Monday, October 11, 2010

The New Testament in a Year: Titus 1-3, Philemon, and Hebrew 1

For my own personal study, I am using a combination of tools. These include listening to an audio version of the Bible (TNIV) and a series of commentaries in addition to the text itself. I recognize that not everyone will have access to these materials. I can at least provide a link to the Biblical text itself. For this purpose, I've found that BibleGateway.com is a very useful tool. Not only does it include the TNIV, which enables me to link to the same text as what I'm listening to with the audio version, but one can easily switch to another translation (if one so desires) simply by using the drop-down menus. I hope that this is helpful.

Now that I'm reaching the end of the New Testament, books come fast and furious.  This is the week in which we'll be looking at parts of three books in a single week, but believe it or not, that won't be the record!  By the end of the year, there will be a week that tackles parts of four different books in the same week!  This week, I am working through Titus, chapters 1-3, the single chapter of Philemon., and the first chapter of Hebrews.


Titus
Chapter 1
  • Verse 6 -  I'm not a preachers' kid (I guess I am an elder's kid, but don't recall when my parents first became elders.  Perhaps not as late as my leaving for college, but certainly not until I was already reasonably grown-up), but knowing the reputation that "PKs" often have today, I wonder if Paul (see my comments two weeks ago for comments about authorship) understood how difficult growing up as the child of a church leader would be.  (I also note that Paul is telling Titus about the selection of church leaders, and it's certainly different for kids to be brought up--in general--than it is for them to be brought up by people who are already leaders) 
  • Verse 10 - I'm not sure if Paul is suggesting that those who advocate for circumcision (I'm assuming Christians who advocate for a return to Jewish practices, rather than non-Christian Jews1) are prone to rebellion because of their views, but that's certainly how this verse comes off....
  • Verse 12 - A footnote in the TNIV attributes this quote to Cretan philosopher Epimenides.  Apparently this attribution is asserted by several writers in antiquity, but the writings from Epimenides himself seem to no longer exist except in these quotations and attributions by others.2
Chapter 2
  • Verse 5 - Paul suggests that wives should be submissive to husbands.  It is important to note that this letter (as with the other Pastoral Epistles) was written to a specific context (made clear by not only this, but other references within the letters) in which "heretics... have concentrated their attention on women."  This directive must be understood within that context, and "[does] not represent at all the full scope of Paul's approach to women in ministry in the Church."3
Chapter 3
  • Verse 9 - With the way some people absolutize certain instructions found in the biblical texts, I'm kind of surprised not to hear routine blanket prohibitions against doing family trees!  I guess people are somehow able to discern that Paul must be complaining about genealogies for some specific reason....
Philemon
  • Verses 10-11 - Paul is having some fun playing off of the literal meaning of the slave Onesimus' (assumed?) name: "useful." 
  • Verse 14 - Paul tells Philemon that he's not trying to force Philemon into anything, and is seeking a "voluntary" response.  Even so, it's hard to ignore the impression that Paul expects a particular response!
  • Verse 22 - "And don't think I'm not going to find out how you responded!"
Hebrews
Chapter 1
  • I count no fewer than seven Old Testament references in this chapter alone (admittedly with the help of the footnotes)!

1See A. T. Hanson, The Pastoral Epistles (The New Century Bible Commentary), Eerdmans, 1982, p. 175, for a similar view.
2See Hanson, p. 176.
3David M. Scholer, "Male Headship: God's Intention or Man's Invention?" in WATCHword, Vol. 12, No. 1 (February/March 1988), p. 7.

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