A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ephesians: Bringing Theological and Pastoral Concerns Together

One of my colleagues at Ashland Theological Seminary, John Byron, has written a helpful review of Bob Cornwall's new book, Ephesians: A Participatory Study Guide. Here is a portion of that review:

The method used for this study is lectio divina ("holy reading"). This method is steeped in over 1800 years of Christian history and tradition. Using the "four movements" (Reading, Meditating, Praying and Contemplating), Cornwall leads the reader through 8 lessons that cover the Epistle to Ephesians. Each lesson has:

1. An opening prayer
2. A reading from Ephesians
3. The lesson for the section
4. A set of discussion questions
5. An exercise to help reinforce the lesson and the experience
6. A historical/theological reflection
7. A closing prayer

I am impressed with Cornwall's efforts. He has done a fine job bringing in both theological and pastoral concerns (not that they are or should be different than one another). He is also not afraid to shy away from difficult, yet important questions. For instance, in the first lesson he dives right into the debate over whether Paul wrote Ephesians or if someone wrote it in Paul's name. The topic of pseudonymity is not usually on the mind of those not engaged in scholarly debates. But Cornwall does not "protect" the reader, but instead draws the reader in to consider the implications. And as far as I can tell, he does not tell the reader what to think. Rather the reader is engaged further in the discussion questions when he asks them to think about how pseudonymity might or might not effect a reading of Ephesians.

Another strength is the way the reader is introduced to the wider Christian tradition. The opening closing prayers of each lesson are taken from the various hymn and prayers that have been handed down to us across the years. In one lesson the reader begins with a prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr (20th cent) and concludes with one from St Dionysius (3rd cent). In this fashion, the reader interacts with and appreciates the continuum of Christian worship throughout history.

You can read the entire review here.

The book may be purchased from Amazon or directly from the publisher.

1 comment:

Robert Cornwall said...


Thank you for making this review available to your readers and for having John review it!

I do appreciate it.