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Bible - Bible – Pluses and Minuses

  1. In contrast with most Christians1, I have actually read2 the whole Bible through a few times, some passages hundreds of times. However, when my Christian faith unravelled in the early 1990s I stopped reading the Bible, and now have some difficulty remembering the Chapters and Verses.
  2. What I have attempted – and achieved – over the past year (2013) is to read the Bible through again with fresh eyes. This time "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". In general, the Bible is a ripping good read, and deserves to be more widely read as literature.
  3. What I had intended – but not achieved – was to jot down all the things that are troublesome, without ignoring the passages that impress. Maybe someone has answers to the difficulties (though I doubt it).
  4. So, having re-read the entire Bible to remind myself of what’s there, I intend to go through it all again, but this time with some heavy-duty “Introductions” as guides to (fairly) current opinion, from the perspectives of Liberal and Conservative Christian scholars, and likewise for Jews. Items on the agenda3:-
  5. Incidentally, I don’t have a huge amount of time for this exercise, and I won’t be writing a Bible commentary, or even reading any of them.
  6. The idea is to plough on to complete this part of the exercise in three10 years. No doubt my jottings will be superficial. But something’s better than nothing. I have a feeling that there are lots of “problems” with the Bible, but I need to make plain what these are.
  7. There follows a list of all the books in the Bible. Clicking on the links will reveal what I have to say, which in most cases is nothing. In the first instance I’ve just taken the (very brief) summaries from "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version" and occasionally added a comment.
  8. I need to develop a method11 whereby the “Pluses and Minuses” are readily visible, rather than hidden away in a straggle of text. Anyway, here goes.

Old Testament
  1. Genesis12
  2. Exodus13
  3. Leviticus14
  4. Numbers15
  5. Deuteronomy16
  6. Joshua17
  7. Judges18
  8. Ruth19
  9. 1 Samuel20
  10. 2 Samuel21
  11. 1 Kings22
  12. 2 Kings23
  13. 1 Chronicles24
  14. 2 Chronicles25
  15. Ezra26
  16. Nehemiah27
  17. Esther28
  18. Psalms29
  19. Proverbs30
  20. Job31
  21. Ecclesiastes32
  22. Song of Songs33
  23. Isaiah34
  24. Jeremiah35
  25. Lamentations36
  26. Ezekiel37
  27. Daniel38
  28. Hosea39
  29. Joel40
  30. Amos41
  31. Obadiah42
  32. Jonah43
  33. Micah44
  34. Nahum45
  35. Habakkuk46
  36. Zephaniah47
  37. Haggai48
  38. Zechariah49
  39. Malachi50

New Testament
  1. Matthew51
  2. Mark52
  3. Luke53
  4. John54
  5. Acts55
  6. Romans56
  7. 1 Corinthians57
  8. 2 Corinthians58
  9. Galatians59
  10. Ephesians60
  11. Philippians61
  12. Colossians62
  13. 1 Thessalonians63
  14. 2 Thessalonians64
  15. 1 Timothy65
  16. 2 Timothy66
  17. Titus67
  18. Philemon68
  19. Hebrews69
  20. James70
  21. 1 Peter71
  22. 2 Peter72
  23. 1 John73
  24. 2 John74
  25. 3 John75
  26. Jude76
  27. Revelation77



In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: With some regret, I don’t think I can count myself any longer as a Christian. Click here for Note for a discussion with a friend back in 2007 which explains my reasons in some detail.

Footnote 3: This is rather a lot. We’ll see how we progress.

Footnote 4: This is the text I’ve just read (in 2013). I won’t read it through again this time round, but will use it and the notes to supply a conservative Christian perspective on passages of disputed interpretation.

Footnote 5: This is described as for those Jews of the “Conservative, Reformed or Reconstructionist” persuasions. According to the Publisher’s blurb, “Orthodox” Jews also were involved in the translation of the Text, which is the one I shall read as my primary text for the OT. So, presumably, there’s a distinction between “Conservative” and “Orthodox” Jews. Currently, I’ve no idea what Reconstructionist Jews believe, but will no doubt find out.

Footnote 6: Nothing to say, yet. I’ve had this book some time, and have not looked at it much. It seems rather dull.

Footnote 7: Very liberal, in fact, and less scholarly than many (though far from “popular”). But opinionated and stimulating.

Footnote 8: Nothing to say, yet. I’ve had this book some time, and have not looked at it much. It seems rather dull.

Footnote 9: Maybe oddly, this will be my primary text for reading the New Testament.

Footnote 10: I originally thought “two years”, but it won’t be enough. I’ll need some sort of plan to achieve even this, but given my propensity to produce elaborate plans that lead nowhere, I’ll skip the plan until I’ve got some momentum together.

Footnote 11: It’ll no doubt be possible, but this is another task awaiting sufficient “momentum” to be worthwhile.

Note last updated: 24/06/2014 09:25:55


Footnote 2: (Biblical Languages)

I also went to the trouble of learning the rudiments of Greek and Hebrew (and a bit of Syriac as a proxy for the Aramaic). It has always astonished me that intelligent fundamentalist Christians can’t be bothered to do this. If you really believed that the Bible contained the living oracles of God, and that it is the text in the original languages that is inspired (not the New King James Version, or New International Version), then why wouldn’t you bother to learn the languages? After all, that’s the text that’s supposed to be inspired. Maybe life’s too short, or it’s too hard, or it’s someone else’s job. Piffle. Any devout Muslim will learn classical Arabic, ditto for Jews and Hebrew.

