I’ve been having an interesting time preparing for my study tonight, and I’m feeling the boundaries of a 1/2 hour study. Most people will probably be glad. In order to make this work, however, you’ll need to read the material suggested. In this case, the “Introduction” from Meditations on the Letters of Paul by Herold Weiss and “Becoming Galatian: Spiritual Practices for Reading Galatians,” and Lesson 1: Introduction and Background,” from Galatians: A Participatory Study Guide by Bruce Epperly. The scripture passage will be Galatians 1:1-5, but it would be a good idea to read the entire book—it’s only 6 chapters—and also read and compare the introductions to other letters of Paul, whether disputed or not. Just start at Romans and read the first verse or two of each book until you get to Hebrews.
I’m finding the idea of posting two or three times on this topic during the week difficult, but that’s not a reason to abandon it. It’s important to allow topics to percolate, and one of my bad habits is to study the material on Thursday morning. In this case, I have looked at it some before today, but not enough, and I intend to change that.
But for tonight we’re going to look broadly at what is contained in the reading material and then focus on what made Paul an apostle, what made his letters authoritative for the church, and the nature of these letters as evidence. I’ll also touch on why I’m using Galatians, besides the fact that I think Epperly’s study guide is the right sort of challenging material to get us out of a rut on how we read the book. I think Herold Weiss similarly challenges our standard approaches (read his article Paul Did not Teach Righteousness by Faith), but he does son on a broader basis. We’re going to use Epperly’s more focused book to get to Weiss’s broader understanding.
Note here that I don’t mean that we will necessarily agree with either one. Rather, I’m looking at the focus and at ways of getting us each to let Paul’s writings speak to us. We will never completely discard our background. Yet we can try to give the scriptures the greatest possible chance to change us. That is the goal of this study.
Here’s the video embed: