She's really sweet...super boring. Class was hard to sit through if only because it felt like it went on forever. The reading material is good, but we hardly covered it in class. She's really nice about grading, but she is definitely in her own world sometimes. She cannot remember names of people who don't talk everyday, would discuss esoteric things that no one knew about, and would mention things in class that were neeeever used again. She's nice though, and if you do the work you'll do well. She usually gives a lot of days off too.
Really good! Can't speak for anything else, but he really knows his Bible. He's very nice, very enthusiastic, and really does have some fascinating insights into the topic. He's one of the most interesting grad. student teachers I've had. He's extremely friendly and tolerant of endless questions, and happy even to answer the annoying ones. Highly recommended!
I have to disagree with some of these negative reviews here. I came into this class with almost no background in Christianity other than random knowledge picked up from literature, art history, and popular culture. This was pretty much the first time I had ever read the Bible, and not only did I understand what was going on, I also found myself more and more fascinated by a text I'd always thought was irrelevant to my intellectual life. The previous poster seems to see Prof. Castelli's emphasis on historical context as some sort of a "debunking" project that works against theological interpretation. I, however, do not think her approach is nearly that reductive or simple. This culture is very much steeped in the intellectual traditions of different Christian theologies, so any reader will come to the Bible with countless unspoken assumptions about what the text is and how it is "supposed" to be interpreted. But a lot of these interpretive strategies are fairly modern inventions (like, for example, the Lutheran idea of "plain sense") and don't reflect how early Christian communities viewed these texts or how the writers of the New Testament interpreted the Hebrew Bible. I got the impression that Prof. Castelli's emphasis on historical context was not an attempt to discount the various theological readings that hold sway right now, but more of an attempt to get students to see that those readings are not the only possibilities that the text allows. And in a political context in which the Bible is so rhetorically influential, questioning the assumptions surrounding it is pretty important work. In the end, this class felt like the most politically relevant class I've taken in a long time. Some lectures, admittedly, were more interesting than others, but the New Testament actually makes for surprisingly exciting and interesting reading, and I do feel like I now have a fairly solid background in New Testament interpretation and the roots of Christian theologies. Prof. Castelli was fabulous to talk to in her office hours and really a very nice, friendly, approachable professor. So look- if you are a Christian, this class may very well challenge views that you might have thought were a given. But challenging is not at all the same as seeking to discredit, and isn't intellectual challenge what college is supposed to be about?
I came into the class expecting a focus on the New Testament as both a historical and a theological document & got only the former -- so was disappointed right from the start. That said, the historical focus itself was problematic. First, the scope was far too broad and anyone who didn't already know a lot about early Christianity was completely lost by the third class. Second, there was no coherent theme whatsoever throughout our reading of the New Testament except maybe the constant desire to prove the text not historically accurate. To add to this, Castelli had no control over the class and about half way through each session her lecture would be entirely derailed by some completely off-topic question. As a professor, Castelli is very nice & very boring and, above all, well-intentioned. Overall, I felt like I learned very little & was entirely baffled by a professor -- and a group of students, apparently -- who would rather talk about the ancient Greek derivatives of words than the theological significance of the New Testament, especially at a time when those theological ideas are of such influence in the country at large.
The above students are mistaken and idiotic. This is a gem of a professor. Intrigued, not partial! knowlegdeable, very approachable, and interested. I learned a great deal. At the very least, you read all of the New Testament with guidance, the Gospel of Thomas, the "Q," and parts of the Mishnah and Old Testament.
Ohhhhh man, biggest mistake not dropping this class the first day. Class is UNBEARABLE with idiotic commentary. Castelli is so obvious in asserting her feminist ideology that it's EMBARRASSING. There is no attempt at a straightforward reading. Classes are attended minimally. The room fills up for midterm and final which, out of the blue in such a joke-class, are very very difficult. No kidding, worst class I've taken in three years. DON'T DO IT!
I was unfortunate to have this woman teach me about Christianity and the New Testament. Not only was the class at 9 in the morning but Castelli is just not one of the best lecturers there is. I agree with the comment made - do bring a pillow to class because at least that way you will be comfortable while you sleep, that's if you make it to class. I dont feel that I learned anything and it wasnt because I didnt try. If you want to learn about Christianity try another professor.
Pathetically disappointing after a semester with the god also known as Robert Somerville. If you're so unfortunate as to miss the drop date, I recommend passing class time trying to decern Castelli's personal religious beliefs. You'll be as entertained as you're ever going to be. Don't forget that pillow!