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Archive for the ‘Bible for Bluffers’ Category

Preaching the Bible

One of the key ways in which the Bible is actually is during church services, particularly with a sermon or homily. ‘Preaching’ can refer to both reciting scripture and to the exegesis on it. In denominations where preaching is seen as more important than the Eucharist preaching may take on a sacramental character. This means that it will typically be longer, more central to the service, and involve more personal discretion of the minister. Elsewhere, the big churches of Catholicism, Methodism, and Anglicanism share a liturgical devise called the Lectionary. This is a calendar of readings from the Bible which cycles every three years, each year based around a Synoptic Gospel– with John used on special occasions.

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Comparative Theology and the Annunciation

Representation of Mary receiving the Holy Spirit, in the presence of the angel Gabriel.

Comparative theology is just what it sounds like: a dialectic between two or more religions based on their doctrinal solutions to the great problems of human existence rather than on their external forms of organisation and worship etc. The easiest way to do some comparative theology is two find two religious texts that are writing about the same thing and assess the similarities and differences.

We did something very similar near the start of these sessions when we contrasted a Babylonian creation myth with the Old Testament ones. Here, near the end of these sessions, we are going to look at the Annunciation, the announcement to Mary the mother of Jesus that she is to have an important son.  We are going to read a couple of  pieces from the Muslim scripture (the Qur’an) alongside an account from the New Testament.

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Bible Translations

It’s takes a pretty large slip of the mind to forget that the Bible wasn’t written in our native language, yet the majority of Christians who aren’t scholars of the original text often forget to give enough weight to this fact. As the above graphic aims to demonstrate we should be aware that there are different types of translation. (more…)

Life Eternal

As mentioned previously, ‘Life Eternal’ (or equivalently Eternal Life) appears to take the place of the central motif of Jesus’ discourses in the Gospel of John, as opposed to ‘the Kingdom of God’ in the Synoptic Gospels. Jesus is also often spoken of as giving us new life in Paul’s Epistles.

To begin with, in terms of images and ideas:

  • What do you think of when you think of ‘heaven’?

  • What do you think of when you think of ‘eternal life’? (more…)

Genre in the Bible

In our previous session we looked at a medieval hermeneutic or way of reading the Bible, and I also mentioned one modern method, the historico-critical approach. Another modern method is ‘form criticism’ which focuses upon the diversity of forms or genres of writing. Since different genres tend to follow their own fixed forms they also have their own laws of style, and thus it is important for biblical criticism to make use of  literary techniques to appreciate this.

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Reading the Bible

The field of methods of interpreting and studying texts, particlurly religious ones, is called hermeneutics. The following method took the lead from how Paul’s epistles read Hebrew scripture in the light of Christ, but developed into a more systematic approach. One could partly explain it as ‘theological analysis deriving from lectio divina.’ This traditional fourfold hermeneutic is called the ‘Quadriga’ (more…)

The Ascension

In this session we explore the narrative of Jesus’ ascension into heaven. While reading the passage we asked: what ideas and thoughts about the belief in Jesus can you find in the imagery of this story? And what might the doctrine of the ascension be about?https://readingchaplaincy.wordpress.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gif

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