I imagine this is a historical accident. Everyone in the early church spoke Greek, and the belief was that the Septuagint was inspired, so there was no need to learn Hebrew. Then the authority of the church meant that, after Jerome had produced the Vulgate by translation from the original languages, all you needed was Latin. Finally, the reformation rightly insisted that everyone be able to read the Bible in their native language. But that doesn’t excuse the educated from returning to the source text.

Interestingly, the Carthusian liturgy is (naturally) in Latin – partly because the native languages of the monks in any one community tend to vary – so you need to know Latin. But one of the Novices (a South African in his mid 50’s) objected to me during the weekly walk – “why would you want to talk to someone you love in a language you don’t understand”. The Novices were taught Latin for that very purpose, but he wasn’t finding it easy. I knew the rudiments from school, but that’s a long way from being able to think in the language.

As another aside, evangelical Christians could learn a thing or two from the Carthusians on prayer, as talking to someone you love. The average evangelical prayer meeting seems to involve preaching little positive sermons in doctrinally correct words borrowed from someone else, when your heart is full of anguish that you aren’t allowed to express. I doubt God listens to such stuff.

Note last updated: 12/08/2007 10:17:46


Footnote 12: (Genesis)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books.

    As its name implies this book is about origins or beginnings — of the universe, of the different nations, of sin, and of the Jewish people. The first eleven chapters reach back to the beginning of time and deal with questions that we all ask1:
    • Who made the world?
    • Where did we come from?
    • Why is there suffering and evil in the world?
  1. In chapters 12-50 we move from the general (the human race) to the particular as we learn how God moved into the chaos and confusion and chose one man, Abraham. God directed him to settle in the land of Israel and he and his descendants, Isaac and Jacob, are known as the patriarchs (fathers) or founders of Israel. Jacob's twelve sons are the beginnings of the twelve tribes. Through Joseph, one of his sons, the whole family settle in Egypt.

As might be anticipated, I start off with a lot of complaints about the first Chapter. Note that all these gripes are only necessary if we’re supposed to take the text literally, and really show that a literal reading is impossible. However, if the reading is not literal, what is intended? Is this just an improvement on the Enuma Elish (Web Link (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/En%C3%BBma_Eli%C5%A1)), or a repudiation of the polytheism of Egypt and “the nations”?

Chapter 1
  1. Verses 1-2: Just when is “the beginning” supposed to be in this story? What are “the heavens” – the sky, the visible universe, all there is apart from the Earth, “heaven”? What is “the Deep”, and why is it there in the beginning? How can the Spirit of God “hover” over anything in any literal sense?
    • Note that I’m aware that there is an interpretation that places a divide between verses 1 and 2, with the Earth becoming without form and void some unspecified time after the initial creation. But if the first fall had already taken place, how could all then subsequently be “very good”?
  2. Verses 3-5: Light – where did this light come from? What is intended? If this was the first light after the Big Bang, there could have been no darkness. So, it presupposes the existence of the Sun, not created until day 4. Also, evening and morning, day and night presuppose the rotation of the Earth in the light of the Sun. Creation revealed in 6/7 days gets round this objection, but seems a bit of a wheeze.
  3. Verses 6-8: What is the firmament/Expanse? The sky? Or heaven? Is this an attempt to explain the etymological similarity between the Hebrew for heaven (shamayim) and sea (mayim)? What are the waters above the firmament? Is this folk-physics describing rainfall? Or is there supposed to be a lot of water above the firmament that only came down in the great flood. Then, wouldn’t the earth have been dark, as are the depths of the oceans? How would the sun have been seen?
  4. Verses 9-13: What does one place mean for the gathering of the waters? Does the writer know of seas other than the Mediterranean? Note the Hebrew for Sea is already plural. Note that the grass is created before the Sun, though I imagine it’s supposed to photosynthesise in the primaeval light.
  5. Verses 14 – 19: The creation of the Sun and Moon after the Earth is crazy in the case of the Sun. It really shows that this cannot possibly be a description of creation, but what else could it be that makes sense of the sequence? Note that the Sun and Moon are set in the expanse / heaven, above which are waters. How is this supposed to work? “Stars also” – a bit brief; surely this betrays an ignorance of what the stars are.
  6. Verses 20-23: Does the writer know that whales are mammals? Or are they not whales? Incidentally, what happened to sea mammals in the Flood. Where they allowed a dispensation or were they somehow berthed there? The passage doesn’t seem to acknowledge man’s part in the domestication of animals, and the morphological changes of selective breeding.
  7. Verses 24-31: In what sense is man made in the image of God? No acknowledgement is made of the continuity between homo sapiens and the other great apes. Being given dominion is a convenient vindication of exploitation. How was this economy that was “very good” supposed to hold together? Were there parasites and carnivores?


