Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A handful of thoughts on 1 Corinthians

I've just posted the last few sets of notes on 1 Corinthians for the use of our House Groups. I've found the process of writing the notes extremely demanding (about 2 hours work a week) and satisfying at the same time. I've loved the opportunity to work through the text in a thorough fashion (I'd forgotten quite how much I enjoy studying Scripture!!!), and as preparation for leading the discussion in my own house group it's been great - but I have hated having to write up the notes. It has felt like extracting teeth, mainly because I haven't had a clear sense of the 'audience' - and, as I find out more about the audience I find them to be far too diverse for one approach to work. I think only 2 or 3 out of the six or so groups use them to any great extent; at least one ignores them completely! But that's fine, because they are only intended to be prompts and resources - the key thing is the discussion in the group itself.

I have been using two main commentaries, with occasional dipping into others: the Oxford Bible Commentary (which is my main resource generally) and Tom Wright's 'For Everyone' commentary. It's been quite illuminating to compare the two as I've gone on, the secular/believing contrast is sometimes strongly evident.

The best thing about it has been getting to know this text in much greater depth, and gaining an awareness of the shape of the text as a whole, how the various parts fit together coherently in Paul's argument. That has been very satisfying.

I'm almost certainly never going to do this again for the House Groups. The other leaders have access to other resources (and more experience in using them) so I'm very happy to pass on the leadership function to someone else. But I'm almost certain to carry on doing something like this, simply because it has been so spiritually edifying for me. I plan - after Christmas - to resume a weekly rhythm of working through a particular text (probably Exodus), and I'll post my notes onto the blog. As it will be purely for self-interest I should feel a bit more liberated with what to write, so hopefully it will flow much more easily (and I'll be able to range a bit more widely to pursue my own interests and spiritual concerns (aka hangups)). And I've just read this post, which encourages me to think that as I grow into it, it might turn into something of wider use.

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