Monthly Archives: May 2021

Sunday Worship at MtE – 30 May 2021

The worship service for Sunday 30 May 2021 can be viewed by clicking on the image below.

Other worship services can be found in the list below or at the MtE YouTube channel

30 May – That God does not exist

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Trinity Sunday
30/5/2021

Isaiah 6:1-8
Psalm 29
John 3:1-17


Our psalm, as we heard it this morning, began with a call to the ‘heavenly beings’ to ‘ascribe glory and strength’ to the God of Israel. There is an older translation, however, which runs like our call to worship this morning: ‘Ascribe to the Lord, you gods, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.’ Either translation can be justified, in part because many biblical scholars believe that the psalm is probably borrowed from one of the neighbouring polytheistic religions and pressed into service for Israel its God.

This older translation perhaps jars with the sensitivities of believers today, for we’ve long held that there is only one God. We have understood that there has been a progression from a polytheism (the belief in many gods) to henotheism (the belief in only one god, among many options), to monotheism (the belief that there is only one god – not least because it is a nice neat philosophical idea. And so it seems odd now to speak again about ‘the gods’. Yet perhaps it’s time to take up once again talk of a pantheon – a field of many gods. The reason is, perhaps surprisingly, the rise of the current form of popular atheism.

The basic assertion of popular atheism is, of course, simply that ‘there is no God, God does not exist’. But what, in the first place, could we mean if we declare that ‘God does exist’ or that ‘God is’? Our the first problem here is the word ‘is’. We say ‘is’ about ourselves and other things in the world: that chair ‘is’; that man ‘is’, that tree ‘is’. These things ‘are’ or ‘exist’. ‘Isness’ is a characteristic or property of stuff lying around the place in the world. To say then that God ‘is’ – that God ‘exists’ – is to reduce God to being an object like a chair or a man or a tree, somehow also lying around the place in the world. Atheism observes that we can’t find God anywhere in the world, and concludes that God does not exist.

The logic is impeccable, on the assumption that God is a part of the world – that God ‘exists’. Perhaps surprisingly, however, faith also holds that God does not exist in this way. God is not a ‘part’ of the world, not even the biggest thing in the world. The doctrine of creation recognises that God and the world are related but also that they are different. There is, of course, much difference within the world but the difference between God and the world is a ‘different difference’ from every other difference and distinction we see around us. The difference between God’s ‘is-ness’ and our ‘is-ness’ is so great that it is most simply expressed by saying that God does not ‘exist’.

But see that this is said not at all to deny God but that we might give God right praise – that we might know at least what can’t be said about the God who matters.

If we were, as a matter of definition, to insist that God does ‘exist’, we would then have to say that there’s a very important sense in which we do not exist. None of this is to say that God or we don’t matter, but only that questions and assertions about God’s existence won’t get us anywhere very interesting. The existence of God is not a question which ought to exercise us too much one way or another,  because it is a question which is usually too confused to admit a sensible answer. From the point of view of Jewish and Christian faith, to say that God does not exist would simply be to say that, however God is, God is not like we are, which is simply the logic of a sensible doctrine of creation.

Of course, we wonder about the existence of God because many Christians (and other theists) do assume that God’s existence is central to belief – we assume that faith is faith that God exists, and that God exists as an explanation of ‘all that is’. Yet talk about God would do well to take the lead of the older translation of Psalm 29 with its many ‘gods’, and begin to speak again of a pantheon. For the question of the Scriptures is not whether God exists. Rather, the Scriptures are always interested in which god matters, and not whether there ‘is’ a God, or how many gods there are.

To make more sense of this, there’s one more thing to note about our use of the word ‘God’, which is that we use it in a double sense, sometimes to denote a kind of thing and sometimes as a name. This is a little like the words ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’. A child knows that everyone has a ‘mummy’, but when he addresses his mother the word mummy is not a thing everyone has but the name of his mother. There are many mummies, but we only call one of them ‘Mummy’. It is much the same for the word ‘God’. In the Scriptures there are many entities which are called gods, but when we say ‘I believe in God’, we mean only one of them. The question is, which one of them?

