Methodists Do It, Presbyterians Do It…Why Don’t We Do It?

So I’ve been asked to prepare a curriculum for a series of workshops/seminars for African American clergy to acquaint (or reaquaint) them with the variety/breath and depth of biblical scholarship that there is out there.

In working up this curriculum, I’ve been putting together a reading list of commentaries and other books  that I think would be really helpful. That’s when it struck me.

The Methodists have Abingdon Press  with the Abingdon Old/New Testament Commentaries and the Interpreting Biblical Texts Series.

The Presbyterians/Reformed have Westminster-John Knox Press and the Interpretation series.

The Lutherans (at least the ELCA and the like) have Augsburg-Fortress Press and their commentary series.

Even the free-range/freelance folk have Yale Univ. Press and the Anchor Bible series.

Notice who’s missing? Us.

For all of our talk that the world needs our saving message, why aren’t we putting our message out there in as many places as can be seen. Why don’t we have a biblical commentary series? Or a Koranic commentary series? A commentary on the Vedas? The Tao? The sayings of Confucius? Hell, why not even commentary on the poetry of Rumi or Hafiz or Rilke?

For all of our talk, why aren’t we putting our ideas out in the religious marketplace for others to see?


6 thoughts on “Methodists Do It, Presbyterians Do It…Why Don’t We Do It?

  1. Kim,

    Have you seen these two books available on the Beacon Press web site:

    Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire

    Understanding the Bible: An Introduction for Skeptics, Seekers, and Religious Liberals

    The second book has a study guide available for adult education use:

    Would these books qualify as “putting our ideas out in the religious marketplace for others to see”?

    • Steve,
      I have copies of both books. I like them both (I would go even further and say that I LOVE “Saving Paradise”).

      They are NOT what I’m talking about….at least on the specific level that I was talking about.

      Have you read a commentary…like Linda Day’s commentary on Esther (from Abingdon)? If you haven’t, then I recommend picking up one like hers or Walter Brueggemann’s commentary on I and II Samuel (from W-JK). There is something to be said for an in-depth look at a contained piece of writing.

      This is not to say that “Saving Paradise” and “Understanding the Bible” don’t put “our” ideas out in the religious marketplace–(although I could make an argument that “Saving Paradise” doesn’t because most UUs don’t want to acknowledge our Christian roots) they do. That was not what I was asking about.

      I am asking why don’t WE publish commentary-like works on the world’s religious texts. There are many ways of gaining insight into the different levels of those texts that it would seem like a natural fit for a group that claims to gain inspiration from all the world’s religions.

      • I’ve mostly given up on getting UUs to read Saving Paradise and am working on Christians instead.

        I am continually astounded at the intellectual incuriosity so many UUs have toward their own religion.

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