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Bible Babble - An Inter-Faith Bible Study Group

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[16 Jun 2008|03:33pm]

 OK, we'll give it a few more weeks and see if anybody else besides schreibergasseis planning to comment! :-)

Also, sorry for the spacing problems. LJ is doing funny things today.

We're back in the Hebrew Scriptures this week. Having just read a whole slew of Jesus' commands on how to live, it seems apropos to now read some Old Testament commands. So this week we're on Deuteronomy 11. Deuteronomy includes a whole ton of Jewish law, but this chapter is probably the one that is the most often read, quoted and discussed, at least by contemporary Christianity. (I'm afraid I don't know enough to tell you if this is the case for anyone else!)


There are a bunch of things that I find interesting and worthy of discussion in this passage. First, this is one of the passages often used to cite Israel's God-given right to the Promised Land. How do you feel about God parceling out physical territory to his followers? Should this be interpreted metaphorically or literally? Also, God makes a lot of lovely promises herein for those who obey his commands, but continually counterbalances this with the threat of a curse for those who disobey. Do you think God punishes those who are disobedient to him? For that matter, do you think he always rewards those who are obedient? There rarely seems to be a correlation between being a good person and having worldly success, right? Given that fact, what do you make of all the if-than statements in this passage?

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Reading Assignment 4 [07 Jun 2008|10:28am]


I am planning to continue the practice of alternating between Old and New Testament readings. Since the last assignment, forever ago, was the Ten Commandments (and please go comment on that if you have anything to add!), we're now in the New Testament. Today's assignment is the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7. I am including the text from the New Revised Standard Version below. In this sermon, Jesus threw together a heck of a lot of instruction to his followers: it is, perhaps, a summary of how he thinks they ought to live.

When taking on responsibility for moderating this group and providing weekly assignments, I hadn't realized how busy my life was getting in other ways. So I can't promise to provide as well-thought-out discussion questions as your former moderators did. Please feel free to go off on your own tangents. However, here are some slap-dash, preliminary conversation-starters: How would Jesus' instructions have conflicted with conventional Jewish teaching at the time? And how do they still conflict with 21st-century cultural mores? Which instructions do you agree with, and which do you find troubling? Are some of them vague and open to interpretation? How has this sermon influenced Christianity (and is there anything in it that modern Christianity still hasn't taken to heart)?

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Update [06 Jun 2008|01:28pm]

Hi, all! Since schreibergasse's recent post may have confused some of you who thought this community was dead, let me provide you with an update! I'm in talks with  wavyarmsto take over moderatorship. I loved the idea of this community, and I would really like to resurrect it!

Once the last couple moderator-switching details get worked out, I'm planning to provide weekly(-ish) passages for discussion. (And, unlike your former moderators, I'll try to provide the text of the Scripture passages right in the entry, to save you some trouble - although the viewpoints of varying translations are always appreciated!) I'm very open to suggestions, though. Are there other changes that would help make this community more participatory and user-friendly? Do you have particular Scripture passages that you'd like to discuss? (If so, tell me! I've already gotten a request for the story of Balaam's ass.) Also, feel free to post things yourself, as schreibergassejust did. Y'all are brilliant, wonderful people with fascinating things to say, so help me make this discussion as meaningful as possible!

Also, since you guys deserve to know your new moderator, an introduction for those of you who don't know me, as well as a disclaimer: I'm Abby. I was brought up Catholic, but now waver between agnosticism and a love for the Anglican liturgy. Although I'm not entirely sure what I believe, I find the topic of religion fascinating. I'm also an organist/choir director, and I'm currently employed by a Lutheran church. The disclaimer: I understand that some of my previous comments to posts in this community may have came off as didactic, arrogant, closed-minded and/or Catholic-centric. (This was not ever my intention, but I can see where I was sometimes misconstrued that way.) Don't be put off. My personal beliefs have continued to change over the past few years. And, now that I know some of you readers, I realize that you all have at least as much to say as I do. Expect to see a whole new sexybadpnomammafrom here on out!

So...  expect this community to come back to life soon. Meanwhile, everybody go comment on schreibergasse's post!
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Wisdom Weirdness [05 Jun 2008|03:17pm]

(To anyone who's still on this list. I'm not sure whether the Great Moderator Switch has happened yet.)

...been reading through the book of Wisdom, and man, the last chapters are some trippy stuff. I mean, it's clearly some sort of weird Midrash on Exodus, but it seems to be referring to some other, additional, and frankly trippy tradition. "Fire increased its own virtue in the water / And water forgot its property of extinguishing"? (19.20-21; summing up 16.17-23) Or the fire-breathing "beasts not only able to crush them with a blow / but also to destroy them by their terrifying appearance"? (11.19-21)

I don't know if anyone can shed light on traditions about the Exodus that I don't know about, but everyone should go revel in the weirdness.