The psalmist gives his answer: the one whose name is ‘Yahweh’ – which is translated as ‘the Lord’ (with the small capitals). In almost every line of the Psalm we heard this name repeated:

[you gods…],2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;
worship the Lord in holy splendour.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars…
7 The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness…
9 The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl…
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!

What the psalmist does here is have all the (other) gods turn their gaze towards ‘the Lord’, and ascribe to this one the sovereignty over all things, including the many lesser gods themselves. The poet’s concern is not oneness of God but the sovereignty of this particular [g]od over all the others.

This distinction between the gods is central to Old Testament theology. The divine names are a way of differentiating between the gods as different powers available to us to deliver the life we seek. In the Old Testament a god is something you call upon for security, health and prosperity, something you fear, or invoke against your fears. The only question is, which of the gods will deliver? It is the purpose of the gods – their function in human life – which is the important thing for re-casting our talk about belief and unbelief today.

To the extent that we today call upon powers to save us, we find ourselves in the theological space of the Scriptures, whether or not we call these powers ‘gods’. There are many such powers we seek to placate or to control and wield in modern life. We might name the economy as one, with its doctrines of the need for constant consumption and for constant increase in consumption. You don’t have to be a professor of economics to notice how large economic concerns loom for us as a society or the religious fervour with which it is served. We might name the nation as another power-cum-divinity with a powerful grip on us. The nation-state is a relatively recent invention in our history, but something like it has been with us for as long as we’ve drawn distinctions between tribes and clans. And we see the tragic consequences of our service to different national gods every night on our TV screens.

Other quasi-divinities lurking in our world, their divine characteristics unrecognised, include ‘tradition’, ‘the individual’, ‘youth’, ‘money’. Any one of these has the potential to take on demonic dimensions by which what is small and specific and precious is crushed by what is large and general. The poverty of popular atheism is not the paucity of its arguments about God but the absence in all that polemic of a viable economic political model or ethical framework which would make sense of us in our malaise and our tendency to worship worldly things as if they were heavenly. This fundamental confusion about ourselves and our world is central to the testimony of Scripture.

Our problem is not God or religion as such – at least as they are cast by our atheistic critics. Our problem is that we cannot save ourselves, without a lot of us being lost or crushed along the way, and that is scarcely being ‘saved’. Getting rid of religion is not going to solve the problem, for getting rid of our religious bent has been the work of God among his people at least since the call of Abraham, and it’s not been managed yet.

We need a better atheism than that which is trotted out every now and again as the solution to all our problems. This better atheism would be one like that of which Christians themselves were accused in the early days of the church in Rome – an atheism which does not deny the presence of the many god-like powers in our lives, but distinguishes between them in order to identify which is the one which speaks us – all of us – the best.

There is much more which must be said, but today it will have to be enough simply to suggest that, for the sake of the gospel, we might have to allow that the God we gather to worship on Sundays is in fact one among many gods in our lives, and yet this one actively seeks us out, that we might have peace and freedom. This the psalmist knows better than most of us. We are under the influence of the gods, and they are at best untrustworthy and, at worst, outright dangerous.

It is, then, to the God of Israel – the God and Father of Jesus Christ – that the poet calls the gods and all peoples to turn, that they might watch as this One – Yaweh, the Lord – sets his people from the powers which diminish us and takes from our hands those powers we exercise over others, and so blesses all people with peace (v11).

May God’s people, then, hear the poet’s call, and turn with the gods to the Holy One of Israel, that he may put us right.

