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Shedding Light on the Gospels Study Guide (based on Bishop Spong’s “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism”)

This  Study Guide, Shedding Light on the Gospels is based on Bishop Spong’s Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism.

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The four gospels – Mark, Matthew, Luke and John – provide the most reliable synopsis of the teachings of Jesus, as imperfect as that summary may be. But the gospels do not stand by themselves, either in content, in purpose or in style, but are a continuation of the Hebrew literature that has come to be called “scripture”. Our purpose in this discussion group will be to identify and dissolve the obstacles to your broader understanding of the truth contained in the Bible. Our guiding assumption is the “Truth” of the Bible will be a personal revelation to be applied only to one’s own life.

Suggestions for Using This Study Guide

1. Organization: The Study Guide is organized by Discussion Sessions. Generally the first two sessions cover thirty to forty pages of reading from Bishop Spong’s book plus the first “refresher” reading of the assigned gospels. While it is not expected that the first two chapters be completed prior to the Discussion Session, that reading will establish the context of the rest of the material and is recommended to be completed prior to the second session even though it will not be discussed.

2. Material from Rescuing the Bible From Fundamentalism: The Study Guide includes extensive quotations extracted from Bishop Spong’s book. The material will sometimes omit words and sentences, linking general ideas together with ellipses (“…”) for the purpose of stimulating our discussion.

3. Biblical Reading: In addition to Bishop Spong’s book, we will be reading the three gospels: Mark, Matthew and Luke (in that order). Any version Bible is acceptable for these readings; Rev. David will be using the NRSV version in the Biblical quotes used. The assignments will include a perusing of each of the first three gospels and a re-reading of them during the study of the specific gospel in Bishop Spong’s book. Our focus will be on the first three gospels only. A later discussion group will address the fourth gospel.

4. Questions for Reflection: Some quoted material is followed by a line with three symbols and a short line to add your comments: ! ” # ______________________________________ This is intended to be used to capture your initial reaction (! “don’t agree”, ” “ah-ha! I’ve discovered something!” or # “I agree”) plus a short phrase to capture any additional words to stimulate your thoughts during our discussion. The quotations will often have an additional question or two that might come up in our discussion. These questions are provided for reflection. In most cases, the questions are intended to help you find personal meaning in the material – how the topic applies to your life in tangible, experiential ways. Writing out your answers to the questions will help deepen your engagement with the material. Thus, consider the questions as “study aids”. The questions identified may or may not come up during the discussion. Their inclusion is intended to give you a foundation of inquiry and exploration that may continue during the discussion – or not.

5. Supplemental Information: Additional information may be provided to augment the material found in Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism. Such material may not agree totally with Bishop Spong’s perspective but is intended to provide additional food for thought.

View a Sample Session from this Study Guide Here


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