Saturday, December 03, 2005

Brief thoughts

Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him
who brings good news,
who publishes peace!

(Nahum 1:15)

  • There is no good news without violence against the enemy: Nahum 1.

  • Jesus takes a tack against merit legalism that should be heard more often than 'it doesn't work': Luke 17:7-10.

PS is it just me or does anyone else find the Gospels are sometimes almost too rich, a bit like chocolate fondont? Makes you wonder how they were meant to be read. We always talk about reading letters in one go, but is that what we should do with the Gospels? Should we just read one pericope and think deeply about it?

I do know I like the prophets though.


At 8:47 am, Blogger thebluefish said...

gospels are great... having spent this term walking the road to jerusalem in Luke its superb... but I know I could go and do it again, and again, and again...

At 11:27 pm, Blogger Dave K said...

Yes I've enjoyed reading your posts on it. I have even done a couple of bible studies in my cell from Luke this year. But in the first I felt that there was too much to absorb and I found it hard to find an underlying theme. The second time I only did two short and familiar stories, which I think went better.

I do not really know, but I keep on thinking about how these stories swam around the oral (?) culture of the early church before they were collected, edited, and added too, by the Gospel writers. I wonder to what degree did the Gospel writers want us to see a progressing story/argument in their books (the passion narratives being the obvious exception).

I ramble.

PS I think John is a different kettle of fish.

At 10:27 am, Blogger thebluefish said...

We all ramble...

Good question... same question I have for Piper and Lloyd-Jones in Romans...

I suppose that in looking the big themes are there. The danger is we read in more than is there. It was why we studied Luke in massive sections so we wouldn't over do the detail. People really struggled to handle this much text, because they wanted to study every last word...

Some might argue that the passion narrative is the whole progressing argument of the book...

At 9:21 pm, Blogger Dave K said...

Ooo too much to comment on there!

I have thought about the way Piper and Lloyd-Jones preach(ed).

I like your question you have for them. Althoughmy biggest gripe with them is that I do not know how you can spend so much time per verse and still preach the whole counsel of God. This is for two reasons:

1. You only have so much time and if you spend years in one letter you are never going to cover many of the many different perspectives that the bible provides.

2. By the nature of the painstaking exercise you will tend to gravitate towards the pauline epistles, because they suit the propositional approach. I remember Carson commenting on the proportion of time L-J spent over his life in Romans in comparison to the OT and it was horribly disproportionate!

I listened to Ian Stackhouse on Jeremiah recently, and I admired his commitment to this principle as he spent going on for 10 sermons expounding Jeremiah's own brand of OT judgment. He had to constantly remind his congregation why he was doing it though.

Having said all that there are some great sermons that dig deeply into a verse (as both Piper and L-J famously demonstrate) and probably my favourite set of sermons is Pipers 3 (!) on Rom 8:28.

Another point that I got from Carson is that the preacher should be teaching people not just the bible's message but how the congregation can do the job for themselves everyday (give a man a fish...but give a man a net...). Which is not really possible in the very guru-like way verse-at-a-time preachers do it.

[hmm as this comment is already too long I will respond to your next para in a post]

In response to your comment about the whole gospels: Clearly the gospel writers had some structures in mind e.g. extended passion narrative, from Galilee-to-Samaria-to-Jerusalam-Sameria-world (Luke-Acts), growing realisation that the Messiah must suffer, growing realisation of Jesus's identity, growing opposition etc. However, those structures are often only apparant in a few verses a chapter, and it does not always seem that the stories were designed to fit the purpose of that specific point in the structure. This is no doubt because the writers were gathering info, moulding it but not making it up, and because the Gospels were for general consumption, not just for the one church which needed reminding of one thing (like the letters).

Ahhhh! if I ever had any structure to this comment it's gone!

Take for example how Luke picked up whole sequences of stories from Mark and just plonked them in the same order into his own narrative. It seems that there were small collections of stories bobbing around the early church, sometimes with loose themes tying them together, and sometimes not, and Matthew etc had as one of their aims to collect them together, even if they did not neatly fit into their own purposes/agenda.


What I guess this means for our Gospel reading is that we should be careful about saying what is the main point of one chapter, when they may not have had one theme, or a connected sequence of themes in mind. Rather each pericope should be read as on its own sometimes and sometimes not. Got to judge by the context I guess.

What this can mean for me is that where as I can happily read Ephesians (in all it's richness) straight through, and ask what it's main point/trajectory is. I cannot do the same with Luke 9-12 for instance (although I could probably do it with the whole Gospel; or even better whole of Luke-Acts).

Well that comment went to pot. Hope it made sense to you than it did for me.

Got too much to say, but not sure it's all right!!


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