MtE Update – May 28 2021

  1. Worship this Sunday May 30 will be a pre-recorded service available from our YouTube channel around 10am. We’ve had some website issues lately so go to the YouTube channel directly if the website is not operating.
  2. The planned ecumenical Service of Christian Unity for this Sunday May 30 is postponed on account of the C-19 restrictions presently in place — to be held sometime soon!
  3. For those interested in exploring Taize’s style of worship, Northcote UCA is conducting a monthly service: info.  
  4. The most recent Synod eNews (May 27)
  5. The most recent Presbytery News is here (May 26)
  6. This coming Sunday May 30 is Trinity Sunday; some textual and podcast commentary on the readings are here.

Old News

  1. Please consider supporting the Friends of Vellore fundraiser to support the hospital’s COVID-19 response in India; donation details are here.

Advance Dates

  1. Our congregational meeting to consider further our congregation’s future accommodation has been shifted to Sunday July 18, commencing after worship and continuing to mid-afternoon; more details to come!!

23 May – Unbearable

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Pentecost
23/5/2021

Romans 8:22-27
Psalm 104
John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15


In a sentence
The Spirit of God makes heaven out of us

Jesus says to his disciples, ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.’

The text is not explicit about what the unbearable things are, and the neither do the commentaries seem to be very interested in the question. Yet this might be important for a church which finds much ‘unbearable’: decline in numbers, deteriorating and unmanageable buildings, a much-bruised reputation and increasingly complex governance responsibilities. No small part of our own thinking about a future off this site will be ‘What can we bear?’ What is the relationship between these unbearable things here and now, and the things Jesus considers his disciples will not be able to bear?

The unbearable things Jesus speaks of here come a little more into view when he refers to the work of the Spirit. The work of the Spirit here is to ‘convict’, to ‘prove the world wrong’ about sin, righteousness and judgement. This is not a Spirit who sits well with much contemporary interest in ‘spirituality’. This is a spikey Spirit that does not waft or flow or comfort but skewers us with the pointy end of sin, righteousness and judgement.

‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.’ They cannot bear them ‘now’ because the Spirit has not yet been given. The Spirit has not been given because Jesus has not yet been crucified. The unbearable thing, then, and our being able to bear it, have to do with the cross.

The death of Jesus must be a part of what will be unbearable for the disciples, yet the Spirit is no mere ‘comfort’ for this difficult experience, no soft cushion in a hard world. The Spirit will re-cast the cross, moving it from the world’s judgement on Jesus to God’s judgement on the world. The unbearability of the death of Jesus will become a new vision of righteousness.

But what then about those things we find unbearable here and now? What is the relationship between the unbearable thing Jesus would say, the way in which the Spirit makes that bearable, and our own unbearable things?

The Spirit makes bearable the unbearable things to which Jesus refers, most surprisingly, precisely by creating the unbearable church. The Spirit tells the truth about Jesus by doing Jesus again: now as the church – the unbearable church.

This is surely troubling.

When we condemn the church for its heresy or dogmatism or managerialism or incompetence or corporatism or wishy-washiness, or for its wealth or anxiety or triumphalism or self-interest or lack of faith, or whatever, we declare: surely this cannot bear the Word of God, be the presence of God, even be useful to God. Surely there is more of God somewhere else. This is part of the appeal of modern, popular nowhere-in-particular spirituality and its aversion to being ‘locked in’ to place or community or ritual: the spiritual cannot be found here.

But the gift of the Spirit – the gift of this particular Spirit – is the gift of the extraordinary ordinary. Here, now in the church – even this church! – the truth the Spirit brings is the possibility of ‘heaven’ – God’s kingdom come, here. This we declare not because what of we see but because of who chooses to name this place in that way – because of whose Body we are said to become, according to the will of God.

It matters not whether the same might be said of places other than the church. It matters for us only that this place – our place – is claimed by God as God’s own, embraced as if an Only-Begotten Child. This is a new vision of righteousness.

This is the gospel – that, even we as are, God wills to have us. The Spirit takes what is in a community such as ours and declares that even this can bear the grace of God.

