What Would You Choose?

I know it has been some time since I posted, and that I perhaps should atone for my silence by writing something a bit more substantial, but nonetheless I am only going to offer the following question….

If you could only read one gospel, one epistle, and one book from the Old Testament, what books would you choose, and why would you choose them?

I will provide my answer shortly in the comment section.

10 Responses to “What Would You Choose?”

  1. Arthur  

    Gospel: John.
    I find it so personal – perhaps because of the more intimate and inside glimpses we get of Jesus – things he said and did that don’t appear in the other gospels. I also like Jesus’ “I am” statements throughout the book and find that many of my favourite stories are here, esp. the woman at the well. I took a course on this Gospel in University so I feel like I have a better grasp on the text as well.

    Epistle: Galatians, though this isn’t a strong preference
    being God’s adopted children, freedom in Christ, Fruit of the Spirit, new creation. good stuff. But I suppose I generally look at the epistles together and like the sum of their parts.

    OT: Psalms
    (Although I’m always a sucker for Genesis because it says so much about human relationships and God’s history with people.)
    I pretty much love the Psalms – the breadth of emotion and honesty. I also like that they are clearly poetry and song which I think just resonates with my heart differently than other parts of scripture. You find great metaphors and beautiful pictures of God. My sense is that if you had no Bible except the Psalms, you could probably get by.

  2. Anthony Velez  

    Arthur – My initial list was pretty close to yours: John, Romans, and Psalms. My thinking was that John, as you said, provides such intimacy, particularly by slowing the narrative pace for the last few days of Jesus’s life. I Picked Romans because it is comprehensive expression of Paul’s mature theological reflection. And, I also initially picked Psalms, again as you said, because it resonates with the heart.

    In thinking about this further, however, I have revised my list to another set of works that were already close contenders. The works are Luke, Romans, and Genesis, and their selection reflects my developing concern to see Jesus as the culmination of Israel’s history in God’s plan for the redemption of the world. (To be forthright, this concern has emerged from reading various works by N.T. Wright.) Genesis, obviously, is the foundational narrative for Israel, where we are particularly introduced to Abraham through whom God promises to bring blessing to the world. Luke’s Gospel strongly connects with this motif in that it shows how Jesus is the culmination of Israel’s history while at the same time demonstrating that Israel was meant to be God’s people for the world. This can be seen in the genealogy, and it can be seen in that Luke is arguably the first part of one work the second part of which is the book of Acts (In this way I get to sneak in another book). Taken in this way, one can see the centrality of Israel in God’s universal plan for the world, where Jesus, Israel’s Messiah, is the living embodiment of God’s faithfulness to the promise he gave Abraham for the blessing of the world. Likewise the Church continues to extend this blessing of reconciliation and redemption in it mission to bring the Gospel to the world. Finally, Romans is Paul’s reflection on what God has done in Jesus for the redemption of the world in which Paul is clearly trying to work out the place of Israel in the universal drama of God’s redeeming work.

  3. K.L.B.  

    Yeah. I was becoming concerned you had fallen off Yosemite’s waterfall, or something.

    Luke, Ephesians, Genesis

    E is like L in tenor & phraseology, & Paul & L were good buddies. The authenticity of the two are not questioned, & the strength of their similarities is a strong witness to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    Genesis because it’s the beginning & speaks to everything we believe & practice.

  4. Anthony Velez  

    Kevin – Nice! Ephesians is my second choice, although on a gut level, it’s my first choice as I resonate with its cosmic vision of Jesus’ work, and the place the Church has in proclaiming and ministering that work. What’s interesting is that according to Richard Hays, whose work “The Moral Vision of the New Testament” I am currently reading, Ephesians is among the works of debatable Pauline authorship. I think his take on it was that it exhibited a rhetorical style that was not common for Paul’s writing and yet expressed typical Pauline motifs, such that it may have been the work of a next generation author who was a faithful convert of Paul. If this is the case, it would be a letter that expresses how the thinking of Paul was adapted to a later historical situation, which would then give us some clues about Gospel contextualization. In the end, I am not in a position to make a scholarly analysis of this matter, but I can say that whether it was Paul, or a disciple of his, Ephesians is probably one of my favorite works in the New Testament.

    Oh, and you already know how I feel about Luke and Genesis, except that I want to add that I have often thought it would be cool to do a new film adaptation of the Gospel by using Luke, only this adaptation would focus on the leg work Luke went through in putting his Gospel together. In this way, stories of Jesus would be told by people recollecting to Luke their experience of Jesus and thus these people would not only tell the events of their encounter but the impact of that encounter upon their lives. As I envision it, Luke would perhaps be dealing with a personal issue as he was going about the Mediterranean world to piece his Gospel together, and his encounters with these people would help him resolve his personal matter, which would be a influence in his composition of this Gospel. Thus, the film would be driven by the multiple tellings of Jesus’ story, and the story of the man who was piecing together those multiple stories into one story, which would be animated by his own journey of faith.

  5. Anthony Velez  

    Oh, and Kevin, you saying that Ephesians is like Luke in tenor and phraseology makes me wonder if there has been any scholarly proposals that Ephesians was authored by Luke. It certainly would makes sense regarding Luke’s interest in ecclesiology, and since Luke followed Paul for a time, it is not hard to imagine how he would have been able to faithfully capture and express the central motifs of Paul’s thinking.

  6. Anthony Velez  

    Okay, so I did some online searching, and I came across one man’s defense that Timothy was the author of Ephesians who wrote it on Paul’s behalf, sort of as an amenuensis, but with lattitude, who was also influenced by John in his composition of the letter, which from the get go was intended to be a general letter to all the churches.

  7. K.L.B.  

    One, huh? Time to take out the garbage, isn’t it? I’ve read that some folks don’t believe in the virgin birth, much less that Christ lived. What’s your point?

  8. Anthony Velez  

    Kevin – If I am stepping on your toes somehow I am sorry. I don’t think there is any specific point I am making, rather I am just fascinated by the formation of the New Testament, and am just sharing what I am learning. I will say, however, If I am reading you correctly, I don’t think the idea that someone may have picked up the pen in Paul’s name is of the order of denying the virgin birth or Jesus’ existence. In fact, as I understand it, even many good Catholic scholars accept the idea of multiple authorship. Moreover, although I can see how this is a challenge to divine inspiration I don’t think it’s a denial of it. For me it’s not too hard to imagine that God could work through such circumstances to faithfully communicate what he wants us to know. If this was not your concern, then just chalk this up to me processing aloud these issues for myself.

  9. K.L.B.  

    “…just chalk this up to me processing aloud these issues for myself.”

    Okay, I will.

    Thanks for the explanation.

  10. Roger Green  

    Matthew, Romans, Genesis – for all sorts of reasons I wrote, blocked and then accidentally deleted. But basically, from studies I’ve done.