Love Story with a difference: Ruth

I am working with Celia Kellett at BBC Radio Nottingham on an idea to present most of the books of the Bible, one a week, during 2011 as part of the celebrations of the King James Bible. The plan is to read some verses from the book, to give a one-and-a-half minute summary, to hear a human interest story which relates, and then include a short discussion making the connections.

Here are the key verses and summary for the story of Ruth (‘A love story with a difference’), to be broadcast this Sunday 11th Feb from 8.20 am:

Verses: Ruth 1.1–2, 11, 16–17

In the days when the judges ruled, there

Continue Reading

What is wrong with Common Worship?

General Synod, the Church of England’s ‘Parliament’ has voted to look at a revision of the Common Worship Baptism service. There has been debate about the difficulty of the language; can you expect non-church-goers to understand the idea of the ‘kingdom of God’ for example? But that is not the issue for me—it is much broader than that. The whole service is far too complex, and the language is fussy and, to be honest, at times pompous. The double set of triple vows simply seems unnecessary, and does not make practical sense when it is used.

But this is not the first time Common

Continue Reading

Was the text of the NT ‘unstable’ and ‘evolving’?

The BBC started their new series ‘The Beauty of Books’ looking at two epoch-making books, the Winchester Bible (from around 1100) and Codex Sinaiticus, from around 350. Sinaiticus is hugely significant, since it is the earliest complete Bible, and was the fruit of the stability for the Christian faith in the Roman Empire resulting from the Constantinian settlement. (Janet Soskice’s Sisters of Sinai about its discovery is supposed to be a ripping read.) You can view the manuscript for yourself in amazing detail at its website.

The programme highlighted what an extraordinary technical achievement its

Continue Reading

Mitre joints

Last night Louis Theroux was at his best, achieving the near-impossible of giving a balanced view on ultra-Zionists in Israel. It was particularly interesting, late on in the show, to hear Arabs in Hebron complain about Jews moving into the heart of the city, pushing the Arabs out, for the Jews to respond ‘This is just what you did! This area was Jewish until you expelled us in the 1920s!’

Continue Reading

How are the mighty fallen: 1 and 2 Kings

I am working with Celia Kellett at BBC Radio Nottingham on an idea to present most of the books of the Bible, one a week, during 2011 as part of the celebrations of the King James Bible. The plan is to read some verses from the book, to give a one-and-a-half minute summary, to hear a human interest story which relates, and then include a short discussion making the connections.

Here are the key verses and summary for 1 and 2 Kings (‘How are the mighty fallen!’), to be broadcast this Sunday 6th Feb from 8.20 am:

Key verses: 1 Kings 19.10–13

Continue Reading

Should theological training be validated?

The Government’s removal of HEFCE funding from Humanities subjects could have a big impact on ordination and theological training in the C of E, since quite a few institutions have relied on this income to make ends meet.

I contributed to a consultation on Wednesday about the future of training in the light of this. One of the possibilities mooted was that a small number of ordinands would take (in future more expensive) validated courses, whilst the majority would take (cheaper) non-validated courses.

There are some clear disadvantages to university validation. It makes administrative demands on already busy staff, and it would be great to find ways across institutions to minimise this. But there are a number of clear—even vital—advantages of validation.

Continue Reading

Duty or pleasure?

I went to see the magnificent The King’s Speech yesterday. (In case you need persuading, you can see the trailer here). It concerns the relationship between George VI, unwillingly passed the crown on the abdication of his elder brother Edward VIII, and his speech therapist Lionel Logue who tries to rectify George’s stammer.

There were some moments of great poignancy—such as the look that Lionel gives his eldest son as they listen to Churchill announcing the declaration of war, knowing his son would be called up (though in fact he survived the war). And other moments of sheer genius—the

Continue Reading

Losing our way?: Matthew

I am working with Celia Kellett at BBC Radio Nottingham on an idea to present most of the books of the Bible, one a week, during 2011 as part of the celebrations of the King James Bible. The plan is to read some verses from the book, to give a one-and-a-half minute summary, to hear a human interest story which relates, and then include a short discussion making the connections.

Here’s the key verses and summary for Matthew (‘Losing our Way?’), to be broadcast this Sunday 30th Jan from 8.20 am:

Verses: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. [Matt 5.3–5]

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye,

Continue Reading

Seeing the Big Picture

Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart comment that there are two key skills in reading the Bible: the ability to see the big picture; and the ability to see the distinctive detail of each passage, in particular to recognise its genre.

Here is my list of resources to help with the ‘big picture’ side of things. Do add yours in comments!

  • Scripture Union has developed the  E100 project which offers 100 Bible passages, 50 from the Old Testament and 50 from the New, to give you an overview of the Bible. It come with a range of supporting resources.
  • It might sound odd for adults, but we have found Children’s Bibles great for giving readable, accessible overviews of the whole Bible. The Lion Storyteller Bible is a good one for older children and adults.
  • Lesslie Newbigin gave an overview of the Bible in a series of talks at Holy Trinity Brompton several years ago, and these have been written up in the

    Continue Reading

Security and identity

Where do you get your sense of personal security? What defines who you are? What gives you a secure sense of identity? For most of us, it will involve a range of factors—our occupation (often important for men), relationships (often important for women), our achievements, perhaps our appearance. For much of the time, we can happily get on with life without worrying about this, but there are key moments which test our security in our identity:

  • The years when we are forming our understanding of ourselves. I remember the intense competition, as a teenager in an all-boys’ school, for kudos and being in the ‘in’ group—and the freedom that came from discovering I was accepted as I was, first by Christians and then by God.

    Continue Reading

All you need is love: Song of Songs

I am working with Celia Kellett at BBC Radio Nottingham on an idea to present most of the books of the Bible, one a week, during 2011 as part of the celebrations of the King James Bible. The plan is to read some verses from the book, to give a one-and-a-half minute summary, to hear a human interest story which relates, and then include a short discussion making the connections.

Here’s the key verses and summary for Song of Songs (‘All you need is love?’), to be broadcast this Sunday 23rd Jan from 8.20 am:

Verses: Song of Songs 7.6–13

(He)
How beautiful you are and how pleasing, my love, with your delights!
Your stature is like that of the palm, and your breasts like clusters of fruit.

Continue Reading