Reflection on Bible Study


From the back cover of the book:

“What if Luke had to reteach the basic lessons of his history of the early Church?  How would he communicate his point while livening up the details for someone who either was not present for the actual event or had not paid sufficient attention the first time he wrote Acts of the Apostles?

This is Luke’s résumé for a younger and still eager Theophilus.  He reenacts stories and replays events almost as a performance before the audience’s eyes. He knows that history is not a dry memorization of facts nor a chain of events, but a compendium of vital lessons that guide growth and change.  History unfolds as episodes, cohering around an intelligible theme with drama and suspense.  Not unlike a play, it requires imaginative performance to both entertain and provoke an audience to react.

This is a fresh way of presenting the Bible, a method based on a rapidly growing movement in college and university classrooms called “reacting.” It is in line with more traditional ways of understanding Scripture as performed in the context of liturgy.  At the same time this book challenges individual with creative poems and illustrations and a built-in system of application questions for daily readings.”

When Mark C. Carnes, Professor of History, Columbia University and author of Minds on Fire:  How Role-Immersion Games Transform College (Harvard, 2014) read the book, this is how he characterized its approach to studying the Bible:

“A spotlight illuminates two figures on a darkened stage.  The taller actor—is it Russell Crowe?—is the Apostle Luke.  With him is a younger man.  Luke is explaining the skepticism that greeted the apostles after the death and resurrection of Jesus.  But just as you settle into your chair to watch the actors do their magic, Luke steps forward and addresses you:  “Ask yourself: ‘Have I allowed my own sense of inadequacy to keep me quiet about what I believe to be the truth?”’ Now you are a performer in a timeless existential drama, an inspiring production by Mark Whitters, savvy director, superb Biblical scholar, and masterful pedagogue.”

Mark Carnes is the mentor for many of us who are trying to figure out new ways of reaching our students, and I think his review of my book hits the nail on the head when it comes to my goal for this book.

About markwhitters

Always seeking new ways to make ancient texts come alive, Mark Whitters has taught and designed award-winning "reacting" classes for many years at Eastern Michigan University. He has written more than 20 mostly academic articles on Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. The publications for his essays include Harvard Theological Review, Journal of Biblical Literature, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Journal for the Study of Judaism, and Commonweal. He also was a lead editor for the 7-volume Encyclopedia of World History (Facts on File, 2008). Outside the classroom, he sponsors a spiritual awareness discussion group for area college and university instructors called the Socratic Club, and has traveled many times to the Middle East and the Mediterranean world. He is a member of an ecumenical brotherhood called the Servants of the Word, whose Detroit house reaches out to youth in the neighborhoods. In his time off, he loves cooking (and good food) and still tries to keep in shape. And he prays!
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