Lens #3: Passages

At 5:22 during the video, I ask you to click this link and try to figure out what this Sunday’s Gospel reading is. Remember, the reading is about Herod and John the Baptist (NOTE: this one’s sort of easy; we’ll do some harder ones below).

Prompts for Discussion

Use the comments box below (under “Leave a Reply”) to discuss some of these prompts. You can post more than one comment and respond to other people’s comments The first time you do it, you many need to provide some basic info like name and email.

1) Go through the accounts of the Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and look for more transitional words or phrases. In your comment, choose three and then give their chapter and verse citation. We’ll make a game out of it. Each one has to be different, so the first person to respond gets the easy pickings. Don’t use the ones I mentioned in the video (“After these things… The next day… Eight days later… At the time of the festival…”). Ready? Go!

2) Find your favorite passage in the Bible. How does it set itself off from the passages around it?

3) I mentioned that the original language hides some of the ways we can figure out where passages begin and end. One famous example is the longest psalm in the book, Psalm 119. The sections are each eight verses long, but you’d never know that reading in English. So — research project! How does the Hebrew version show us that the psalm is broken into eight verse passages?

4) Let’s look at a few more examples from the narrative sections of the Bible to see if we can figure out the individual pericopes. Try your hand at breaking down these larger chunks.

  • Genesis 1:1 — 2:4a (try to break the creation tale into several smaller passages)
  • Luke 15:11-32 (try to break the parable into two small passages)
  • Revelation 22 (try to figure out when the final passage of the book begins; this one is tricky and open to interpretation)

5) If your Bible has section headers, see if you can find a passage that doesn’t seem to obey them. If so, what is it? What do you think the boundaries of the passage should be?

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One response to “Lens #3: Passages

  1. Ann Musto

    Hi all –
    This one took more time, but well worth it! I am unclear as to the understanding of question 3 – how the Hebrew text of Psalm 119 is depicted in 8 verse segments… unless it’s as simple as seeing the spacing between each section of 8?
    I think the exercise in dividing passages was very informative… I have to admit, I always wondered how the lectionary was brought about and why some verses and not others were included in a passage. That being said, I appreciate the notion that each book is comprised of many passages, but I honestly don’t see the decision to leave some verses or passages out of the lectionary since a great majority of congregants in most Christian churches do not read the Bible on their own, and therefore are not fed the whole meal over time. My honest preference in studying the Bible is to use the whole book or library, as Adam aptly pointed out.
    Breaking passages out of Genesis 1 and Luke 15 seem straight forward – I saw the creation story lined up around the lack of life, the plant and animal kingdoms, and the installation of “man”. Anybody see it differently?
    Luke seemed to split easily around stories of lost and found things, and then the more compelling look at how we participate in relationship as God creates us to be – do we seek out opportunity to be found and to find or connect with others, or do we sometimes cling to our feelings of loss and also fail to invite others into community who appear lost by our own judgement and assumptions.

    Maybe all those who are participating would like to meet for a discussion of this process at some time? I’d love to talk and listen!


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