Exercise on Early Uses of Scripture

"Meaning is use," the philosopher of language Ludwig Wittgenstein famously claimed. Words mean as we use them in our language and life. Indeed, the Bible is as we use it (or was as others used it). This project is meant to expose you in greater depth to what the Bible was and what it meant in early churches, and allow you to consider analogies with your own churches.

How does Scripture seem to function in the life of the churches in the Roman Empire in the first two or three centuries A.D.? How does it compare and contrast with the way(s) Scripture seems to work in your own community of faith or Christian tradition?

Answer these questions both at the level of one specific text (one of the biblical texts used in the Didache or 2 Clement, or perhaps elsewhere in Hall, Richardson, or Wilken) and at the general level (relying substantively and explicitly on the descriptions in Wilken, Hall, and lectures).

It is too early in the course for me to ask you also to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of either approach, or to weigh how the Bible's uses in the early church might edify your own communities. But these are definitely matters for you to consider informally.

Please keep your paper 3-4 pages, double-spaced, and follow the directions in my handout for writing papers. I want to see proper style, clear writing, a thorough answer to the question, and explicit citations of course materials.

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