A People's Commentary on the New Testament: Matthew 2
For all the Reformation-yelping about sola Scriptura and the priesthood of all believers, the Bible is, by and large, mediated to the masses through an elite few - through scholars who write commentaries, through trained (and untrained) clergy who interpret the text in their sermons, through Sunday school teachers who direct the learning of their students, through publishers with fallen and finite editors such as myself. Nothing wrong with that - except that, like everyone, the elite have blind spots. The Scriptures are, by and large, set in a context of oppression and marginalization. Sometimes the audience is the oppressed; sometimes it's the oppressors. Sometimes both audiences are, for all intents and purposes, one and the same. We overlook stuff when we forget that about the Scriptures, and when we forget that those of us who are comfortable are not necessarily the ones to whom God is speaking words of comfort. TWEET THIS: Those of us who are comfortable are not necessarily the ones to whom God is speaking words of comfort. Hence the project I'm now thinking of:
A People's Commentary on the New TestamentThis ongoing experiment is an attempt to notice in the Scriptures a running theme of "striving" (in the words of people's historian Howard Zinn) "against corporate robber barons and war makers, to make ideals [professed in public] a reality — and all of us, of whatever age, can find immense satisfaction in becoming part of that." I fully expect to add confusion alongside insight to the popular conversation about the Scriptures. In other words, I see the folly in this undertaking. But I'm still going to undertake it. :) I invite you to undertake it as well, because otherwise it's not a people's commentary, it's a person's commentary. If you're game,
- Pick a chapter of the New Testament and interpret it online.
- As you write, think about people you know (or see, or imagine) who are not sitting in the halls of power.
- Think of the author of your particular scripture text not as someone with an advance on royalties in the bank and a Macbook Pro on their lap but as someone with no place to lay their head.
- Use the hashtag #PeoplesCommentary so the rest of us can find it, and so eventually we can sync the whole thing together.