“When you stand up and teach, you are modelling how to interact with God’s word – for better or for worse.” Larry Perkins
This workshop has been challenging to me on many levels at once. As I listened to Mr. Perkins share, I was struck by how much he LOVED the scripture, and so enjoyed his passion for the proper treatment of the Bible when it comes to effectively sharing it with others through preaching or teaching.
What struck me the most is how easy it is for us to just share the words we read in the scripture without a deep consideration and exploration of such things as:
Genre: In this case, the Gospels and Acts are narratives. They share, from different perspectives and with differing purposes the story of Jesus.
Purpose: Why is the author writing? Who are they trying to reach with their words? What do they want their audience to do as a result of reading/hearing their words?
- Luke– Acts: a historical/fact based narrative. Luke was striving to write an account that was trustworthy. (Some interesting questions arise: why was he wanting to write a historical account? One reason is that he was writing it for someone – Theophilus – so that they could know the certainty of what they had been taught.
- Mark – presents a Jewish person crucified who must be acclaimed as Messiah – why did he approach his story in this way? Who was he trying to reach?
- Matthew – emphasis on how Jesus fulfilled the God’s plans for Israel – why did he approach the topic like this? Who is he trying to reach? (Likely Jewish people.)
- John – evangelistic focus.
Connection with the events being narrated, what is the connection between the narrative and the events that are being told? Do we have eye witness accounts, like in Luke? Is the writer using materials from another source in their narrative, and how trustworthy are those sources? I’m thinking of the times Paul borrowed lines from contemporary poets, or used day to day objects to help him spark spiritual conversations with his audience. (The Altar to the unknown God found in Acts 17:23) Are those sources trustworthy? How were these accounts preserved, and how concerned were early Christians with this? (Much was passed down orally.)
Canonical Place: When were these narratives written compared to the other books of the New Testament? In today’s case, most church goers/ believers often think of the gospels as coming first chronologically.
In reality, the gospels aren’t the first things written – there are about 15 years of written production before the gospels came into reality. Paul likely had writings before the gospels were written. – Galatians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians many other epistles. They came before the gospels. However, these writings don’t come first in the NT because the Gospels tell the vital backstory which Paul and other writers have based their writings on.
I learned here that Acts is actually a continuation of Luke, yet I grew up thinking that it was a totally different book that was written by a different person.
We are always dealing with a cross cultural reality when we teach the Bible – it is from another time, place, culture etc. With text only – we are missing all the non-verbal cues. Larry Perkins, PHD.Larry Perkins, PHD.
We must remember that Jesus was Jewish, and he lived, acted, was shaped and educated with this reality.
- Jesus lived in the time of the second temple – when he was nearing the end of his ministry, this second temple was just about to be finished which adds whole layers or conflict when he states that not one stone would be left standing. (Those were fighting words to the Jews who had dedicated so many years to the second temple’s construction.)
- Also recall that Jesus lived in a culture heavily influenced by Romans/Greeks – they were occupied by Roman soldiers, Roman/Greek cities were near and exerted cultural influence. Jesus was a carpenter, a worker who likely would have been part of building things in those cities.
- We must also recall that Jesus was radical – in contrast to the Jewish establishment and rules and context. There was real animosity towards Jesus because of what he said and did – think: the temple was just being finished when he declared that not a stone would remain. You aren’t unclean by what goes into a man, it is what comes out that makes a man unclean, the Jewish leaders presented Jesus as a rebel and trouble maker when they tried to turn him over to the Romans.