Reading the New Testament (Week 6)

This week’s reading is John 2-4. Jesus attends a wedding at Cana in Galilee, goes briefly to Capernaum, then heads south to Jerusalem for Passover, after which he preaches in Judea and briefly in Samaria on his way back to Galilee to preach.

Chronologically this period comes after Jesus returns to Galilee after his baptism and temptations, and ends as he preaches throughout Galilee, of which we read last week in Luke 4-5.

Reading the New Testament (Week 5)

This week’s readings are Matthew 4 and Luke 4 and 5. These chapters expand on some of the events we saw briefly in Mark 1 last week. So much happens that I won’t be attempting a complete commentary.

Temptations in the Desert

Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13

We begin with three approaches to Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ temptations: the logistics, which have theological implications; the temptations themselves and their relevance to us ordinary mortals; and Jesus’ scriptural responses, which, taken in context, emphasize a certain theme. Then we’ll briefly note some parallel events and passages in scripture.

Logistics: The Devil’s Role

The King James Version (KJV) and the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) differ on key points, where Jesus’ sojourn in the wilderness and his temptations are concerned. The KJV accounts raise some concerns.

Reading the New Testament (Week 1)

This Week’s Readings

This week’s readings are Matthew 1 and Luke 1. I’ll look at them separately, for the most part, though the Gospels often run in parallel. I’m a big fan of reading chapters and books whole, not just skipping around and cherry-picking whichever passages support the doctrinal point of the moment.

You’ll occasionally find me summarizing or retelling a passage without offering additional thoughts. I’ll do this either to connect with something earlier or later in the text (or discussion), or because sometimes merely retelling a passage in different words can be insightful.

Sometimes I will speculate, as I imagine what might have happened, given the sparse record we have. I’ll try to be be clear about that, when I do.

Lenten Reflections

In the Protestant tradition, today is the last day of Lent. (The precise span is different in other traditions.) Unlike most of the Christian world, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints don’t formally observe Lent. Our awareness of it tends to be shallow and cultural, not deep and devotional.

As in: People give things up for Lent, right? Like chocolate and reality television? Just to prove they can? Things they love and to which they intend to return? — because if they were things they should give up anyway, they wouldn’t wait for Lent, and their abstinence wouldn’t end with Lent, would it?

As in: Lent appears from the outside to be a needed respite after the day- or weeks-long bacchanal of Mardi Gras, an orgy of fleshly pleasures so intense that it takes participants six and a half weeks to detoxify (physically and/or spiritually) sufficiently that they can walk into church on Easter in a straight line and with a straight face.

This is a shallow, ignorant view of Lent. Let’s take it more seriously for a few moments here.

New Perspective

You’ve already guessed that I’ve begun to think more seriously of Lent. A favorite Christian blogger, Kim Hall (at GivenBreath.com) has been helping me, even if she doesn’t know it. In a lesser way, my Mormon bishop (pastor) helped this year, too. So did some people whose names, roles, and troubles I will not mention beyond this sentence, who have turned to me in recent weeks for counsel, comfort, or simply a listening ear.