Monday, July 21, 2008

More Pizza

Hey Meat Eaters,

Apparently the pizza was a Good Thing last week. So why not do it again?

Whoever wants to can join us at the Judson House at 6:00 -- an hour before the meeting begins -- and we're going to feast on some of the best pizza in the state. Check out Pizza Pie-er's website and menu. Also, please let us know via email ( if you're planning on coming. We want to make sure we get enough pizza for everyone. Just to clarify: we will meet at the Judson House (168 Lloyd Avenue, Providence) and stay there for pizza -- no travel involved.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

week 2 handout

meat eaters’ crash course week 2

Bible Study Methods: Interpretation (the basics)
1. Pray. You really need the Holy Spirit to help you observe and interpret, but especially for interpretation because…
2. There Is Only One Correct Interpretation of any given passage! Though there is an infinite number of observations and an infinite number of applications you can get from a passage, and no single ‘right’ answer for observation, there is a single – only one – right answer to the question, ‘What did the original author (Paul in our case) mean by this?’ It would drive me crazy if someone told me that I meant something else by what I said than I actually did. We have to be strict with ourselves to get the right answer – and with God’s help (step number 1) we can (usually) get it.
3. The best interpretation of a passage is in context. You can look at it in historical-slash-geographical context (for example, in our case, ‘Where was Ephesus? What was life like there, and what hardships did the Christians there have to deal with?’ – stuff like that). You can also look at it in literary context – examining it in light of the words and paragraphs around and related to it. For example, we could ask of Ephesians 6:10, ‘What does the word ‘strong’ mean here – do we interpret this as “be buff in the Lord”, “be architecturally sound in the Lord”, or “be powerful in the Lord”, or something else?’
4. Get Help. We pray first for God’s help (step 1). He can use other people and resources to guide us: ask your parents, your pastor, a trusted mentor, a sound book to ‘check your work’, to take another person’s look at your interpretation. Proverbs 19:20 says, ‘Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.’ There are many tools available for us to use. You can look at how a passage is translated in multiple versions of the Bible (see You can use word study tools, such as Vine’s Expository Dictionary and a concordance. Another excellent way to learn more about the literary context of your passage is cross-referencing: many Bibles give you other verses that are related to the verse you’re looking at, in the margin or at the bottom of the page. Looking up those other verses can help you understand the one you’re trying to interpret. Other good ‘advisors’ are commentaries; notes from study Bibles included. Two thoughts on commentaries: don’t go to them first; try to do the work on your own before you refer to someone else’s work. Second, a warning about internet commentaries: don’t use or trust them unless you know for sure that the author is trustworthy. Anybody can post their ideas on the internet, but not many people can get a good commentary published.
5. Paraphrase. This is kind of the goal of interpretation – to be able to say what the author means in your own words. For example: once I’ve studied the command, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’, and found out that the word ‘neighbour’ means anyone near you, and the word for love (agape) is defined in I Corinthians 13, I can now paraphrase it (having interpreted it) and say, ‘How much do you show love to yourself? That’s how much you should treat everyone around you – with that same love.’ By paraphrasing it, I had to get a firm grasp on what Jesus meant when he said it – I had to interpret it.

For Next Week:
Your homework for this week is to figure out what Paul means when he says ‘so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.’ What exactly does ‘the day of evil’ mean? Work your way through the following steps.
1. Pray. Ask God to help you understand this verse.

2. Does your Bible or any other Bible around your house have cross-references for Ephesians 6:13? If so, write the references down here:

3. What are the possible meanings for the word ‘day’ in the Greek? See Greek Dictionary handout, number 2250 (hemera). Then read the entry from Vine’s Expository Dictionary about what ‘day’ means.

4. Find other versions around your house and see how they translate ‘day of evil’.

5. On your third homework handout (it’s a concordance), find how many times Paul uses ‘evil’ in Ephesians, read those, and write down in this space what you observe.

6. If you have a study Bible at home, see if it includes any footnotes on this verse. Write those here.

7. Look up Galatians 1:4, Jeremiah 17:17-18, Obadiah 13, Daniel 12:1, I Corinthians 2:6. How do those passages help you understand ‘the evil day’?