Chapter 2
  1. Verses 1-6: No rain, but springs to water the ground. Not very likely; also doesn’t seem to fit the whole Earth – but maybe it’s only talking about a small area only, the garden of Eden? Does this help?
  2. Verses 7-9: the trees of life and of. How can these be literal?
    • Tree of Life: even if this tree did have medicinal properties, how could it make anyone live for ever (it’s unclear whether one taste or continual access was required). To think otherwise would be to attribute completely different laws of nature, which changed with the fall of man.
    • Tree of the knowledge of good and evil: it’s even more difficult to see how a tree could give genuine knowledge of anything (though one could imagine various psychoactive substances giving a false impression of knowledge).
  3. Verses 10-14: what is the source of the water for these rivers? Why a single source for Tigris and Euphrates? Interesting philosophical questions about what makes a river the same river. This seems to be a folk tale about the origin of two important rivers, but would these have survived the flood as the same rivers (eg. if they suddenly changed their courses and sources)? Also, gold – this forms in seams as a result of the escape of volcanic gasses, and mention of which appears to be absent from the narrative.
  4. Verses 15-17: Just what is the objection to ethical knowledge?
  5. Verse 18: A fountainhead of patriarchy. Are women merely the helpers of their men-folk?
  6. Verses 19-20: how would Adam have had the time and ingenuity to dream up all these names? No mention of “kinds”, which would have shortened the job. Why don’t fish need names? What language (pre-Babel)? Presumably the assumption is that Hebrew is the proto-language – see verse 23. This passage is repugnant to evolutionary theory, where species are not immutable, nor tightly defined (“members of an interbreeding community” is a non-transitive relation).
  7. Verses 20-23: this account of the origin of the origin of woman is incredible. It pays no attention to the continuity of homo sapiens and other species of mammal, which reproduce sexually without the need for the special creation of a first partner. Or maybe, since God is portrayed as specially-creating all these inter-related species, it’s not much of a stretch to suggest that he created the pairs separately as well. Once you’ve trained yourself to believe one unlikely thing, what’s the difficulty with accepting a few more? Also, the folk-etymology (man / woman; ish / ishah) only works in Hebrew.
  8. Verses 24-25: this is an odd reason to give for origin of sexual reproduction in humans, or at least a less satisfying one than that given by evolutionary theory.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: And, it might be said, gives rather unenlightening (some would say “plain wrong”) answers, at least in matters of specifics.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 13: (Exodus)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    The centre-piece of this book is God's deliverance of emergent Israel from Egypt and the book's name means ‘going out'. Some four hundred years separate Genesis and Exodus, during which time Egyptian attitudes to the settlers changed from peaceful co-existence to hostility and oppression. Moses emerged to lead God's people out of Egypt, their destination being the land of Israel. At the mountain of Sinai God gave Moses the laws which were to form the basis of the newly-formed nation's life. These are summed up in the Ten Commandments.
This is a place-holder1.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 13.1: (Awaiting Attention (Bible))

This note is simply a place-holder, the point of which is to use the jump-table facility that appears dynamically at the bottom of this note to keep tabs on the areas of this website (within the above Note-Group) that await the most urgent attention.

If the table “Links to this Page” only contains the “Awaiting Attention” item, this means that there are no items waiting attention (since the “Awaiting Attention” item is the one that only links to pages such as this one).

Note last updated: 10/11/2007 13:17:46


Footnote 14: (Leviticus)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This is a book of further laws or rules, mainly for Israel's worship, and in particular about sacrifice and the priesthood. A keyword is ‘holiness', for the intention of the laws was to help the people relate to God and in so doing to reflect his character in daily life.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 15: (Numbers)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    The first ten chapters continue in the legal atmosphere of Leviticus. The name of the book arises from the various censuses or numberings taken prior to breaking camp and leaving Sinai. The remaining chapters are a sad record of almost forty years wandering in the desert and of complaints and rebellion against Moses and God.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 16: (Deuteronomy)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    The setting of the book is the border of the land of Israel. It is presented as three sermons of Moses in which he surveys the journey from Egypt, the people's rebellion and God's patient loyalty. He restates and underlines some of the laws of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers (thus the book's title, which means 'second law-giving'), and stresses the need for obedience after they have settled in Israel. The book closes with some final words of Moses and his death.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 17: (Joshua)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    The first twelve chapters tell us about the initial occupation of Israel under its new leader, Joshua. The remaining chapters outline the planned territorial division among the twelve tribes. Many of the native people still had to be conquered.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 18: (Judges)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This book continues the story of the conquest of the land of Israel which involved conflict with various tribes both in and around Israel. Interwoven in the account is the constant disobedience to God alternating with a turning back to him, and his patient loyalty which is demonstrated in various leaders (called 'judges') who emerged to rally the tribes to fight their enemies.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 19: (Ruth)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This is a story of family loyalty and loyalty to God and to his laws. It is set in the same period as Judges. The central character, Ruth, was not an Israelite but came to believe in God and, through her marriage to an Israelite called Boaz, became the great-grandmother of David and an ancestor of Jesus.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 20: (1 Samuel)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

  1. The first and second books of Samuel recount Israel's history in the crucial transition from intermittent leadership to monarchy. The books take their name from the prophet who appointed the first two kings, Saul and David.
  2. 1 Samuel picks up from the book of Judges and shows how the continued harassment from neighbouring tribes made the people ask for a king.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 21: (2 Samuel)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This is about Israel's second, and best known king, David. The book opens against a background of civil war following the death of Saul in battle. Later in the book we read of intrigue among David's sons over the succession. It was David who established Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 22: (1 Kings)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