It is not for nothing that the creed has us declare, ‘We believe in the church.’ To believe in Jesus is to believe in the church. To love Jesus is to love the crucified Jesus, to see in the world’s abandonment and judgement of him the truth of God. In the same way, to believe in the church is to love the church as it actually is.  This is not to baptise or endorse all that the church is in its externality; it is, instead, to declare, Where else would we expect the deep grace of God to be manifest except in such an unbearable place? It is here that our belief in Jesus, even our love of Jesus, becomes concrete and specific – in the particular, tangible community of which we are a part.

And out of this springs the imperative: love the church. Love the church not as an idea but as it is. Love your congregation; love not only the one you’re happy to sit next to, but the one who sits in front of you, or behind, or across the room. Love your church council. Love your presbytery. Love your Synod. Do this not because they are lovely, yet. Any of these can sometimes be quite unbearable, entirely unlovely.

Love, because it is the love which bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things which makes the beloved lovely. When this happens the unbearable is not made not merely bearable but a joy.

This matters for the process through which our congregation is presently passing – the long, drawn-out, expensive, laborious, frustrating, disappointing, dispiriting, unbearable process of trying to deal with these buildings in the context of the kind of church we are as a denomination. It also relates to the stage we are now entering – hopefully, the last few steps towards determining a future for the congregation. We can’t enter into this expecting that it will be easy, or that it will be obvious what to do, or that we will completely satisfy everyone.

But we could take our next steps in the love of which we have just spoken. We could, then, not so much work toward an outcome for a future for the congregation as love one another in that kind of direction. Then, what is ahead of us would not be something we ‘have’ to do – another unbearable thing in the life of the church. It would simply be the kind of thing we should always be doing – another work of love: thinking together, discussing, debating, planning, praying, and then looking to see what God can make of all that.

To believe in this God is to believe in the church which God’s Spirit creates – even ours, and out of ours. To believe in the church is not yet to see it, but to expect that it will come into view, and to act now in such a way that when it does appear, we will recognise ourselves in it – no longer unbearable but cause for joy on account of God’s work of grace.

Let us, then, begin and continue to live and love according to the wholly new righteousness we expect God to make out of us.

 

Re-worked from a sermon previously preached at MtE (2015)

Sunday Worship at MtE – 23 May 2021

The worship service for Sunday 23 May 2021 can be viewed by clicking on the image below.  The order of service can be viewed here.

Other worship services can be found in the list below or at the MtE YouTube channel

MtE Update – May 21 2021

  1. There will be an ecumenical Service of Christian Unity on Sunday May 30, 6pm at St Mary’s Anglican Church, 430 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne, incorporating at least the congregations of St Mary’s, Mark the Evangelist and the West Melbourne Baptist Church. You are most welcome – encouraged! – to attend!
  2. News from the Justice and International Mission Cluster (May 18)
  3. Please consider supporting the Friends of Vellore fundraiser to support the hospital’s COVID-19 response in India; donation details are here.
  4. This coming Sunday May 23 is Pentecost; some commentary on the readings are here.

Advance Dates

  1. Earlier advice of a congregational meeting on June 27 is now awaiting confirmation — the date may need to be delayed a few weeks. This meeting will be to consider further our congregational, and will commence after worship and continue to mid-afternoon; more details to come!!

16 May – Ascended, for us II

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Easter 7
16/5/2021

Acts 1:1-11
Psalm 93
Luke 24:44-53


In a sentence
The Ascension of Jesus is a sign that Jesus continues his ministry for us, now in the very heart of God.

Most of you are old enough to recognise the phrase, ‘Beam me up, Scottie’, and many have likely made a connection between the biblical account of the Ascension of Jesus and the collective memory of the call of Star Trek’s Captain James Kirk from some alien planet up to his chief engineer Montgomery Scott in the orbiting Enterprise (‘collective memory’ because Kirk never actually said it quite like that).

