We are back in our classroom, second floor of the educational wing, last door on the left and the coffee pot has been moved in. On March 25th we had the introductory lecture in a series on “The Holy Land Revealed.” Professor Jodi Magness of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an archeologist, is our lecturer. There was an unanimous “thumbs up” from the attendees; we believe you’ll agree.
The Adult Bible Study class sessions are designed around four basic themes:
1- Taking thee text of the Bible very seriously, understanding that all of the biblical texts now available to the average reader are translations — and in some sense are really paraphrases — of the best copies of the original languages, Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New, generally speaking. Using whatever translation each class member has at hand, we seek to read what that text actually says, not what we have been used to having it say.
2- Attempting to understand what “the first readers” of that text understood it to mean, we try to take into account not only the texts that precede and follow it, but also the general theme of the letter or gospel in which the text is found. Further, we try to take into account how the meanings of words not only have changed, but are changing even during our lifetimes. Now and then we will, in the New Testament, go to the Greek language that was translated in order to better understand the meaning. For example, we use our word “love” to translate three different Greek words that have significantly different meanings.
3- Recognizing that a particular text comes out of a particular time, culture, and circumstance, and that we respond to it out of our time, culture, and circumstance, we seek to take note of these facts and, from time to time, use various materials to help us better understand these contexts both in the biblical times and in our own. That is partially why we are presently using DVD lectures about the universe in which God has placed us, and may well follow it with portions of a DVD lecture series on “The Holy Land Revealed,” an illustrated study of a geographic area that includes modern Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories.
4- Believing that we learn best in an “open” atmosphere, our usual classroom is set up with chairs around a U-shape arrangement of tables, and provided with excellent coffee and the extras (on occasion we have been known to have cookies). We welcome late arrivals — including the teacher– and we are accepting of questions, comments, and even disagreements.
We are a cross-section of ages, biblical knowledge, and willingness to speak up, take notes, etc. We like to think that we are a welcoming group and that newcomers will find it so; we invite you to join us when we return to our regular classroom and while we are in the sanctuary. While there is value in regular attendance, that is not required, as any class member can and will tell you; we come and go as needed or desire dictate; the coffee is usually ready by 9:20 or so.