  1. The two books of Kings cover the history of Israel over a period of almost four hundred years.
  2. The first eleven chapters of 1 Kings concern David's son, Solomon, the third king of Israel. His importance centres on his building of the Jerusalem Temple, the focal point of Israel's worship. His son, Rehoboam, inherited a dissatisfied nation and due to his foolish attitude ten of the tribes formed them-selves into a separate state under a former official of Solomon's called Jeroboam. Subsequently this state is known as Israel, or the Northern Kingdom, and the remaining two tribes as Judah, or the Southern Kingdom. The history of these two states is recounted in interwoven accounts in the remaining chapters of 1 and 2 Kings. Elijah, an important prophet, dominates the end of 1 Kings.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 23: (2 Kings)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    The death of Elijah and the emergence of the prophet Elisha occupy the early chapters of 2 Kings. The remaining sweep of the history covers some three hundred years, and from a religious point of view is all downhill apart from one or two religious revivals promoted by the reigning monarch. The end of the Northern Kingdom comes a century and a half before that of Judah, but in both cases it is understood as the inevitable punishment for turning away from God.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 24: (1 Chronicles)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    The two books of Chronicles cover the same period as Samuel and Kings but from a particular point of view. The writer, known as 'The Chronicler', shows that David laid the foundations of Israel's worship even though he did not build the Temple. In the first nine chapters he uses family trees to trace the history of Israel from Adam to the return from Exile to show that Judah is the true people of God.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 25: (2 Chronicles)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    Solomon, the builder of the Temple, is the subject of chapters 1-9. It becomes obvious in the remaining chapters that interest lies only in the history of Judah, through whom God would continue his purpose. Special attention is also given to kings who promoted religious reform. The end of the book goes beyond 2 Kings as it hints that the period in exile in Babylon is about to end. Persia has taken over the Babylonian empire.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 26: (Ezra)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This follows on in time immediately from 2 Chronicles. The Persian king has issued a decree which allows the Jews to return to Israel and to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple. In chapters 3-6 we learn that initially the altar was rebuilt and sacrifices resumed but opposition halted the temple rebuilding for many years. Finally, it was completed and dedicated. Sometime later (chapters 7-10) Ezra, an expert on the Jewish law was sent from Babylon to help and guide the newly-established community. The main problem was that the Jews were intermarrying with other nations, thereby threatening the survival of national identity.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 27: (Nehemiah)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    Another leader in establishing the new community, Nehemiah organised the rebuilding of the walls round Jerusalem, so vital to its security (chapters 1-7). Once this was done Ezra read the law (from the first five books of the Bible) to the people and led them in a confession of their disobedience to God and then to a promise to obey him in the future (chapters 8-10). Nehemiah also carried through several social reforms (chapters 11-13).
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 28: (Esther)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    The setting of this story is the Persian king's palace in the same period as Ezra–Nehemiah. Esther, a Jew, became a Persian queen and was able to save the Jews in the Persian empire from a plot to exterminate them.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 29: (Psalms)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    Here are sacred songs, poems and prayers which originated in Israel's worship and her experience of God. They are traditionally associated with David but reflect centuries of individual and corporate responses to God. Human emotions of anger, despair, sadness, guilt, doubt, joy, praise and adoration are expressed. Themes include the Law, Jerusalem and its Temple, Israel's history, the natural world, human suffering and God's justice.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 13:26:24


Footnote 30: (Proverbs)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    The first nine chapters are written as though a father, or perhaps a teacher, is giving advice to a son or student. After this each verse presents a proverb as we know proverbs today — concise, common sense and often witty statements about wise, successful living. Dominant themes include: poverty, justice, pride, self-control, drunkenness, anger, speaking wisely.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 31: (Job)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    The story of Job is found in the first two and the last chapter of the book. Satan is allowed to bring several major tragedies into the life of this good and religious man. The main section of the book is a discussion between Job and three friends (a fourth makes a brief appearance) as to why Job has suffered so much trouble. The questions raised are not only about human suffering but about God: is he fair? Is he even good? Traditional, trite answers are shown to be inadequate.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 32: (Ecclesiastes)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    The name of this book means something like 'The Teacher' and the central word is 'meaningless'. The writer examines every aspect of life: wealth, social position, professional success and pleasure and concludes that they are futile because of the fact of death which comes to everyone. The only positive suggestion is that we should enjoy whatever God has given us, and in 12:13 the Teacher states his conclusion: 'Fear God and keep his Commandments'.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 33: (Song of Songs)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This is presented in poetic form as a 'song' about the wonder of sexual love. There are at least two individual speakers, a man and a woman, and a group called 'friends'. There are conversations between them, but also thoughts of each lover about the other. Many see the Song as a symbol of God's love for his people.
This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 34: (Isaiah)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

