Bible Quizzes for SMART PEOPLE
Final Essay (4/08)
2008 Revised Com. Lectionary (Year A), beginning 1/6/08
2007 Revised Com.
Lectionary for Sept. 9
through Dec. 31, 2007
2007 Revised Com. Lectionary for May-Sept. 2, 2007.
2007 Revised Common Lectionary Expositions (January -April 2007)
William R. Long, M. Div., Ph. D., J. D. 12/24/06
Expositions, Quizzes and What Not
This page and the links to the left contain my reflections on the Bible, except for the Book of Job. My major concern is in expositing the Revised Common Lectionary--especially for pastors, teachers and Biblical students. Essays on the lectionary are to the left. For hundreds of essays on the Book of Job, click here. My interest in writing these expository essays is to make the message of Bible accessible both to the general reader as well as to the most experienced Bible student. I am convinced that insight of all kinds--spiritual, practical, intellectual, literary--is always breaking forth from the Bible. All we need is an open heart to hear what is being said and a persistence to try to understand its message. In this mini-essay, I want to introduce you to me as a Bible student. Then, you can seek out the essays you desire. Let me know if you have any comments, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for joining me on this journey.
My "Biblical" Experience
There was nothing in my first sixteen years of life that would have led anyone to think that I would become a nascent biblical scholar. Though I always had been a serious student, I spent more time on athletics, paper routes, schoolwork and tormenting my three brothers than on spiritual or biblical pursuits. That all changed in 1969, when I made what Presbyterians call a "profession of faith" in Christ as Savior and Lord. What that means is that I had an Evangelical experience of faith and decided from that moment that the best thing I could do to cultivate this faith was to study the Bible every waking moment of my life. I reasoned as follows: if God was indeed who the Bible claimed He was, the Lord of heaven and earth, a God who was personally concerned with each one of His creatures (numbering the hairs of my head, you know), and if He was a loving God who wanted to communicate His will to the world through His Word, then the most important thing in the world for me was to spend as much time as I could absorbing this message. Though of course I spent time doing lots of other things, I began to study the Bible at age 19 (in 1971) with an intensity I had never devoted to any other pursuit. I eagerly immerse myself in its pages, trying to master every nuance of its language, learning its content, applying it to my life, trying to soak every ounce of spiritual insight out of it that I could. Friends who knew me at that time probably thought I had gone a little overboard. Check that; a great deal overboard. I even forced my then-twelve year-old brother to read the Psalms into an audiotape so that I could fall asleep to the Psalms every night.
Learning the content wasn't enough for me. I had to memorize the words. Believing, like the Rabbis, that God was in the very syllables used, I began Greek at age 19 and Hebrew at 20 (I took Latin in high school), eventually teaching Biblical Greek to fellow seminarians when I was in seminary, so that I made sure I knew with as much precision as possible what the actual words were. After all, I reasoned, since these were the very thoughts of God, I could never expend too much energy to try to be clear on exactly what they were.
I switched my major from pure mathematics to religion during my junior year at college (my family was very much of a "math" and "business" family, and I had excelled in math/laboratory science in high school) so that I could, as I explained to a friend, "study the Bible for credit." This involved my learning all kinds of modern critical approaches to the Bible, which I mastered well enough to have the professors remember my name, while my true interest was in memorizing and sucking every ounce out of the marrow of the text for spiritual guidance. After college I attended an Evangelical Protestant theological seminary (Gordon-Conwell, in South Hamilton, MA), graduated summa cum laude, got the highest score ever recorded on the Presbyterian Bible Content exam (which they offered to prospective ministers) and then returned to my undergraduate school to do a doctoral program in the History of Religions: Early Christianity. During my doctoral program I won a fellowship to study at the German University of my choice for up to 1 1/2 years; I chose Tuebingen, the historic home of innovative theological thought in Germany. Can you see any patterns here?
Well, I secured a teaching job after completing my Ph.D. in Religious Studies at a secular college in the Western US, and, over the next two decades, put out several books on the Bible (focusing on the Psalms, Jesus and Job). But my approach was always different from the way my professors wanted me to write about the Bible. They preferred that I target my comments to fairly narrow scholarly audiences, pushing back our frontiers of knowledge one footnote at a time. I, in contrast, felt that I wanted to write to the supposedly ubiquitous "intelligent general reader" who also wanted to know something about the Bible. Thus, my books are designed for the latter, as is this web site.
Within three years after beginning teaching religion in a college (and doing a lot of teaching in churches and synagogues), I began to develop loads of other interests--civic, political, educational, legal. I gradually morphed out of teaching religion and biblical studies by becoming a professor of world history at a small college in the Midwest. Just as I majored in religious studies to get "credit" for studying the Bible, I decided to become a professor of world history so that any book I read could arguably be "useful" in teaching. After six years doing that, however, I was bitten by the law bug--which actually interested me a great deal as a teen, but was a distant second interest to religion. Law school at age 44 was followed by stints as a litigation attorney and law professor. It was during my law professor phase (2003-2006) that I began in earnest to want to reintegrate my Biblical knowledge with the knowledge of the world I had picked up in the fifteen or so years since I left off teaching religion. So, for example, my 2004 book on Job shows the influence of my legal training. In any case, now that I have left my legal teaching, I am feeling free again to immerse myself not simply into the biblical text, which I will do here, but into other classic texts and authors whose modes of thought and very words have shaped our understanding of life in the West.
My wish and hope is that you, through these essays, would also deepen your appreciation of the compelling power of the Biblical message.
Dr. Bill Long
Copyright © 2004-2008 William R. Long