Essay / Theology

Rereading Ephesians

rereader coverI’m teaching Ephesians this semester at the Los Angeles Bible Training School, which I continue to call the best Bible Institute in Los Angeles. Well over a half century of urban ministry centered on the Bible, and the courses are free.

Whenever possible in any context, I teach the Bible using the immersion method, roughly in the form advocated by James Gray about a hundred years ago. It’s a simple technique with many advantages; chief among those advantages is that there’s nothing very tricky about it. You just read the primary text straight through at a single sitting. Then you do it again. And again. Etc. I explained some of the rationale behind it in an older blog post here.

Sometimes I just assign students to do the repeated readings in their own classroom Bibles. But other times (on abroad trips, for instance) I’ve printed up little booklets with the text of the assigned book, and a few extra features.

This semester I did that with Ephesians. To see the little booklet, click here or on the image above. It’s really just the ESV text arranged for reading (generally I use NASB at this school, but decided to switch it up this year). You can see I kitted this one out with some specific reading schedule deadlines for my class, and even some recommended things to look for in the rereadings, generally things which will correspond to the course lectures as the semester goes along.

Another feature I added was “Ephesians at a Glance,” which puts the entire text of Ephesians on a two-page booklet spread:

ephesians glance shot

You’re not really supposed to be able to read it. It’s more of a map to help you see what’s where in the whole book. Right away it displays the different lengths of the chapters, which helps you realize that chapter four doesn’t just feel long; it is long! I also find that having the whole book on a one-page map like this encourages students to think of Ephesians as a short (154 verses) and manageable book.

What I’ve highlighted in this case is the eight memory passages I’ve assigned for the term. But you can also use an at-a-glance spread like this to do some fantastic Bible marking that tracks theme recurrences, section relationships, etc.

The rereader booklet adds a lot to the class experience; there’s a sharper focus and a greater concreteness about the task of rereading Ephesians when it’s in a custom-made booklet in your hand. Check out how I put mine together, and see if something similar might help your teaching.


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