  1. This book relates to a period of some three hundred years. Chapters 1-39 are set in the closing years of the Northern Kingdom when Judah was still relatively safe. Isaiah worked in Jerusalem warning its people that God's judgment must fall on them because of social injustice and religious hypocrisy. To successive kings of Judah he advised dependence on God's guidance and protection rather than on political alliances with foreign nations. Jerusalem is spared the same fate as the Northern Kingdom for the time being.
  2. Chapters 40-55 are concerned with the Jewish exiles in Babylon. The message is one of comfort: God is about to do something new and the punishment and pain of the past are over. The return to the land of Israel will recall the deliverance from Egypt.
  3. In the final section of the book, which is set in the period after the temple had been rebuilt, there is evidence that the new community is in danger of slipping back into old patterns of behaviour. Alongside warnings is a vision of the greatness of God and his plans for the blessing of the Jews and, through them, of all nations.
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Footnote 35: (Jeremiah)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This prophet worked in the closing years of Judah. His message was one of warning: God's judgment must come if the people persist in rebelling against him. Indeed, judgment has become inevitable and they would be wise to recognise that God was using Babylon to punish them. When the ruling classes were exiled to Babylon Jeremiah told them that God would work out his plans through the exiles. At the same time he tried to encourage those who remained in Judah to accept their fate, but his words fell on deaf ears. Within the book we have several insights into what this unpopular prophet was thinking and feeling.
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Footnote 36: (Lamentations)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This is a funeral song about the devastated city of Jerusalem, possibly written by Jeremiah. Each chapter is a complete poem and in each the mood changes from anguish and despair in the recognition that punishment was deserved, to hope in God's love and mercy. Prayer is made that God will once again show these to his people.
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Footnote 37: (Ezekiel)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This prophet was exiled to Babylon and his work was among the exiles there. He may have been a priest and a key theme of the book is God's holiness. The book is full of strange symbolism, visions and accounts of how the prophet often presented his message through drama. Roughly, the first thirty-three chapters convey a similar message to that of Jeremiah and at a similar period: Jerusalem will be captured by Babylon and the temple will be destroyed. Once this had taken place Ezekiel's message was one of comfort (chapters 33-39): God will bring back his people to their own country one day. Meanwhile, in Babylon they will learn that God can be worshipped even though there is no temple or they cannot offer sacrifice. Chapters 40-48 are a detailed vision of the future which centres on the Temple.
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Footnote 38: (Daniel)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    Daniel was also an exile in Babylon but was chosen to live in the Babylonian court and to train for the civil service. Despite this privilege we learn that Daniel, and later three of his friends, refused to give up their Jewish faith. God blessed their loyalty and Daniel was respected and consulted by the Babylonian, and later the Persian kings, particularly because of his ability to interpret dreams. The second part of the book (chapters 7-12) includes some detailed visions full of strange symbols and not always easy to interpret.
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Footnote 39: (Hosea)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This prophet lived and worked in the Northern Kingdom in the closing years of its existence. Through his own experience of a broken marriage Hosea gained a deep insight into Israel's relationship to God. The covenant made at Sinai was like a marriage but like Hosea's own wife Israel had left God to worship Canaanite gods. Hosea speaks movingly of the sadness God feels because of his love for Israel even though she deserves to be punished.
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Footnote 40: (Joel)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    We are not sure when Joel lived. In chapter 1 he speaks of the devastation caused by a plague of locusts. This may have been a real event or a vision but in either case it is a symbol of the invading army which God will use to punish his people (2:1-11). Joel calls the people to turn back to God while there is still time and speaks of a special outpouring of God's Spirit (2:12-32). Chapter 3 concerns a final and universal judgment.
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Footnote 41: (Amos)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This prophet came from the Southern Kingdom but worked in the Northern Kingdom slightly earlier than Hosea. In chapters 1-2 he speaks of God's judgment on the surrounding nations but also on the complacent Northern Kingdom. In chapter 3 he announces that God has broken off the covenant agreement with his people in the Northern Kingdom and the next few chapters show why: oppression, social injustice, religious hypocrisy. Five visions (chapters 7-9) show that there is still time to turn back to God, but in the last two visions punishment is inevitable. A hope for something beyond God's judgment is expressed in the last few verses.
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Footnote 42: (Obadiah)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This is the shortest Old Testament book and we know nothing about the prophet. The theme is the punishment of Edom, which lay to the south-east of the Dead Sea. The Edomites were descendants of Esau and thus related to the Israelites, yet they were longstanding enemies. The reference in this book suggests that when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonian army in 587 B.C. the Edomites did nothing to help and maybe even took some advantage of Judah's fate. While Edom disappeared from history Obadiah foretells the return of Israel to her own land.
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Footnote 43: (Jonah)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    God told the prophet Jonah to go and warn the people of Nineveh, capital of Assyria (a cruel enemy of Israel) that God was going to punish her. After attempts to evade God's orders Jonah reluctantly preached in the city and the Ninevites turned to God. Jonah was furious with God for showing mercy to such wicked people and God tries to demonstrate to the prophet that he feels compassion even for Israel's enemies.
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Footnote 44: (Micah)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This prophet lived and worked a little later than Amos and Hosea and about the same time as Isaiah and what he has to say is very similar to them. He worked in the Southern Kingdom and condemned social injustice and inequality, and corruption among the political and religious leaders. God must punish his people but beyond that Micah speaks of a future which will centre on the Jerusalem temple when a descendant of David will emerge to lead God's people against her enemies (chapters 4-7). 6:6-8 seems to sum up the message, not only of Micah, but of all the prophets of this period.
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Footnote 45: (Nahum)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This prophet announces the destruction of Nineveh, capital of Assyria. In the opening verses Nahum speaks of God as 'slow to anger' but also that he will 'not leave the guilty unpunished'. It is for this reason that God must now punish Nineveh for extreme cruelty. Chapters 2 and 3 are a poem about the siege of Nineveh. This took place in 612 B.C.
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Footnote 46: (Habakkuk)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    Because Habakkuk mentions Babylon (1:6) it is assumed that he worked at the end of the seventh century B.C. The prophet questions God about his justice: why does he turn a blind eye to cruelty and wickedness? How can he use wicked people to punish people who are better than them? God gives no direct answer (chapter 2) but promises that one day he will punish all oppression and injustice. Chapter 3 is a poem about God coming to punish all wickedness and concludes with a statement by the prophet of his trust in God, no matter what happens.
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Footnote 47: (Zephaniah)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    Zephaniah worked just before Jeremiah. The theme of the book is God's universal judgment. Chapter 1 deals with the judgment of Israel but 2:1-3 promises that this may be averted if they turn back to God. The remainder of chapter 2 foretells the punishment of some of Israel's neighbours. Beyond the judgment of Jerusalem the prophet sees hope (chapter 3).
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Footnote 48: (Haggai)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    Haggai and Zechariah belong to the same period (520 B.C.). Many Jews had returned to Israel to rebuild their national life. Initially they worked with enthusiasm but opposition brought the work of rebuilding the Temple to a standstill. Haggai rallied the people, showing that the economic difficulties they were experiencing were because they had their priorities wrong. The important thing for their national life was God's 'house' and God had greater things in store if they would only learn to put him first.
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Footnote 49: (Zechariah)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    Like Haggai, this prophet encouraged the people to take up the work they had left off and complete the Temple building. His messages are given in a series of visions in chapters 1-8 and concern other issues as well as the rebuilding. Chapters 9-14 are in a different form, more typical of prophetic messages. Their theme is the future age: Israel's deliverance, God's triumph and the work of the Messiah.
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Footnote 50: (Malachi)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This book indicates that after the time of Haggai and Zechariah things deteriorated again. The people felt disappointed with God (1:2-5), the religious leaders were corrupt and slipshod in their duties (1:6-2:9), and everybody disobedient to God's laws (2:10-16) while at the same time treating him with contempt (2:17-3:18). Chapter 4 looks forward to the time when injustice will be dealt with and those who are loyal to God will be restored.
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Footnote 51: (Matthew)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

