Extracurricular Activities 7.19.14 — Scripted Prayers and Why Writing on Romans is "Jolly Hard Work"
I’m just now half way through writing my Romans commentary for the SGBC series. I plan to finish it by October/November. Let me say that it is jolly hard work. Romans is, after all, the magnum opus of the Pauline corpus, with disputed purposes, some curious text-critical problems, a plethora of exegetical problems, covering wide ranging themes, weaved together with a rich tapestry of intertextual citations and allusions, with huge theological capital, and rich rhetorical technique too. There is so much secondary literature in terms of articles, monographs, and commentaries. Realizing that I wasn’t writing a technical volume for the Hermeneia, ICC, or WBC series, I gave up even attempting to read everything. Instead, I found myself gravitating towards stuff that took my fancy and piqued my interest.
Things I’ve learned...
For me, the most rewarding part of teaching is introducing my students to primary sources. Each of my classes involves a lecture period plus an hour of small-group tutorials in which the class works its way through a book that I have chosen. In the books that have come down to us from the past, we have access to Christian minds far more energetic and more accommodating than our own. It is a joy to find yourself in the presence of a mind that you cannot fully comprehend. This has always been one of the chief reasons for studying the humanities at all: to learn that the human spirit is larger and more interesting than one's own poor spirit, or (this is the political benefit of studying the humanities) than the spirit of the age.
The finest prayers of the church can be found in the church’s “collects.” A collect is a scripted prayer, used in public (or private) worship, written for a specific week in the church calendar, and which “collects” together the church’s petitions. What is not known is that the time-worn collects of the church have a long, long history.
I’ve come from a theologically conservative background. Ken Ham this, dinosaurs-lived-with-humans-as-seen-in-Job that.
Sometimes I miss those days. Everything was straightforward. And most foundational of all: the Bible was the inerrant Word of God! The logic employed in defence of this dogma was obviously circular, but it was supposedly “God-ordained”, so who could object?!
(A) The Bible claims to be the perfect word of God. (B) The Bible is true. (C) Therefore, the Bible is the perfect word of God.
Try backing out of that beauty! Parsed more formally, this would tend to run as follows:
(A) The Bible is God inspired. (B) God cannot lie (according to the Bible). (C) Therefore, the Bible is true in all that it affirms (whether those affirmations be about history, science or whatever).
America’s southern border is engulfed in a humanitarian crisis, as refugees fleeing violence in central America, many of them unaccompanied children, seek safety. As Christians, we must recognize both the complexity of this situation and what it means to be people of justice and mercy.
I say that the situation is complex because some Christians would like a simple fix. Some would, it seems, like to hear that some organized mission trips to the border would alleviate the crisis here. This ignores the depths of the problem.
Extra-Curricular Activities is a weekly roundup of stories on biblical interpretation, theology, and issues where faith and culture meet. We found each story interesting, thought-provoking, challenging, or useful in some way – but we don't necessarily agree with or endorse every point in every story.
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