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In December of 2009, I received a Masters of Divinity from Southern Seminary. Recently, as I was looking over my class list and the required credit hours for my MDiv years, I thought about the classes that I enjoyed the most. Each of them were so good that I would take them again. Here are my five favorites in no particular order.

Hermeneutics with Robert Plummer

Plummer’s new book, 40 Questions About Interpreting the Biblegives an overview of what we discussed in this class. I took Hermeneutics my first semester, and I’m glad I did. This class set the course for me to interpret the Bible carefully throughout the rest of my seminary education and during my initial years of preaching and teaching in a local church.

Ministry of Proclamation with Hershael York

Don’t let the fancy name fool you. This was a basic preaching class. Each student was required to preach in class while being evaluated by Dr. York and the other classmates. But what could have been an awkward situation turned out to be a very encouraging exercise. The ethos of the class valued faithfulness, excellence, and the desire to listen to the Lord speak to us through one another. Even more memorable than the preaching segments were the casual conversations with Dr. York that concerned life, family, and pastoral ministry. There’s nothing like taking a class from a professor who has the life and ministry experience to back up his theory.

The Sermon on the Mount with Jonathan Pennington

This was a January class in which we worked our way through the entire Sermon on the Mount in five days. Dr. Pennington began the class with some issues of interpretation. The rest of the time was spent discussing the text itself. The big project turned out to be very practical. We were asked to craft 12 sermon outlines from the Sermon on the Mount. I wound up doing 34 because I was planning to preach through the Sermon on the Mount on Wednesday nights. That teaching series lasted more than a year and culminated in my memorizing the Sermon on the Mount and then delivering it by memory at church.

The Reformation with Shawn Wright

What I remember most about this class was the enormous amount of reading and outlining required. I probably did more work for this one class than two or three other classes combined. The good news was that at the end of the semester, I had worked through all the historical research and come out with a deeper understanding of Reformation theology. Because this was a difficult class, there weren’t as many students willing to take it. The smaller class size fostered an open atmosphere for fascinating discussions. I came to appreciate the different theological emphases of the Reformers and the pastoral motivations behind the cultural movement.

Contemporary Theology with Greg Thornbury

This was a “J term” taught by visiting professor Greg Thornbury from Union University. The reading requirements bogged us down in some very difficult and dense work from postmodern thinkers. But the class conversations were spectacular. The main thing that I remember about Dr. Thornbury was his passion for the subject matter that he taught. That excitement rubs off on students, even when the subject matter is difficult to comprehend at times.

(Favorite visual: Dr. Thornbury – eyes closed tightly, totally engaged in his teaching, gesturing like crazy while kneeling on a swivel chair that continued to slowly turn until he was facing the whiteboard and not the class.)


Out of all the classes I took at Southern Seminary, I can’t think of one that wasn’t beneficial and enjoyable. I’m grateful for the educational opportunities God has given me, and I look back on all my seminary classes (but these in particular) with the fondest of memories.

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12 thoughts on “My 5 Favorite Seminary Classes”

  1. Jacob Bozarth says:

    Thanks for this post Trevin. Did you take Hermeneutics with Plummer online or on campus?

  2. Trevin Wax says:

    On campus. It was awesome!

  3. Jacob Bozarth says:

    Thanks! I hope to take his class. For us extension students you should post your top five online and J-Term classes :)

  4. Dan says:

    Great list. I got a similar degree from the same institution. I would also put the Plummer and York classes in my top five. The other three would probably be (in no particular order): Systematic Theology I with Bruce Ware; The Doctrine of Salvation with Russell Moore; and History of the Baptists with Greg Wills. And I’ll add one more even though it was really, really hard: Hebrew Composition with Russell Fuller. I love that guy.

  5. Great list. That’s the reason I have a dream to study at Southern. As you had this opportunity to watch all these terrific classes, I ask you to pray for me, as a Baptist Brazilian Bible College student, to have this privilege. I know it’s hard, but our God is greater than money and borders.

    In Christ,

    Felipe Prestes

  6. Tracy Irvin says:

    I agree. One of the best classes I took was Pennington’s Sermon on the Mount. It was hard though, working at UPS all night and watching those film clips in the dark! Great class though!

  7. Kelly Mikhailiuk says:

    Which semester did you take Hermeneutics with Dr. Plummer? We could have been in the same class! I took it in the fall of 2005. Since I only took 6 courses at SBTS before I got married and moved to Nashville, it’s hard to choose favorites, but your list makes me wish I could go back and finish my M.Div. there. I love your “visual” of Dr. Thornbury, too—I studied Theology at Union and that brought back fond memories of classes with him!

  8. Jesse Owens says:

    I took Contemporary Theology with Dr. Thornbury a couple of semesters ago, and it really was an incredible class. Black-rimmed glasses, bowtie, knee on the swivel chair, and discussing the Jugger-Kant. He’s such a unique guy and a wonderful teacher.

    Thanks for the post!

  9. Steve says:

    Great list.

    I, like Dan, would add Dr Ware’s ST 1. (And Dr Will’s History of the Baptist) I will until my dieing day remember Dr Ware talking about writing his own Systematic Theology. Then pausing and cracking that sideways smile and saying, “Bye, bye, Grudem!”

    Thanks Trevin, brought back good memories.

  10. Brett says:

    As a Southern student myself, all of my classes have been wonderful, but I can WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree, Dr. Plummer’s Hermeneutics class was fantastic and made a massive difference in my ministry.

  11. Scott Douglas says:

    Thanks for posting this link Trevin! I loved that SoM class with Pennington, think we might have had it at the same time? I took him for I think 4 classes at SBTS, his “3 Avenues” handout still shapes/influences how I come to the text.

    Like you said, it’s hard to pick a few from SBTS that were the most influential!

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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