  1. The first three Gospels follow a similar pattern and are often known as the 'Synoptic Gospels' because they 'see together' the life of Jesus. Yet each has its own particular emphasis.
  2. Matthew begins by tracing Jesus' family history back to Abraham and recounts various incidents concerned with Jesus' birth (chapters 1-2). His is a carefully organised Gospel and he is especially interested in what Jesus said: the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7), parables about the kingdom of heaven (chapter 13) and parables about the end of time (chapter 25). He also shows that Jesus is the Messiah spoken of in the Old Testament.


I’m also plodding through "Levine (Amy-Jill) & Brettler (Marc Zvi), Eds. - The Jewish Annotated New Testament", and am jotting down anything I find particularly significant:-
  1. Matthew does not appear to be a translation from an original Hebrew text, but “does have a strong knowledge of and attachment to Jewish Scripture, tradition, and belief”.
  2. The Gospel parallels Jesus and Moses, and the introduction provides several interesting parallels (which I’ll pick up in due course). It also suggests that the Gospel portrays Jesus as the shekhinah.
  3. The Gospel uses rabbinic exegetical rules - qal vahomer and binyan ‘av.
  4. It thinks that the Gospel represents the tensions between the Jewish Church and Jewish Synagogue immediately after the destruction of AD70, when the survival of Judaism was in doubt, and that the “children” on whom Jesus’ blood was upon were the Jews that witnessed the destruction of the Temple.
  5. Genealogy: it is noted that Ahaziah, Joash and Amaziah (as well as Jehoiakin and Zedekiah) are omitted to make the generations add up to 14 (which is the gematriah of “David”).
  6. Virgin Birth: there’s a box discussing the usual matters about Hezekiah (or Isaiah’s own son) and ‘almah vs betulah. Also, a midrash similar to Jewish stories about the birth of Moses.


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Footnote 52: (Mark)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This Gospel concentrates mainly on what Jesus did, although the writer does include some of Jesus' teaching. Within the first few chapters several miracles are recorded. He does not speak about Jesus' birth but begins with John the Baptist's work and Jesus' baptism and temptations. Chapters 1-9 are about Jesus' work in Galilee, chapters 10-15 his journey to Jerusalem ending in his death, and chapter 16 about his resurrection. 16:9-20 was added later, probably by the early church.
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Footnote 53: (Luke)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    The first two chapters of this Gospel contain several unique incidents related to Jesus' birth and early life. Luke traces Jesus' family tree to Adam, which underlines the emphasis on Jesus as the Saviour of the whole world. He stresses that Jesus is concerned for minority groups, for the poor and the oppressed. Other prominent themes are prayer, joy and the Holy Spirit. He often cross-references events to dates in secular history. He is also the author of Acts.
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Footnote 54: (John)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    It is obvious from the first verse that this Gospel is very different in atmosphere to the other three. Jesus' miracles are called 'signs', Jesus does not speak of the 'kingdom' but of 'eternal life'. There are no parables but several long, rather complex sermons which are usually linked to one of the signs. Thus when Jesus heals a blind man he speaks of himself as 'the light of the world'. These 'I am' sayings are quite distinctive to this Gospel and the accounts of Jesus' appearances after his resurrection are also unique.
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Footnote 55: (Acts)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This is the 'second instalment' of the story begun in Luke's Gospel and tells us what happened in the early church in the first thirty years or so. It begins with the ascension of Jesus (chapter 1) and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (chapter 2). The next ten chapters show how the gospel spread beyond the locality of Jerusalem as far as Samaria. Peter, Stephen and James are the main characters. Chapters 13-28 centre on Paul and his three missionary tours taking the gospel to Greece and Europe. The whole book shows that the main source of opposition to the 'new religion' came from the Jews, not the Roman government.
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Footnote 56: (Romans)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This is the first of twenty-one letters found in the New Testament. They are very important because they give us an inside view of life in the earliest Christian churches and the teaching of their leaders. Paul had not been to Rome when he wrote this letter. It is the most detailed account of an important part of his teaching: that the only way to be accepted by God was to rely on what Jesus did through his death and resurrection (chapters 1-8). In chapters 9-11 Paul expresses the hope that although the Jews have largely refused this teaching they will one day accept it. Romans follows the pattern of most of Paul's letters: the first part is teaching and the second practical application in real life. Thus chapters 12-16 speak of how Christians should behave in the church and in the world.
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Footnote 57: (1 Corinthians)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This and the following letter were written to a church in the Greek city of Corinth which Paul had visited (Acts 18:1-21). Paul had heard that there were various problems in the church: party politics (chapters 1-4), moral problems (chapter 5), Christians taking each other to court (chapter 6), marriage (chapter 7), special difficulties arising from living in a city full of temples to various gods (chapters 8-10), the organisation of worship (chapters 11-14) and intellectual problems with life after death (chapter 151).
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In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Click here for Note for an analysis of Chapter15

