Reading Plan for Days 78 – 84:
Sunday, 3/26: Hebrews 6-9
Monday, 3/27: Hebrews 10-13
Tuesday, 3/28: James
Wednesday, 3/29: 1 Peter – 2 Peter
Thursday, 3/30: 1 John – 3 John – Jude
Friday, 3/31: Revelation 1-3
Saturday: 4/01: Rev. 4-6
Some Introductory Comments:
Introduction to the non-Pauline Letters
Although Paul wrote much of our New Testament, and the majority of the letters in the New Testament, there are also several other letters (or, more likely in some cases, copies of sermons) attributed to other Apostles:
- Hebrews: Though once thought to have been written by Paul, early in the history of the church it was discerned that this letter was by another apostle, writing specifically to Jewish Christians. The letter draws heavily on the Old Testament and Jewish faith and customs to make the case that Jesus is the Messiah through whom we know salvation, including reference to the enigmatic figure of Melchizedek in the Old Testament. This letter was likely written in the 80s.
- James: Attributed to James, the brother of Jesus. Similar to the Jewish wisdom tradition, this letter describes the tensions between rich and poor, encourages Christian moral behavior, and encourages generosity. This is actually more of a sermon than a letter.
- 1 & 2 Peter: Though both are likely pseudonymous, some scholars suggest 1 Peter may have been by Peter with a secretary. More likely, 1 Peter was written between 70-90AD (after Peter’s martyrdom), and 2 Peter was written in the 130s. 1 Peter encourages discipline in both morals and theology, and 2 Peter is more of a critique of false teachers (seeming to draw upon the letter of Jude).
- Letters of John: Attributed to the same John as the Gospel, these letters are part of the same school of theology and thought that gave birth to the Gospel of John as well as the Revelation. You will notice in these letters emphasis on good doctrine and the avoidance of false teachers, which appears to have been perceived as a consistent threat to the early Christian community.
- Jude: Also attributed to one of Jesus’ siblings, this letter probably originated in the region of Palestine, where Jesus’ brothers were held as major figures in the tradition(s) of the early churches. Most likely written later, around 90AD, it also emphasizes warnings about threats to the early community – this time, those who would cause divisions in the church.
Revelation and “apocalyptic” literature
Although the Revelation is one of the most requested books for Bible study, it is also one of the least understood. From the earliest days of the church, when the Scriptures were first being canonized, Revelation has been an enigmatic piece of Scripture. During canonization, it was of great debate whether the book should be included at all.
Revelation is an example of apocalyptic literature (we also see Biblical examples in Daniel and the Gospels, and there are several other apocryphal books that utilize this form of literature). This is a distinct genre of literature that uses sets of conventions and metaphors to illustrate teachings of divine origin, but intentionally obscured through the metaphor. One general argument used for such a book being written at the time it was is that it allowed for Christians to critique and read of God’s condemnation of the Roman Empire without actually being punished for doing so!
The interpretation of Revelation remains enigmatic, as people with different theological viewpoints and perspectives on biblical revelation approach the book in very different ways.
Blessed reading to you this week! Please post any comments, insights, or questions you might have in the comments section below.