No, this is not an episode of Blue’s Clues… and only those with young children during the last 10 years or so will understand that reference…
In the post, Josh reminds us what it would have been like to receive one of Paul’s letters in the first century. That’s right… the New Testament was not a collection at first. Instead, individual “books” within the New Testament were sent to different groups or individuals scattered around the Roman empire.
What would it have been like to receive one of those letters? Josh writes:
Imagine yourself as a brother or sister in one of the churches of Galatia during the summer of A.D. 50. Everyone is abuzz, for you’ve just received a letter from Paul in Antioch. Rumor has it this letter is no holds barred. They’re saying that it has to do with the men who have come into the assembly of late who are teaching things that contradict the message Paul brought you when he and Barnabas were here.
When you first received this letter you heard it read aloud in the assembly. You may or may not be able to read yourself, so maybe all you ever did was hear it read to you. Eventually, copies of this historic letter were made. Some leading brothers in the church intended to spread its liberating message to all the saints in other cities and regions. These were words that everyone had to hear.
The point is, when you read the letter you read it as just that, a letter. It was not a “book” to you. It was not divided into chapter and verse. Nothing about it resembled a textbook, or a manual on “how to be free from the law and live the Christian life.” Never once was it suggested to you in any way that you had to dissect it, analyze it, and cross reference it with other of Paul’s letters in order to find the “key” to a victorious life. In fact, looking back on the first century from our present-day vantage point, such a thought is ridiculous.
You should definitely jump over to Josh’s post and read the rest.
But, for now, think about these questions: Is it possible to read the New Testament today more like those original recipients would have read it? What are the benefits or dangers of reading it in this way?