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Footnote 58: (2 Corinthians)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    Between this and the previous letter Paul visited the church. There had been a lot of criticism and even hostility shown to him, and his authority as a leader had been called into question. Relationships had improved but Paul finds it necessary to stress the genuineness of his authority as an apostle (chapters 2-3, 10-13). The letter shows how deeply Paul felt (chapter 7). Chapter 5 contains further teaching on life after death, and chapters 8-9 give details about an appeal for financial help for a group of churches facing hardship.
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Footnote 59: (Galatians)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This is probably the first of Paul's letters and its theme is similar to that of Romans. It is apparent that many Jews felt that non-Jews becoming Christians should keep the Jewish law and in particular the food laws, and be circumcised. (Acts also tells us this.) The heart of Paul's teaching on this view is found in 2:14-21: a right relationship with God is possible only through Jesus, and nothing else is required. Chapters 5-6 show that this does not mean we can do as we like. Christians are called to 'serve one another in love' and the Holy Spirit is given to help them do this.
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Footnote 60: (Ephesians)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This letter may have been written to several churches in and around the important city of Ephesus. Paul founded this church on his third missionary tour (Acts 18:23-20:1). The clear theme of the letter is unity: God's plan is to bring to an end all that divides men and women, social classes, cultures, nations and religions. Jesus Christ is the unifying force, as the head 'unites' the human body. Chapters 4-6 show that this unity is very practical: it is worked out in good relationships in the family, the church and the work place.
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Footnote 61: (Philippians)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    Paul established this church on his second missionary tour (Acts 16:6-40), and this letter was written some ten or twelve years after that visit. It is a warm, personal letter to a church for which he felt a deep affection. He speaks of his imprisonment which has resulted in the gospel being preached to Roman personnel (chapter 1). Chapter 2 contains an important statement about Jesus as the servant who was willing to give up his rights for the good of others, and Paul encourages the church to follow that example.
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Footnote 62: (Colossians)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    The church was founded by Epaphras, one of Paul's converts. The contents of the letter make it clear that wrong teaching was creeping into the church. In the face of this Paul stresses the true gospel: Jesus is absolutely central. He existed before time began and he is the one who brings God and the human race together again (chapter 1). Rituals, regulations, philosophical reasonings and self-denial are not what is required (chapter 2) but right relationships and attitudes in the church, the family, the work place and the world (chapters 3-4).
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Footnote 63: (1 Thessalonians)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    Paul founded this church on his second missionary tour (Acts 17:1-9) amid a lot of opposition from Jews. This and 2 Thessalonians are among Paul's earliest letters. No doubt because the Jews had continued to undermine his reputation Paul begins by insisting that he is a true apostle (chapters 1-2). From chapter 3 we learn that Timothy had been sent to the church and had returned to Paul with an encouraging report. In chapters 4 and 5 Paul deals with two questions: what happens to Christians when they die? And when will Jesus return?
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Footnote 64: (2 Thessalonians)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    The Thessalonian church did not fully understand what Paul had said in his first letter (1 Thessalonians) about Jesus' return. They had also been confused by other teachers who said that Jesus had already returned. Furthermore, some church members had even opted out of responsibilities on the basis that if Jesus was about to return there was not much point in going to work! Paul deals with all these difficulties.
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Footnote 65: (1 Timothy)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    Paul had met Timothy on his second missionary tour (Acts 16:1-3) and Timothy had worked with him. Now he was a leader in the church at Ephesus and Paul writes to encourage him and give him advice about organising the church there. He writes about public prayer, the appointment of leaders, help for widows and attitudes to slaves (chapters 25). He warns about those who teach differently to what has been taught by recognised leaders.
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Footnote 66: (2 Timothy)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This is more personal than 1 Timothy and was written at the end of Paul's life. He warns Timothy that wrong teaching is on the increase and people will easily be deceived. In the face of this Timothy must stand by the truth, which will take courage.
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Footnote 67: (Titus)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    In a similar way to Timothy, Titus was a leader in the church on the island of Crete. Paul writes as he did in 1 Timothy, about the organisation and leadership of the church, correct teaching in the face of error and right attitudes in the church, the work place and the world.
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Footnote 68: (Philemon)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    Philemon was probably a convert of Paul's and now a church worker. Onesimus, one of his slaves, had run away but had met Paul and become a Christian. Paul writes to Philemon to say that he is sending Onesimus back to his master and appeals to Philemon to do what would have been unusual in those days — to forgive and reinstate Onesimus.
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Footnote 69: (Hebrews)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    We do not know who wrote this letter, nor who the readers were. Since the writer's theme is that the Temple and its ceremonies were temporary pointers to Christianity it is probable that the original readers were Jews. The keyword for this letter is 'better'. Jesus has offered a better (and the last) sacrifice (chapters 4-7). He is 'better' than all that has gone before: greater than the angels (chapters 1-2), greater than Moses (chapter 3). The New Covenant has replaced the Old (chapters 8-10). In the closing chapters he writes to encourage his readers to keep going in the face of difficulties and hostility. The people of the Old Testament did wonderful things because they relied on God (chapter 11). Christians must follow their example and the example of Jesus (chapter 12).
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Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 70: (James)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    James may have been Jesus' brother who was also the first leader of the church in Jerusalem. It could be the first of the New Testament letters to be written, and it is very practical. The main themes are: if we say we are Christians we must also live like Christians; discrimination of any kind is wrong, as is oppression of the poor and the weak; Christians should be self-controlled, especially in what they say.
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Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 71: (1 Peter)