Yet, it isn’t easy to make sense of where Jesus goes as he disappears into the clouds. Luke, of course, would answer, ‘heaven’, but we’ve long since abandoned the thought that heaven is up (I hope). For Luke, ‘up’ is a place; for us, it is only a direction. It would be easier for us today to hear that Jesus, after he finished talking to the disciples, simply ‘vanished’ from their sight (cf. Luke 24.31) in the way that Captain Kirk did, and to be told that he was now in heaven rather than to see him on his way there. Luke’s rather stark image of a body rising into the heavens is no doubt intended to help his first readers with the question of where the body of Jesus went, but it doesn’t much help us.

The Ascension as an event is not a dominant feature in the New Testament. It is a little like the Christmas stories, told quickly and without later references back to them in the rest of the New Testament. These are things which ‘must’ have happened and so are noted with an account or two, but otherwise not particularly important. That Jesus was born is essential; how it happened doesn’t matter. The gospel would still be the gospel without Christmas. So also for the Ascension: it matters that Jesus is in some way ‘elevated’ to ‘God’s right hand’; how that happened, or what it might have looked like, or even precisely when it occurred, is somewhat secondary.

This is to say that the doctrine that Jesus ‘sits at God’s right hand’ – another startlingly realistic image – can be held without Luke’s gracefully levitating Lord. We can believe that Jesus ‘sits at God’s right hand’ without believing that God has hands; so also can we believe that Jesus is ‘with’ God without visualising it in Luke’s terms. This conviction must take a specific form for its substance to be communicated, but the substance can remain much the same even if the form is changed. Luke’s image, implying as it does a view of Jesus’ feet dangling overhead, is simply the particular form in which the substance of Jesus’ relationship to God is expressed.

Of course, most weeks, we recite a creed which refers to the Ascension, and so we are put in a position of saying something the form of which – by itself – is difficult to defend. I hope that the distinction we’ve drawn between the form and the substance helps, so that we might be able to say that line – and every other line in the Creed – as a kind of code within which is carried the deeper confession.

But let’s note two other things about the credal statement, first to embrace it and then to qualify it somewhat. As the story of God in Christ unfolds in the Creed, we hear that Jesus was conceived, was born, did suffer, did die, was buried, did descend, and did rise. Then, shifting from the past tense to the present, we hear that Jesus now ‘is seated’ at the right hand of the Father. This is a continuing situation: Jesus is with God.

Note then how this relates to the doctrine of the Incarnation. To say that Jesus is God incarnate is to say that God comes into human being in the person of Jesus. Whether or not we believe it, this is the point of the doctrine. To say that Jesus ‘ascends’ to God is to say the complementary opposite: that human being comes into divine being. Where is God? In Jesus, among us. Where are we? In Jesus, in God. The Incarnation sees us as God’s context; the Ascension sees God as our context.

We see, then, that the Ascension doesn’t really ‘add’ anything to the Incarnation, and that the work of the Incarnation would not be incomplete without the Ascension. What we said about Jesus on Easter Day, we can also say about the Creed: it has no ‘parts’, but is rather a multitude of refracting surfaces through which, darkly, we see one thing.

Jesus is not, then, merely ‘elevated’ in the Ascension, or rewarded. Luke’s account affirms that the human Jesus who died a sinner’s death, discounted and discarded – this one is at the heart of God and continues there.

Ours is a time, then, marked by God’s embrace of God-forsakenness. In metaphorical language drawn from the royal court, one who died the death of sinners now ‘sits at God’s right hand’. Seated there, Jesus becomes, as it were, a reminder to God of his love for the world, the presence of the broken, godless world in Jesus himself, standing, praying in the heart of God. This ‘reminder’ is the purpose of Jesus’ prayer, which precedes and embraces our own. To place Jesus there is to place ourselves there.

To God, Jesus stands as the sign of broken creation; to the world, Jesus stands as the sign of God’s embrace of that broken creation: here God is, and remains.

