The Wednesday afternoon Bible study marshalled a cadre of enthusiastic people, and set off on an adventure (of biblical proportions?) to explore the life of Jesus of Nazareth as it is related by the authors of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). Those who would like to see what the group has been up to, and to engage in the process from afar, can approximate the process here, using the material on these pages..
Of course, the nature of the study is such that listening to others tends to stimulate one’s own thoughts, and so doing the work on one’s own omits this simulation, but I will endeavour to include the responses of the participants to the questions so as to simulate participation in the group.
It is important that you approach the study as would an alien from another planet; i.e. having absolutely no knowledge or preconceptions about the subject matter, in this case, the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Forget all that you have learned in Sunday School and church about Jesus. For the purpose of the exercise, he is a human being, just like you. He is a human being on a spiritual journey, just like you. What you learn about him can be applied to your life, because he is a human being just like you.
In addition to responding to questions, which is a left-brain activity, we will try to unlock some of the wisdom of the right brain with art, music, mime, drawing/painting, dialogue, meditation and sculpture. You may be tempted to ignore these activities, but you will deprive yourself if you do.
I encourage you to find a peaceful location to do the study, where noise and interruption is not an impediment to listening to the still, small voice of the Spirit.
The material will consist of the synoptic* gospels in parallel, which you can view online at https://biblehub.com/parallelgospels/** which I suggest you open in a separate window in your browser, and a list of questions to which you are asked to respond. This list will also include suggestions for music to which you can listen, quotations on which to reflect, and art for you to ponder. Separately I will provide a list of responses that others have provided in the groups I have led in the past. You are encouraged either to write your responses to the questions, or to say them aloud, so as to ‘own’ them and make them concrete. Do not censor your responses, even though some might feel uncomfortably heretical. A few of the questions have answers, available in the scriptural texts provided, but most are asking for your own response. There is no right or wrong here; you are completely free to allow responses to emerge. It is important that you do not censor them; they are what they are.
It would be convenient to keep another window in your browser open to the Bible Gateway, so as to easily look up passages in other parts of the Bible.
If, in the course of your study, you have questions, please feel free to email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Synoptic means ‘seen’ (optic) ‘together’ (syn), for they look at Jesus life together. The Gospel of John is quite different and came much later, so it is not included.
**There are other online versions of the gospels in parallel, but this one provides an easy way to reference the various sections.