8. Finally, read both handouts from two different commentaries on verse 13.

9. Having done all of the above, put into your own words what you think Ephesians 6:13 is saying. If you want to, list out your reasons for why you’ve interpreted it this way. (We’ll talk about those next week together.)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Pizza Pie-er at the Judson House

Hey Meat Eaters,

Whoever wants to can join us at the Judson House at 6:00 -- an hour before the meeting begins -- and we're going to feast on some of the best pizza in the state. Check out Pizza Pie-er's website and menu. Also, please let us know via email ( if you're planning on coming. We want to make sure we get enough pizza for everyone. Just to clarify: we will meet at the Judson House (168 Lloyd Avenue, Providence) and stay there for pizza -- no travel involved.

last week's handout

Just in case you didn't get one or misplaced the one you had, here is a copy of the handout from last week:

meat eaters’ crash course week 1

Bible Study Methods: Observation
The first step in inductive Bible study is observation. In this step, you’ve got to ask yourself, “What do I see?” To answer the question, you must force yourself to move beyond physical sight. You need to move to the level of being aware, of perceiving, of being completely saturated with the details of the passage. In a sense, you have to ask many smaller questions in order to answer the bigger one, “What do I see?” So here are some questions to help prime the observation pump.

Who is writing or speaking?
To whom is he writing or speaking?
What is their relationship?
Where is the action or writing taking place?
When is it taking place?
What do the words he chose to use mean?
Are there parallels? Comparisons? Contrasts? Repetitions?
Are there words that signify cause and effect, sequence, purpose,
What are the verb tenses used – past, present, future,
Is there a chronological order?
What about negatives, positives, prohibitions, commands,

For week 2:
Make as many observations as you can – 100 minimum – on Ephesians 6:10-20, using the helps above to get you started. We’ll talk about those together at our next meeting, and also move on to interpreting the passage to get really what the author’s point is.

Friday, July 11, 2008

the adventures of sherlock holmes, the great observer

'One night -- it was on the twentieth of March, 1888 -- I was returning from a journey to a patient (for I had now returned to civil practice), when my way led me through Baker Street. As I passed the well-remembered door, which must always be associated in my mind with wooing, and with the dark incidents of the Study in Scarlet, I was seized with a keen desire to seek Holmes again, and to know how he was employing his extraordinary powers. His rooms were brilliantly lit, and, even as I looked up, I saw his tall, spare figure pass twice in a dark silhouette against the blind. He was pacing across the room swiftly, eagerly, with his head sunk upon his chest and his hands clasped behind him. To me, who knew his every mood and habit, his attitude and manner tole their own story. He was at work again. He had risen out of his drug-created dreams and was hot upon the scent of some new problem. I rang the bell and was shown up to the chamber which had formerly been in part my own.

His manner was not effusive. It seldom was; but he was glad, I think, to see me. With hardly a word spoken, but with a kindly eye, he waved me to an armchair, threw across his case of cigars, and indicated a spirit case and a gasogene in the corner. Then he stood before the fire and looked me over in his singular introspective fashion.

"Wedlock suits you," he remarked. "I think, Watson, that you have put on seven and a half pounds since I saw you."

"Seven!" I answered.

"Indeed, I should have thought a little more. Just a trifle more, I fancy, Watson. And in practice again, I observe. You did not tell me that you intended to go into harness."

"Then, how do you know?"

"I see it, I deduce it. How do I know that you have been getting yourself very wet lately, and that you have a most clumsy and careless servant girl?"

"My dear Holmes," said I, "this is too much. You would certainly have been burned, had you live a few centuries ago. It is true that I had a country walk on Thursday and came home in a dreadful mess, but as I have changed my clothes I can't imagine how you deduce it. As to Mary Jane, she is incorrigible, and my wife has given her notice; but there, again, I fail to see how you work it out."

He chuckled to himself and rubbed his long, nervous hands together.

"It is simplicity itself," said he; "my eyes tell mt that on the inside of your left shoe, just above where the firelight strikes it, the leather is scored by six almost parallel cuts. Obviously they have been caused by someone who has very carelessly scraped round the edges of the sold in order to remove crusted mud from it. Hence, you see, my double deduction that you had been out in vile weather, and that you had a particularly malignant boot-slitting specimen of the London slavey. As to your practice, if a gentleman walks into my rooms smelling of iodoform, with a black mark of nitrate of silver on his right forefinger, and a bulge on the right side of his top-hat to show where he has secreted his stethoscope, I might be dull, indeed, if I do not pronounce him to be an active member of the medical profession."

I could not help laughing at the ease with which he explained his process of deduction. "When I hear you give your reasons," I remarked, "the thing always appears to me to be so ridiculously simple that I could easily do it myself, though at each successive instance of your reasoning I am baffled until you explain your process. And yet I believe that my eyes are as good as yours."

"Quite so," he answered, lighting a cigarette, and throwing himself down into an armchair. "You see, but you do not observe." '

-- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Scandal in Bohemia