This is the gospel: in all things, God with us, us with God. In every effort, the freedom to succeed or to fail. In every joy and sorrow, God filling and extending. As we are, we are found at the heart of God, our lives hidden with Christ in God – loved as we are, and in that love receiving the freedom of God’s children.

The gospel is that Jesus has gone before us in all things, and has already brought us into the heart of God. That being the case, fear has no place among us, nor envy or pride, nor greed or hatred. Such things have to do with incompleteness, with not yet being free. In such attitudes and behaviour, we act to secure what is already given us in Jesus. For the incarnate and ascended Jesus is himself complete and, by the grace of God, is our own completeness in God.

If Jesus is with God and prays for us, all things are already ours.

And we are released to do and to be as Jesus was: children of God, working and speaking and thinking in the God who gives us all things and frees us for a fullness of life, in love.

Let us, then, live out of that freedom.

Re-worked from a sermon previously preached at MtE (2014)

Sunday Worship at MtE – 16 May 2021

The worship service for Sunday 16 May 2021 can be viewed by clicking on the image below.  The order of service can be viewed here.

Other worship services can be found in the list below or at the MtE YouTube channel

MtE Update – May 13 2021

  1. The most recent Synod eNews (May 13)
  2. Please consider supporting the Friends of Vellore fundraiser to support the hospital’s COVID-19 response in India; donation details are here.
  3. This coming Sunday May 16 we will pick up the celebration of Ascension (today, May 13); the readings are here.

Other things of interest

  1. New Testament STUDY GROUPS have begun — Wednesday evenings and Friday afternoons. This is a great course on the New Testament from a contemporary scholarly perspective, using online video (lectures), complemented by printed transcripts. Details of the discussion groups and how to register can be found here (registration helps!). Join with members from 5 or 6 other congregations for great conversation and learning together — late starters most welcome!

Advance Dates

ADVANCE notice of a congregational meeting June 27 to consider further our buildings and futures project

Illuminating Faith – Introduction to the New Testament

Introduction

This is a ‘value-added’ study series based on an excellent online resource on the New Testament from Professor Dale Martin at Yale University, and complements a similar Yale course on the Old Testament also adapted for IF.

This undergraduate course outlines many important considerations scholars bring to reading the New Testament, as well as covering providing an introduction to the content of the New Testament. The course should be particularly useful for introducing lay people to modern historical critical methods developed over the last two centuries for interpreting these texts.

The whole series and its associated resources can be found in its original form on the Yale site. The ‘Sessions’ tab on that page brings up the full list of lectures, and clicking on each brings up the video, an audio-only version, transcription text, and any other resources (occasional handouts, etc.) relating to that session.

This IF version uses the Yale videos and a version of the Yale transcript reformatted into an easily printable PDF with paragraph numbering for easy reference in conversation groups. The main supplementary material is gathered together on one web page for each part, and a few other resources are also provided to build on the Yale material.

For an introduction to the series and presenting it in your local context, download our introductory document:

The studies can be done in one continuous series. It is, however, quite long, and so a break-up of the material into four parts is suggested below (the break-up is not part of the original series)

Preparing for the discussions

Prior to each session, watch the lecture via the links below, or read the transcript. There is also an audio-only version of the lectures available on the course homepage under the ‘sessions’ tab — click on the session you want and the audio can be downloaded at the bottom of the session page.

The collection of lecture transcripts can be downloaded individually from the session details below, or as a zipped file here:

There is often a section of biblical text which it would be helpful to read in conjunction with Martin’s lectures. This is indicated in the session details below, along with other reading or video resources which might complement the material.

The Yale material is reproduced here according to the associated terms of use.

