Reflection on 1 Corinthians

One of the main attractions of a "study Bible" is the mini-commentary of its footnotes. Scholars gather explanatory material, important cross-references, key observations, and answers to readers' likely questions. In our age of target marketing, consumers can find a study Bible with the demographic and theological slant of their preference so they can "trust" (i.e., predict) the answers they will receive. Poor commentaries lead readers in unproductive directions away from the text, stifle their own investigations of the passage by providing all the answers too easily and overconfidently, or misuse the scarce space they have by emphasizing less important things. Good commentaries offer the right resources to draw readers efficiently, actively, and fruitfully into a passage.

Your assignment is to write footnotes for a passage of 1 Corinthians for a new edition of a study Bible. It is yours to decide the purpose and shape of that new edition and the translation that it will use.

As a small group, choose a common passage from the following list for each of you to study:

1 Cor. 2:1-16

Read the passage closely, collecting observations and questions as you have before. Do the requisite research and write 2-3 pages of appropriate footnotes to that passage. Some study Bibles have other features such as topical essays, charts, and questions for readers; they are beyond the scope of this assignment. You must draw on Johnson, either Fisk or Hays and Hopkins, and other sources as appropriate, but you may not draw on other study Bibles or Bible commentaries. The point is not to depend on, let alone "borrow" or plagiarize, someone else's work. That is not why publishers hire biblical scholars to write footnotes! The point is to work through the passage using a different variety of sources in other formats than your own and draw on them to help you teach through the notes.

You will want to introduce your footnotes with a brief note to your readers describing the character of the study Bible you are contributing to, and note the translation you are relying on. (If you want to use a translation other than English, consult with me first.) This introduction does not need to contribute toward your page count.

If you want to survey study Bible formats to give yourself a better feel for the genre, feel free, but do not use 1 Corinthians to do it. Use 2 Corinthians or some other undisputed letter of Paul.

Your introduction and footnotes will be evaluated both on their accuracy and on their worth in helping your intended readers become better, more mature readers of the passage and the Bible in general.

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

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