This week's instalment of 5 questions comes from Einar Thomassen, who teaches one of the two introductory courses held in Rome. He forgot to mention under his expertise section his exemplary tour guiding skills!
1. Please state your name,age, university and connection to the RREprogram
Einar Thomassen, 60, University of Bergen. I have been involved in the programme from the planning stage and teaches in it regularly.
2. What is your area of expertise? and which courses do you teach in the RREprogram?
My main area of research has been ancient gnosticism and the Nag Hammadi Coptic texts. Branching out from there I have also worked on early Christianity and ancient religions generally. I also take an interest in Islam, which I have taught for more than 30 years; specific interests are Sufism and the Quran.
I teach (1) the introductory course on Religion and Society in the Ancient World (Rome course), (2) an Interaction course on Holy Scriptures, (3) a text course on the Quran. I also teach an introductory course in Coptic in Bergen, which is open to RRE students.
3. How do you find the this way of teaching, which is not regular university courses but also not distance learning?
I much prefer classroom teaching, where I can interact directly with the students. Distance learning is difficult for me, though it seems to work somehow.
4. What do you expect from your students?
Hard work, of course, but also curiosity and inquisitiveness: the impulse to look up references given in the texts you read, to discover by yourselves reference works in each area of knowledge, to identify the most important contributions on a topic, to use your local library avidly and intelligently.
5. If you could have any superhuman power, what would it be and why?
Multilocality, so that we did not have to do distance teaching.