Other resources

Bible
  • Prof Martin suggests the New Revised Standard Bible (NRSV) as the version of the Bible for the course. There is no need to purchase this version; the text of the NRSV is available online at, for example, the Oremus Bible Broswer, should you need it.
  • The edition of the NRSV Martin refers to in the first lecture is the latest (5th) edition of the New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocryhpa, which is probably most accessible to Australians via Angus and Robertson (Ebay) – about $AU61 (April 2021). This has extensive interpretative footnotes to the biblical text and a number of essays on themes of NT interpretation. It is a similar price on Book Depository, and bit cheaper there for the paperback version. (Take care not to purchase the much cheaper Apocrypha-only version!). The Kindle version of the full Bible is about $22.
Commentary
  • Prof Martin has turned his lectures into a book, available here in paperback and Kindle versions. The text, however, does not extend greatly beyond the online lectures/transcripts. 
  • If you would like more reading to complement what we hear in the lectures, perhaps better (at least, with a different voice) might be Pheme Perkin’s Reading the New Testament (Kindle, paperback, $15-35 plus postage); probably cheaper at Book Depository.
  • For the intrepid, Tom Wright’s New Testament in its World is a massive book covering similar ground in much greater than a single lecture series could. This is available on Amazon (international stock) here but the best source for Australians might be Koorong (about $70 posted). Take care not to order the much cheaper ‘Workbook’ companion volume by mistake!

The Study Materials

[Part 1 – Introduction to the Study of the NT]

  • Session 1 – Introduction: Why Study the New Testament? Video 1; lecture transcript
  • Session 2 – From Stories to Canon Video 2; lecture transcript
    • Some might be interested in some extensive YouTube/video material from Robert Jenson on the theme of the canon and its relationship to the creeds: Illuminating Faith – Scripture, Canon, Creed
    • Prof Martin makes passing reference to the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) in this lecture. The Septuagint (meaning ‘70’ and abbreviated with the Roman numerals LXX), is important for the interpretation of the New Testament because it is the text (rather than the Hebrew) which NT authors cite. A quick (2.5 min) video overview can be found in the Museum of the Bible introduction; Andrew Perrin’s longer (15min) intro is here. A brief text overview of the LXX can be found in this Encyclopedia Britannica article; the Wikipedia page is more extensive. And you can read the LXX (in English!) here.
  • Session 3  – The Greco-Roman World Video 3; lecture transcript
  • Session 4  – Judaism in the First Century Video 4; lecture transcript
    • Bible: Book of Daniel (Old Testament)
    • See this supplementary page for more short introductory videos on Jewish history from the beginning of Hellenisation through to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. (There are quite a few videos here — an optional extra!)
  • Session 5  – The New Testament as History Video 5 ; lecture transcript
    • Bible: Acts 9-15; Galatians 1-2

[Part 2 – Jesus and the Gospels]

  • Session 7  – The Gospel of Matthew Video 7; lecture transcript
    • Bible: Gospel according to Matthew
    • The Bible Project’s summary of Matthew’s Gospel: Part 1 and Part 2
    • Gospel Parallels: A useful resource for the study of the four Gospels is a gospel parallel. This sets corresponding passages from the various canonical Gospels next to each other for comparison of the passages in each. A gospel parallel is probably best presented as a printed hardcopy document. An online version that does some of the work can be found here. This particular resource lists the parallel passages by chapter and verse in the columns. The actual text(s) for these references are found by clicking/tapping on the numbered link in the leftmost column, which jumps to the parallel texts at the Bible Gateway site. These passages can be read not next to each other (which printed book versions enable) but above/below each other, which is less satisfactory than a book version but saves trying to hold 3 or 4 bookmarks in place in your home Bible and then flipping back and forth between them! You will also see that it is possible to change the Bible version for the passages via the drop-down menu at the top of the passage; changing one changes them all for that parallel selection.

[Part 3 – Paul and Friends]

[Part 4 – Apocalypse and Interpretation]

Session 26 – The “Afterlife” of the New Testament and Postmodern Interpretation Video 26; lecture transcript

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