Interactive Bible Study Ideas #1 - The 2 Peter and Jude Overlap
There is a long tradition of monologue-style instruction in the church. This is more or less true of various denominations For all my life I have attended baptist-esque churches, which are known for their focus on the sermon, the epitome of monologue. In High School I also started listening to sermons on tape (primarily by John MacArthur as my church had a good collection) and this continued into my college years (though I branched out). And on the topic of my college years, the monologue was the norm in both my BA degree in religious studies in college and my master’s degree in seminary. Even now I pay a lot of money to The Great Courses to get high-quality monologues (and they really do have a lot of great stuff, by the way).
I am an heir to this tradition; therefore, my default mode has been the monologue. But I am consciously changing that. The monologue is a good way to deliver some things but it’s certainly not the right way to deliver everything. Looking back, it is clear to me that my experience at The Iron Yard changed me. Though I didn’t teach the Bible there, the limitations of monologue in that context made me re-evaluate its usage generally (unsurprisingly, this is related to similar thoughts on having less monologue in technical users groups in "Upcoming Changes to NDDNUG", "From Listening to Active Learning and Mentoring", "Curricula, Mentors, and Group Learning", and "More Options for Learning"). And though monologue is a teaching tool that I use, it’s now just one of several.
In an effort to help others (perhaps you) think outside the monologue, I’m going to start blogging some of my experiments in more active learning in Bible studies. I am going to start with the activity I led today in our Sunday morning study.
The 2 Peter/Jude Overlap
The goal in today’s lesson was to cover the tiny book of Jude. It is a short book and I could have monologued and surveyed the thing in a few minutes. But that is not what we did.
If you know your Bible well, there is a good chance you know that there is some overlap between 2 Peter 2:1-3:7 and Jude. If you know it really well or if you read useful books that will point out this kind of thing (like commentaries), you will know that there is enough overlap to argue for some level of literary dependence between the two. Knowing this, I put together this activity:
- Print out the text of Jude 3-23 on a piece of paper.
- Print out the text of 2 Peter 2:1-3:7 on a separate piece of paper.
- Divide the number of the people you have (I think I had sixteen today) by two and make that many copies of each (so for me, that was eight copies of each)
- Divide everyone up in groups of two, with one person with a Jude page and another with a 2 Peter page.
- Make sure everyone has a pencil.
- Read Jude aloud to prep everyone for the activity. Read the selection from 2 Peter aloud (I didn't do this because we covered it the previous week but some pre-knowledge is helpful). Do mention that there is overlap but say as little about it as possible.
- Have the each group work together and underline the overlapping ideas between Jude and 2 Peter on both pages.
- Beside the verse on the 2 Peter page, have them write the corresponding verse from Jude in the margin.
- Give them 15-20 minutes.
- Walk through the texts discussing the overlap.
By the end of the activity, my pages looked like this. The entire activity took about 45 minutes
Points of Discussion
Here are some things that are probably worth discussing.
- There are a number of themes that overlap but sometimes one is not an exact copy of the other, so they have to expect some variation. Some of the overlaps are small and perhaps not obvious (e.g. the parallels of "waterless springs and mists driven by a storm" in 2 Peter 2:17 and "waterless clouds, swept along by winds" in Jude 12). Some of them are obvious, like 2 Peter 2:6 and Jude 7 on Sodom and Gomorrah.
- The goal of The instruction to write the verses of Jude in the margin of the 2 Peter sheet is to make it clear that not only do the subjects of the two lettes overlap but also the order (an important subject of discussion in studying the synoptic gospels as well).
- Which author read the other? Who wrote first? This is a subject I avoided at the start. When discussion time came around, they were already asking the question themselves.
- Often it’s illuminating to compare Scripture to Scripture but you always have to ask if the overlap between two things is sufficient for one text to help you understand another. You don’t want spurious overlaps leading you to bad interpretations. The level of overlap between these two is huge, lending a little extra credence to using one to interpret the other. The example I used in particular was 2 Peter 2:11 and Jude 8.
- More engagement with the text. They will remember the contents of these passages a lot better because of this activity than if I had just talked at them. I want them primarily interacting with the text and only secondarily listening to me.
- I could have talked about the overlaps between the books. I could have pointed out all the bits and then made an argument for literary dependence. Maybe they would have been convinced. It seems to me that they convinced themselves by the middle of this activity.
- More activity and interaction means less drowsiness. Nuff said.
I didn’t pick this approach because the issue itself is important. I picked this because it was a way to actively engage them in the study of the text.comments powered by Disqus