The pursuit continues. I’m loving this. All my past attempts at self study of the languages were strong for a few days, and then sputtered out. I had given up hope that I could ever reach the kind of intensity on my own that I experienced while studying with a professor/mentor and other peers (none of whom has surpassed Dr. William Varner in his ability to wrench out of you that conjugation or obscure genitive classification that you read about one day but though you had forgotten. Bravo!).
My approach is being modified a bit, since I have received a summer reading list from Durham. One of the required books is David de Silva’s Honor, Patronage, Kingship and Purity. It seems to be an excellent introduction to the cultural setting of the New Testament, presented in a provocative manner that challenges modern readers’ assumptions about familiar passages. We all have the tendency to read Paul within our own cultural context (be that ‘mericun, Brit, Japanese, Brazilian, Faroe Islands, etc). I’ve enjoyed it so far and suggest you grab a copy to further inform your reading of the NT:
In the introduction to the book, de Silva suggests the following: “The volume will be best used if the reader keeps the New Testament open and refers to each passage that is discussed.” (21) The passages range from one verse to an entire pericope (you know, around 20 verses or so). So I thought, well of course I’m going to do that, and in the Greek!
This would be a suicide move while in the chaos of the semester, but it’s summer. Still, I wonder how I can manage that with normal life responsibilities (helping my wife run her business, 2 highly energetic kids, exercise time, put bread on the table), and still finish this book and the others before September 30 (Durham’s start date) rolls around. I tried this yesterday for about an hour and read only 20 pages or so. It’s worth a shot, and I need the practice.
I will be including this in the summary for each day, because it’ll keep me accountable and might inspire you to do the same.
0845-0900 – Gen 2:15-25 (Hebrew, then LXX Greek)
0900-950 – 1 Cor 10–11 (Greek)
de Silva, 17–32 (all NT scripture references looked up in the Greek. The longest was from Mark 7:1–16. Not too difficult to read, but much slower than just skimming in English. One more reason to do it, as there is great benefit in moving more slowly over familiar material in the scriptures.)
I stopped at 1 Cor 12 because I want to read chs. 12-14 at one sitting. The issue of the gifts still perturbes me, and it’s such a hot issue right now in the church. I don’t plan on coming to any hard and fast conclusions in one practice session, but I will be intentionally reading the passage with regard to 1) the letter’s occasional nature, meaning, it was written for a specific time, place, people and purpose, and 2) “bridges” which carry Paul’s teaching forward to current day application (let the reader understand).