The candle and the note

Chris and Lucy entered a building looking for Manuel. In a room they found a note and a lighted candle. Chris looked at the note and read it aloud:

“Hi! It’s 2:30, and I’m leaving to run some errands. I’ll be back in a couple of hours. BTW, the electricity is out, so I lit a candle for you. — Manuel.”

Then Lucy said, “I know how we can find out how long it’s been since he left! Look, the candle has been burning since he lit it and has a significant amount of wax that’s melted and dripped down. If we figure out what the rate is which the wax is melting and measure the amount of wax that has thus far dripped, we can work backwards to find out how long it has been since he left.”

Chris said, “Why waste your time? The note says he left at 2:30.” Lucy said, “Don’t believe everything you read.” Chris replied, “Look, I’ve known Manuel for a long time, and this is his handwriting. Don’t be ridiculous.”

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BTh Essays – Module 4 – The Synoptic Gospels

Complete three gobbets (short comment questions). Chosen texts: Matthew 2:14-15; Mark 4:38-39; Luke 8:48.

Matthew 2:14-15

This is a notoriously difficult text (Beale, 2012). Luke, the only other synoptic recording Jesus’ early life, provides no parallel;[1] but once we understand Luke and Matthew differ in their primary purpose and audience, it becomes clear that the text’s role is unique to Matthew’s intent. The latter, however, seems to be subject of debate, too (Carson, 2017), with some suggesting we should never look for a single audience and purpose (Blomberg, 1992). Blomberg, Carson, and many others seem to believe Matthew does not state his purpose clearly, though Blomberg does conclude that Matthew’s theological emphasis points to the primary purpose being apologetics directed to a Jewish audience.

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BTh Essays – Module 3 – New Testament Survey

The Epistle of James and the First Epistle of John

The Epistle of James

Introduction. Scholars have proposed dozens of disparate solutions to the most basic questions regarding the epistle of James (Edgar, 2001). It is indeed difficult to assess genre, audience, message, purpose, and social, historical and cultural setting of this epistle. This is specially so when faced with the challenge of dating this book; though out of scope for this essay, we must at least acknowledge that opinions ranging from mid 30s (Hodges, 2015) to mid second century (Allison, 2015) must be taken into consideration.

Popular views that see James as mere wisdom literature (Bauckham, 1999, as cited in Baker, 2002), as paraenesis (Dibelius, 1976 as cited in Moo, 2015), or as diatribe (Ropes, 1916 as cited in Edgar, 2001), and generally lacking logical structure, have been challenged in the past few decades (Jackson-McCabe, 2003; Reiher, 2013; Moo, 2015). James cannot be taken as a discourse in a vacuum without neglecting the socio-historical background and impacting our understanding of message and purpose. However, Moo’s (2015) suggestion that James is a homily then transcribed in epistolary form allows to retain both exhortation and wisdom characteristics, now underpinned by a historical setting providing us with occasion, motive, audience, and social situation, and thus shedding new light on the message.

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BTh Essays – Module 2 – Old Testament Survey

Introduction to the book of Exodus and the book of Haggai


Until the 19th century the historicity and traditional authorship of the Pentateuch was widely accepted. Nowadays, however, Exodus is a controversial book (Seiglie, 2003). The Documentary Hypothesis constituted the first substantial shift, rejecting Mosaic authorship (Allis, 2001). The biblical minimalists went much further, denying archaeological evidence exists in support of biblical Israel (Thompson, 1999). Yet Exodus is “the most significant historical and theological event of the Old Testament” (Merrill, 1996, p. 57-58), thus of critical importance (Hayes, 2009).

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BTh Essays – Module 1 – Introduction to the Bible


Divine revelation is seen as essential to Christianity across the spectrum. Ball (2012) says that any knowledge one may have of God is solely “the outcome of God’s gracious initiative and of his will to be known” (p. 13), while Bahnsen (1996) goes as far as saying that God’s revelation is the very foundation of knowledge. Of all forms of divine revelation, written revelation—the Scripture—was ultimately necessary to preserve all we need to know in order to relate properly to God (Erickson, 1985).

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