All post-work is optional and not specifically assigned to a chapter. I will put the material here in an order that roughly attaches them to a specific session.
Post Session 1 (Preface) there are two articles that might be of interest. Robert Johnston's article is long and I give it a short summary in the preface, but here is a link to it in full:
The other article that could be read is material I have gathered from numerous sources regarding 'Stages of Faith'. It has been found to be very descriptive of many believers' experience, and fits the statement that:
Something new is happening. It is not that people are leaving church, but that they are leaving for a new reason. They are not leaving because they are losing their faith, but in order to preserve their faith.
The link to this is at:
Stages of Faith
Stufen des Glaubens
Las etapas de la fe
Le développement de la foi
Estágios da fé
Stadia in geloof
Post Session 2 (Why Human?)
Having pushed for a re-definition of sin as falling short of the glory of God (falling short of being truly human) we also need to think about Jesus and sinlessness. In this article sinlessness is related to true humanness. In the life of Jesus he becomes mature (though always without sin) through how he responds to the 'otherness' of situations. He is the great teacher because he was the great learner.
If you wish to get sight on the four books, what the trajectory is here is a slightly longer article that will take you on that journey. This could be read at any time - not necessarily after this session, and could also be read in sections.
The Arc of the Books.
Post Session 3 (Judas - Human Weakness)
Reading Scripture is a challenge at times in the extreme. Challenging because they speak deeply into our situation and lives… and challenging because they don't always say what we want them to say! Here is an article suggesting that we sometimes put too much weight on certain texts… one example in the article is the well-quoted text that 'there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved'. A universal Scripture, or one for Jews?
Too Much Weight.
The video below is on the 'Jewish Wars' of 66-70AD. There are other elements that could have been added, such as the number of Jews thought to have been killed during the whole uprising (1 million) or the numbers who were crucified (suggested at 500 a day in the final days of the assault), corpses thrown over the wall (into 'Gehenna' / Valley of Hinnom) as room inside the city for burial had all gone, and even cannibalism (historical references from Josephus). Likewise the words of those who would lead them astray (messiah-claimants and prophets) received a major boost when Vespasian goes back to Rome in the traumatic year of the 'four emperors'. The conviction that God would intervene to save the city, for the Temple was present.
Post Session 4 (Peter - Revelation and Expectation)
Here is an article that pushes a little further a historical narrative approach:
Historical Narrative approach.
The article that follows opens up on the different 'sects' within Israel. It fits here with Peter, only in that it shows the various expectations that were in the air for intervention, the removal of the Roman rule and the freedom of the people. Although there was no uniform expectation for a Messiah, where that believe was present the expectation was that the Messiah would be instrumental in bringing about this freedom.
Pharisees, Sadducees, and others.
Post Session 5 (Cornelius' Conversion)
In the session the old question of 'who then will be saved' comes up. Although we should re-frame the concept of salvation toward that of being saved 'for' rather than saved 'from' (which is a response to being 'safe' not 'saved').
Although I might have a sneaky suspicion that God could well be a Universalist here are the reasons why I am not:
Why I am not a Universalist.
Post Session 6 (Witness)
I have a summary (pdf) of the material that undergirds the set of books. It is centred on two remarkable aspects:
- the remarkable life of Jesus of Nazareth, growing up in his first century Jewish culture. Growing up with some perspectives that he would have had to grow away from. Add to that his 'holy book' (set of scrolls that would have included what we term the 'Old Testament' and some others that are neither included in the current Hebrew nor NT canon) as being his guide, and his radical nature becomes very clear.
- Once we move beyond the life of Jesus within the context of Israel we also have to marvel that a message from an obscure Roman province about a young Jew who suffered death at the hands of the Imperial powers gained traction.
Access it here: Simple Summary to download or to read.
Post Session 7 (Time for Wrath)
Post Session 8 (Hung on a Tree)
One of the favourite stories for me from the resurrection appearances is the one of the couple on the road to Emmaus. I think the evidence is strong that this was a married couple - the reflection of Adam and Eve. It is presented in a way that suggests they 'are' Adam and Eve later in their journey after the Eden expulsion.
The Emmaus Road encounter.