Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bible Study Series

Now that the first month of class is over at the high school, and I am finally settling into a fairly consistent daily routine, I want to propose a new series of posts to you. I have contemplated doing an informal online Bible study on this blog for some time, but I want to make sure there are people who are committed to doing the reading along with me as well as making comments. What I am thinking about is that this study would consist in roughly two posts a week on the designated Biblical book. I would divide up whatever book we would study and provide some initial thoughts on each section in hopes of spurring on a discussion in the comment box. I am open to any suggestions on alternative ways of doing this, so let me know. If this interests you, please "RSVP" in the comment box along with your vote as to which Biblical book we should study first. Let's give this a go!


Theophrastus said...

Does that mean you aren't going to finish your informal "book club" reading of Benedict/Ratzinger's Jesus of Nazareth?

Jonny said...

How about starting with Genesis? I would love to do a group study of an OT book, especially now that the NABRE Old Testament is available online.

Timothy said...


I think I'll come back to it at some point.

Leonardo said...


It would be interesting for me to read the Bible and compare the notes included in the NABRE or any other catholic Bible.

How about to start with a small book and see if we can participate making comments. For example, the book of Tobit.

Krystle said...

I'd love to take part of this "informal" bible study :) I don't really care we start... Romans is one of my favorites :)

PS Since you are from metro-Detroit area, sometimes I feel clueless of all the Catholic teachings/seminars/etc. around the area.... is there a website or some place (besides church bulletins) to get this info... I know in New York there's a Theology on Tap series and was curious if there was anything like that in the area (sorry that this was kind off topic)

Ron said...

I'd be interested, how about Ephesians? It's not too long and might be a good trial run.

Timothy said...


Why don't you drop me an email and we can talk about some things that might be of interest to you:
mccorm45 (at) yahoo (dot) com

Chrysostom said...


Epistle to the Hebrews from the NT or Genesis or Isaiah from the OT.

Those are likely three of the most fraught texts in the entire Bible, most difficult both theologically and historically. But have the greatest reward; nearly the entire outline of salvation history is laid out in Genesis, disregarding the difficult redaction history and the popular literal hermeneutic of the first two chapters. The entirety of Church salvation history through the victory and ransom of our Lord Jesus Christ as the perfect high priest offering infinite atonement is laid out in Hebrews. The Suffering Servant Songs in Isaiah are essentially a proto-gospel.

For something easier, maybe the Gospel according to Luke? Or 1 St John?

There's enough information to keep it interesting, both on a theological and historical-critical level, but not so much as to lead into endless excurses such as the aforementioned books or St John would lead to. Matthew is another option, but it doesn't have the infancy narrative and the Marian focus, but it does have more parable, if you're going to focus on "Life Application Study" sort of study instead of exegetical study.

Leland said...

Definitely interested....maybe 1 John for a test run? Then Romans or Hebrews if t works out....

Francesco said...

Hi Tim,

I'd sign up if I knew how much reading that would be on a weekly basis. How many chapters a week do you think it would cover?

My vote is for something nice and short like Jonah or James to start off so we work out any kinks and see how it goes.

Sounds interesting!

Llanbedr said...


Tobit,Genesis or Isaiah from the OT?
Or, maybe Hebrews, Mark or I John from the NT?

Whatever's chosen, count me in.

Anonymous said...

Yes and as above, whatever's chosen count me in also. Our parish is not doing bible study this year so anything would be welcome. Thanks/Sharon in Waxahachie!

Anonymous said...


Vince said...

Hi, I just wanted to ask: are you thinking of a unique spin on the study? There's just too many study guides around.

Lately I've thought about comparing the notes of the NABRE vs NJB vs ICSBNT vs NJBC

(Pretty sure all those acronyms are familiar here)

Anonymous said...

I would be interested in participating!

Theophrastus said...

Vince wrote

I just wanted to ask: are you thinking of a unique spin on the study? There's just too many study guides around.

Actually, that's an excellent question.

(And the rest of Vince's comment is pretty interesting too.)

Timothy said...

Theo and Vince,

I am still formulating how I will proceed with the Bible study series, so let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions. I am certainly open to them.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tim,

Just thinking aloud. Some of the wild possibilities:

- compare how Catholic vs Protestant vs Jewish commentators address the sections under study

- If I have the NABRE notes, what do the NJBC, ICSBNT and NJB notes add?

- Let's try reading this section in a literalist way!

- Let's learn NT Greek (or Hebrew) or Aramaic

- Let's rewrite this books for children.

- Let's read it as an atheist out to prove the scriptures are baloney.


Theophrastus said...

The problem I've seen in the past is that people bring so many different backgrounds to a reading -- some are reading original languages, some are reading very technical commentaries, some are reading devotional commentaries, and so it often seems that people are talking past each other rather than with each other.

And some people are reading very traditional translations while others are reading historical-critical study Bibles, and that is often a big disconnect.

For this reason, I sometimes think it is useful to keep each study session focused on a matching very particular question: (e.g., "what was going through Abraham's mind when he was sacrificing Issac," "what are the structural similarities in the various stories in this section," "how does Matthew use material from the Old Testament?") Or alternatively, find some special twist (e.g., have participants use poetry to express their reactions to a particular passage.)

Otherwise, these things can often descend into a food fight. See Catholic Answer Forums for many, many examples of how these things can go wrong.

Chrysostom said...

\\some are reading original languages, some are reading very technical commentaries, some are reading devotional commentaries, and so it often seems that people are talking past each other rather than with each other.\\

Isn't it just possible to denominate, "for this study is going to be used a traditional translation, and we're going to read the sense of the text and the fuller sense" or "this is going to be an exegetical study", or "this is going to be a devotional study", or "this will focus on the original Greek and translation issues"?

I think most people have a devotional commentary (such as Navarre, Haydock, or CCSS for Catholics, or the thousands out there for Protestants), a critical commentary (NJBC or Farmer's IBC), and at least several different translations of the Bible.

The expectations and guidelines just need to be laid down before the work begins. I think the participants on such a blog as this may be more amenable to amicable behaviour than on some internet forums. I know from experience in all of the CAF Bible Studies, a Jew, a Calvinist, or a Muslim comes in, with "twenty-six reasons Jews don't believe in the Messiah", "double predestination", or "your Bible is corrupt, read the Koran" - as there is no screening of who is allowed to say what - and de-rails a thread, as everyone spends the rest of the thread rebutting him.

Of course, there are also those times when it become an argument between lectio divina-style reading and Pope Benedict XVI-style exegesis, or literal and metaphorical hermeneutics, etc. The full-on hermeneutic of suspicion is rare on the pretty conservative CAF.

Also, as I said, I think the problem is 1. No guidelines established, 2. No ways to enforce guidelines, 3. Anyone allowed to say anything and no efficient refereeing mechanism, and 4. Lots and lots of "trolls" of various stripes.