicated to Isaiah since he’s written all about how Mark uses Isaiah in his Gospel. How does Watts cover the whole book of Isaiah? Since there’s no way he can cover every verse, instead Watts covers the main ideas so that you can have “hooks” when you read through the book yourself.
An Outline of the class can be seen at the bottom of my post here.
Watts application was quite amazing. Isaiah is a difficult book for many. It’s long, it’s made up of different genres, and it’s old. How do we make sense of it all, better yet apply it to today? Watts skillfully brings to life the book of Isaiah showing how the unbelief of Israel then is the same unbelief people have today. What we trust in now is the same things people trusted in then. Better yet, the same God Israel served then is the same loving, faithful, and victorious God whom we serve now. Watts even talks about tipping at restaurants! That’s a topic I didn’t expect to hear about. Watts was talking about being a generous Christian, and to be honest, it was convicting. Watts shows how to be a good scholar while caring for the church body, both encouraging them and pressing them to show the world Christians are different.
With the class MP3s comes a PDF of Watts’ handouts to the class. This is a big plus because Watts doesn’t always have the time to cover all of his points and notes in class. He can’t cover every Scripture. He can’t trace out every detail. But, since his overall goal is to teach his class how to read Isaiah (by showing them how to see, read, and understand the themes of Isaiah), the listener is able to go deeper into his or her study of Isaiah. So while you might not go back and listen to these tracks every again (unlike looking for a page in a book), you’ll always have the PDF and will be able to spend as much time as you can afford to spend with it in Isaiah.
On the downside, the PDF seemed to be copied backwards. It was almost like reading the movie Memento. I would read three pages of Lecture Two, and then I’d have to go back a bit. And then I’d read three pages of Lecture Three, and I’d have to go back a bit. So on and so forth. Yet sometimes it is not even that easy, for the Lectures may be out of order (or duplicated). One class handout wasn’t even copied, making it even more difficult to pay attention because I didn’t know where Watts was nor what the specific point was. Also there was no handout for Isaiah chapter 1. While the PDF can be a chore at times, I’d much rather have a faulty PDF than no class notes at all.
Also, like with commentaries on Isaiah, much time is spent on authorship. However, I thought too much time was spent. While he gave a lot of good points, he could just as well have summarized his ideas and put the rest on the handout. The same goes with some ‘history of interpretation’ or ideas by different scholars at points which takes up a lot of time, not to mention rambling (which often times is really good and helped me write a few posts) which detracks from the class.
One should know that a university class is not a book. That seems obvious enough. But while one might devote a few hours or more to a book, a class this size demands about 30 hours. The upside to this is that the class isn’t finished as quickly as a book. The downside: once you’re finished listening, you probably won’t go through it again. While I’m naturally more inclined to buy a commentary (I’m not a good audible learner),Watts has given a good overview of the book so I can read it myself and a PDF that will last for a long time. And if you’re considering Regent College, take one of Watts’ classes, even if you don’t have to.
- Speaker: Rikk Watts
- Date: Fall 2007
- Length: 30h 18min
- Product-ID: RGDL3734S
(Sometimes these are on discount too at certain times of the year)
- 1 & 2 Samuel
- Biblical Exegesis
- Biblical Theology for Contemporary Christians
- God’s Faithful Character: The Key to the New Testament’s Use of the Old
- John’s Gospel: The Life of God to the World
- Life of Jesus
- Mark’s Gospel
- Matthew’s Gospel
- John’s Gospel
- The NT Use of the OT: What Were the NT Authors Up To?
RegentAudio also has some of Watts’ one-off lectures for $5 (or free!).
- The Major Prophet Isaiah
- Was Samson a Good Judge?
- The Virgin Birth in Isaiah
- The Virgin Birth in Matthew
- Isaiah’s Call: The Idolater’s Curse and Effect
- Isaiah’s Call: The Idolater’s Curse and Effect in the NT
- Does Paul Misquote Psalm 68?
- Warrior Armour in Ephesians 6
- I. Gold Nuggets in Isaiah
- II. Gold Nuggets in Isaiah
- III. Gold Nuggets in Isaiah
- IV. Gold Nuggets in Isaiah
[Special thanks to Kim and Bill at Regent College for allowing me to review this class!]