  • For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

      This letter was written to Christians in the Black Sea coastal area, probably in the early-60s A.D. The theme is suffering, and probably the readers were facing real persecution because they were Christians. Christians must not be surprised if they experience opposition and persecution; Jesus, their example, certainly did! Indeed, they may be full of hope and joy because they are sharing with Jesus in this way. Throughout the letter there are also practical guidelines on Christian behaviour.
  • When reading this through again, I was struck by how Pauline the general tenor of the Epistle is. I’m evidently not the first to think this. "Guthrie (Donald) - New Testament Introduction" considers the question – and in particular the polished Greek, and whether it’s the language of a Galilean fisherman. "Barker (Kenneth) - The NIV Study Bible: New International Version" likewise.
  • Naturally, the conservatives are sure there’s no problem. I agree with them that Peter might have learnt something in the 30 years since his calling, and would have spoken “commercial Greek” in any case. I also agree that having Silas as the amanuensis would explain a lot.
  • Equally naturally, the liberals or uncommitted – "Levine (Amy-Jill) & Brettler (Marc Zvi), Eds. - The Jewish Annotated New Testament" and "Ehrman (Bart D.) - The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings" (pp. 434-5) are unmoved. Convinced, inter alia, that “Babylon” is Rome, and that this usage didn’t arise until after the fall of Jerusalem, they place the letter as written after AD 70 by a Paulinist in Peter’s name. The conservatives think that “Babylon” is Babylon (then a village).
  • This isn’t one of my major worries. Historically it might have only got into the canon because of its supposed Petrine authorship – but in my view the choice should be based on merit rather than authorship, and Peter is only mentioned in the first verse and no play is made of the author’s status (as is often the case in Paul’s writings).
  • I’d have thought it possible to hold that verse 1:1 was prefixed later to an anonymous work, or even that the author’s name was changes to someone more famous, without one’s world falling apart.
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Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 72: (2 Peter)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    The letter opens with the same emphasis as in 1 Peter on Christian behaviour. Chapters 2 and 3 are a strong onslaught against those who mislead by wrong teaching and the writer speaks in detail of their future punishment. This leads him to speak of the return of Jesus.
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Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 73: (1 John)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    It is probable that the writer of this letter and 2 and 3 John was also the writer of the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation. It is clear that the Christians to whom he wrote 1 John were worried by teachers of strange ideas. They were saying they had special understanding of spiritual matters. This meant that they were claiming to be perfect on the one hand, and that Jesus could not have been a real man on the other. In reply John stresses the certainty that Christians have: 'we know' is a favourite phrase. One of the clear proofs that people are Christians is that they love other Christians.
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Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 74: (2 John)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This letter is written to 'the chosen lady', which probably refers to a church, not an individual. Some of the themes found in 1 John are taken up here: loving God means doing what he has told us to do and loving others. The writer warns about teachers of wrong ideas.
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Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 75: (3 John)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This letter is addressed to someone called Gaius who is praised for the way he is standing by the truth. A man called Diotrephes is setting himself up as a leader and turning away representatives of the writer.
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Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 76: (Jude)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    Many believe that Jude was a brother of Jesus. His letter uses almost the same words as 2 Peter 2:1-3:3 to condemn all who mislead by their wrong teaching. He too writes of their future punishment and encourages his readers to keep to the teaching they were given originally.
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Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43


Footnote 77: (Revelation)

For all books of the Bible, I’m starting with the summary from pp. N15-N21 of the Notes Appendix of "Bible - The Bible in One Year: New International Version". I might not agree with it, but it’s a start for the more obscure books, and something to react to for others.

    This letter was written to seven churches in Asia Minor which are named in the course of messages to them from Jesus in chapters 2-3. John had a vision of Jesus which he describes in chapter 1. In chapters 4-5 he has another vision of Jesus and in the course of this Jesus takes a scroll from the hand 'of him who sat on the throne'. The rest of the book recounts what happens as Jesus opens this scroll. These chapters are full of difficult symbols which we do not fully understand and we cannot be certain of their meaning. But the basic message of the book is that God is in control and all evil will eventually be destroyed.
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Note last updated: 02/01/2014 21:54:43



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Timestamp: 02/12/2017 06:26:29. Comments to theo@theotodman.com.