This January I took my first class on the New Testament. The material is usually covered over a full semester but in the “J-Term” a class is condensed to just two weeks. Needless to say it’s a lot of information fast. I thought I would write a few of my top takeaways of a seminary New Testament course and a very wise Professor.
1.) Eye Witnesses: My first point about eyewitnesses really stands to address the surprising truth surrounding the academic world of biblical research. Namely, the amount of scholars who dedicate their lives to study the history and context of the bible only to loose their faith along the way. When studied so intricately, the bible can either become a spring of living water or just another text book. Which brings me to my first major takeaway; If you choose not to believe in miracles, it won’t matter how many people have seen them. Simply put, Jesus lived, breathed, spoke, and healed in front of thousands of… witnesses. It is always wise to question the validity of a story, the bible is no exception, but we have to remember that when the “Good News of Jesus” was being written down the cities were still filled with people who lived with the real person. How many towns experienced His miraculous life first hand? When the Gospels were written there would have been thousands of everyday people who could say “I remember when Jesus did that.”
2.) Parables: Have you ever read one of the Parables and felt totally lost? Well, your not the only one. I learned It can be helpful to think of a political cartoon. It’s hard to understand the joke if you don’t know the politician or what He’s been up to. When you read a parable try to identify the characters by what you know Jesus is trying to accomplish. For example; In Matthew 13:1-17 the Parable of the Sower describes a man sprinkling seeds on four different types of ground. Would Jesus be the Sower or the seed? Thankfully Jesus explains that “the seed” is “the word” and since we know that Jesus himself is spreading the word of the kingdom of God we can see that he would be the Sower. A parable will almost always have three main characters; God, a good example, and a bad example. Keep your eyes out for these three and I hope this practice helps.
- Some say Luke was a Doctor which means he was wealthy and educated; in reality Doctors in the New Testament were usually slaves. Dealing with blood and unclean disease was seen as a very dirty job.
- The word “Baptism” in Greek is usually translated: immersion. To be fully immersed in a Holy Spirit filled lifestyle.
- Prison in the first century was used as a waiting period for trial, not a sentence. Paul was not sentenced to time in prison. He wrote as he waited to be judged.
3.) The Davis family is the best! This month we were visited by some of our amazing family from California. (That’s right they left 70 degrees to visit us in 15 degrees.) We had such a great time in the snow and the city!
Favorite quotes right now…
“Sometimes when I start a sentence, I don’t even know where it’s going, I just hope I find it along the way.” – Michael Scott (The Office)
“Here we see who the historical Jesus was: the man who had the power to address God as abba and who included the sinners and the publicans in the kingdom by authorizing them to repeat this one word, Abba, dear Father.” – J. Jeremias (New Testament History)