Monday, April 28, 2008

Pertinent Questions

Friday will come with a blink of an eye. I had better get started on preparing for bible study on the Gospel of John. I began reading Carson and Moo’s An Introduction to the New Testament section on John. I started asking questions and was surprised to discover that I had asked very basic but pertinent ones I do not think I had considered before.

Why is it important to know about the structure, author and date of writing of books in the Bible?
The answers I have are very simple yet fundamental. Can it be more than being able to know its emphasis through the structure, its authenticity through its author and its reliability through its date of writing?



  1. Hmmm. I'm sensing a pattern here. I only get inspired by posts other people overlook. :-/

    To your suggestions, I would add "feeling."

    Take 1st Timothy.

    If Timothy was a rookie pastor, then the book reads one way. But if Timothy was Paul's apprentice, and only in Ephesus for a several-month stint on his way to helping other churches all over the continent, then it reads with a different feeling. If Paul wrote it from the office of his headquarters complex, then it reads one way. But if Paul was in Rome, expecting to be released to head into Spain and probably get arrested again, then it reads with a different feeling. If it was written to a church that met every Sunday and followed the standard liturgy, then it reads one way. If it was written to a church struggling with the very first feminist outbreak of the gnostic heresy, and vulnerable because its leaders were babes in the faith themselves, then it reads with a completely different feeling.

    Or take 1st Corinthians. If you don't notice that the Corinthians sent a letter to Paul, and that the entire latter half of the book is a point by point refutation of the assertions of that letter, then half that book is confounding.

    Or take Romans. If you don't read chapter 16 carefully, and realize that Paul is sending this letter to a brigade of the most experienced, trustworthy Christians he had personally known, and probably that they were there because he personally asked them to go there when the Edict of Claudius was lifted, then you will miss a lot of the impact of him saying things those people were undoubtedly teaching every day.

    Or take the Revelation. If you don't know that John was a very Jewish writer, and that the Jewish tradition of apocalyptic writing includes using fantastic imagery to describe well-known political events, you might think the Revelation was written primarily to people who were not even born yet.

    Anyway. I loved this question. I'm sorry it takes me so long to catch up with things any more.

  2. Let's just settle with "great minds think alike" ;P

    At first I went.. "Hmmmm..." but reading through it ... "Ahhh..." :)
    I agree - maybe not "feeling" feeling -- this happens to be an overused word. But more on the feel of the writing - commanding, or exhorting, or mysterious, or commending.

    But wouldn't this come under genre rather than structure, author and date?