Meantime: is this the kind of stuff that should be on this blog?
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Reading Assignment Number Three [03 Mar 2006|05:54pm]

Dear Babblers,

I'm sorry for the delay in the posting of this assignment, but both your moderators are wading deeply into the bogs of Recitalville. :)

At any rate, our next assignment is the portions of Scripture stating the Ten Commandments, namely Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21. Romans 13:9-10 and Mark 12:28-31 are also helpful.

Questions to consider for this reading include

1. What do the Commandments mean in general and specifically in our lives now? Is that meaning different than it was in the time of Moses several thousand years ago? For the non-Christians in the group, to what extent do you feel compelled to follow the Commandments as basic rules of ethics? For our Jewish Babblers, what meaning do the Commandments hold for you?

2. Some -- perhaps many -- denominations consider violating one of the Ten Commandments a mortal sin, punishable by damnation and requiring confession to a priest or fellow human. What are your thoughts on this?

3. St. Paul and St. Mark highlight loving God and loving others as our top priorities in trying to live by the Commandments. Do you agree or disagree and why? (For "bonus points", look up other references to the Commandments by searching Bible.com or another resource, and give us your thoughts on how other passages provide insight.)

4. Anything else?

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2nd Reading Assignment [03 Feb 2006|07:12pm]

Dear Posters,

Thank you for those wonderful introductions! Ms. Wavyarms tells me most of you know one another, but as a newbie acquaintance, I am happy to meet you all in the on-line sense. In case my introduction got lost in the comments section, I will restate it. I am an Irish Roman Catholic and a sacred music major at Westminster Choir College. I work at a Catholic church as the music director for one of the weekend Masses and at a Methodist church as the youth music director. During the summers, I am in a second masters program in Pastoral Liturgy and Music at a Catholic school. I am also new to the Live Journal/Blog community, so forgive me if I make mistakes. :)

That said, Ms. W and I have decided to continue our quest to "start at the very beginning" by assigning the Christmas story next. Matthew Chapter 2 and Luke 1:26-2:35 encapsulate this tale, though I have stretched the Luke assignment a bit to include the Magnificat and Canticle of Simon. Those of us who are musicians are probably quite familiar with those texts, as they are frequently and beautifully set to music.

A few questions you might want to consider about these passages are

1. How does this reading of the Christmas story relate to your understanding of the Christian aspect of Christmas? If you have not read this part of the Bible before, what surprised you? For instance, people who know the We Three Kings carol are often surprised that the Bible never specifies the number of kings, etc.

2. This portion of the Bible (and a bit before and after it in Luke) contains the Five Joyful Mysteries of Mary (a meditative focus in the praying of the rosary), the Hail Mary and the Magnificat. What is Mary's place and importance in the Christmas story and in Christianity? Why do you think people of some denominations (like us Catholics) venerate Mary and some do not? Why do you think some cultures (like Mexican Catholics, who greatly venerate the Virgin of Guadalupe) focus on Mary more than others do? What do you think of Marian veneration?

3. What do you think of the famous texts -- the Magnificat, Canticle of Simeon, Gloria and Hail Mary -- that come about in the reading? Why have they lasted so long and with such importance? The third major canticle -- that of Zacharia -- is also in Luke 1. Why are all these important texts so close together in the Bible? Why might people have turned to music to express their joy at the birth of Christ and St. John the Baptist (in the case of Zacharia)?

4. Do you have anything else to add?

I look forward to reading your responses!

10 comments|post comment

introductions [29 Jan 2006|10:32pm]

Because many of you may no longer be reading the comments on the last post, I want to repeat a request that nupuppylover made in a comment to the last entry. Could we all introduce ourselves and say what our religious backgrounds are? I'll get things rolling in the first comment!
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1st reading assignment! [25 Jan 2006|08:43pm]

Hello, everyone who has decided that reading the Bible together online will be an interesting proposition!

The first reading is Genesis 1:1-2:25.

Here are some questions about the reading to get the discussion off the ground (kindly provided by co-moderator nupuppylover.

1. Based on these readings about the beginning of our world, would you deem yourself a Creationist or an Evolutionist? Give reasons for your examples and feel free to cite non-Biblical sources such as science and Christian studies. If you are not a Christian, be sure to tell us whether you're answering the question from the perspective of a Christian or a non-Christian. If you are a Christian evolutionist, please explain how you reconcile faith and science, if you feel comfortable.

2. Many Biblical scholars agree that Genesis contains two stories of creation within the aforementioned readings. What are the ramifications for readers when we see two stories? If you choose, consider that, historically speaking, these stories probably come from different sources as is indicated by the differences in the writing. On the other hand, theologically, most Christians believe that the Holy Spirit inspired and vicariously authored all Scripture. How are these paradigms relevant here?

3. The Bible tells us that God made Eve from the rib of Adam so that she could be a "helper" for him (NIV translation). What is the relevance of this part of the story?

4. What else did you find interesting or worthy of discussion?

Don't forget, when leaving a comment, be sure to cite which translation you're using.

We will be alternating between the Old and New Testaments, so look forward to meeting the big JC next post.
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