I'm doing a variety of studies right now, and I'm starting another study called "Hoffin' It Through Hebrews." I think I just crave this kind of study and teaching, and there's been a void ever since my committee called me "Doctor" last year.
Bur first, Journey through John is a verse-by-verse study through the book of John. It's done by way of 2-minute videos and each video covers a single verse. It's hard to pack too much into a two-minute video, but it is a good amount to start your day with a verse of the Bible. And you can do it in the natural environment of the human condition--staring at your phone. Interested? Subscribe and receive a daily email, Monday through Friday, with the verse and a link to watch the day's video. Or you can subscribe to the video channel.
I'm also working on an in-depth study on the topic of elders, deacons, pastors, overseers, and the various responsibilities as we see them in the Bible (and early Church Fathers). There's a lot of discussions out there so I'm really only adding to the white noise, but I'm not campaigning for a theological camp. Rather, I'm trying to break free of my "camp-thinking" and explore this study on my own, with none of the camp leader's voices chiming in. It's an area in my thinking that has needed this kind of study for some time. I'm calling the study "Exploring Eldership." It's coming by way of SaltyBeliever.com posts as I have the material worked out.
Of course, there's always Salty Believer Unscripted. If you're not tuning in to that, you're missing out. We've had great guests and we have a line up of more fantastic guests. It's a 20-minute unscripted conversation with pastors, theologians, missionaries, and many others. We hit record and chat. Join in. You won't regret it.
And now I'm starting a study at the church where I pastor called Hoofin' It Through Hebrews. I've opted to post the handouts in the classes and reflections section of this website and I'll be posting things from this study along the journey. (Download this week's handout here.) This study is a Bible Study for a Sunday School format. It's in-depth over a few verses. I've set a goal for the class that we'll dig in enough to practice a good Bible study to learn study tool along the way, but we'll also learn the book of Hebrews.
The first class is only going to look at the first two verses of the book because I'd like to start with the prolegomena. What's prolegomena? That's a fancy word used by some theologians and biblical scholars to say introduction in detail. It means the things spoke before or the necessary things beforehand. It's more than a simple introduction like you find printed on the back of a book. It's detailed.
Why start with an introduction like this? Because a good introduction hands topics like the title, date, authorship or destination, audience, circumstance or occasion or provenance or purpose, background, structure or outline, theme, content or text, literary features, contribution, adoption into the cannon, and history of study or controversy.
It might surprise you to learn that a great deal of scholarship and even debate has gone into every topic. Take something as simple as the title of the book of Hebrews. It didn't come with a title originally, but it was given one at some point. The traditional title is "To the Hebrews." This suggests that the letter (if that's what it is) was written to people who have a Jewish background and would understand the sacrificial system and the history of the Hebrew people. That seems to follow when you read the book. But it's not always this simple. For example, the title of the book of John was not original. If you had a copy without the title, you would have no idea what the author's name is because he only refers to himself as the "beloved disciple" or "the disciple Jesus loved." It is only by way of the synoptic gospels that we have figured out his name. But the early church knew it was John and they referred to that book as the book of John.
Many other aspects of an introduction are helpful too. The date tends to be a really big deal when it comes to a time before or after 70 AD. That's when the temple was destroyed. So references to the temple practices might have been heard by the intended audience differently depending on when it happened. We thought of terrorism a little differently before 9-11. Reading that word when it was written before 9-11 had slightly different significance than after.
I could get into much more, but you'll get the idea if you get into the practice of reading the introductions in your Study Bible. I even encourage you to get a second Study Bible published by a different publisher so you can compare introductions. Read the introduction chapters in any commentaries you own. And if you're really feeling ambitious, considering purchasing an introduction. You can find commentaries and introductions in the recommended books section of SaltyBeliever.com.
I'm looking forward to this additional study. Any time you see the "Hoofin It Through Hebrews" posts, it will be something from or for this study. If you're interested, be sure to keep an eye out for those. And if you'd like to learn more about Bible study tools, subscribe to our YouTube channel because more videos are coming.