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Updated: Jul 31, 2020

REVISED 07/31/2020

The Episcopal Church, Identity and Race

Over the next few months we will be going back to basics and exploring the roots of our belief systems, our history and our situation. The idea of these courses is to begin to establish the pattern of our history in our minds and to see how people, throughout history, have been in relationship with God and each other and how, often, these relationships get strained and broken. For most of the time we will be gathering information so that we are better informed when we have conversations.

This is a lot of information. You do not have to read it all, or any of it. You can dip in and out as you wish, the materials are here if you want them. More reading material will be suggested for Fall classes closer to the time.

Old Testament Survey.

The book which it will be most useful for you is

Old Testament Turning Points, The Narratives That Shaped a Nation, Victor Matthews, Baker Academic, Ada, Michigan. 2005

We will use this book as our survey. Although if you read the Biblical narrative you should be able to keep up.

We will specifically use:

July 12th: Chapter 2: Yahweh establishes a Covenant with Abraham

Genesis 12-25

July 19th : Chapter 3: Moses Leads the Israelies out of Egypt


August 2nd: Chapter 4 and 5: David and then the Division of the Kingdom

For the whole story you will need to look at 1 and 2 Samuel and 2 Kings 1-13

Note: Chronicles tells history from Israel’s point of view and Kings tells the story from Judah's point of view

August 9th: Chapters 6 and 7: The fall of Israel and Judah

2 Kings 14-end

August 16th: Chapter 8: Return and Restoration and to this

we will add some discussion about the Inter-Testamental period and the world into which Jesus was born.

Ezra, Nehemiah, Maccabees (in the Apocrypha - warning this is not a fun book).

That is a ton of Bible reading which most people will not have time for. Find the bits which interest you. As a side note, we rarely read the Bible through. The Books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles are great stories and the machinations of Nehemiah are interesting. If you hit one of those bits in the earlier books which is, quite frankly, boring, skip ahead. The book has summaries, so if you don’t get to it, fair enough.

On August 23rdwe will to discuss the following:

  1. What did it mean to be “God’s chosen people”?

  2. What was the nation of Israel?

  3. By the time of Jesus how did the people of Israel define themselves?

  4. What struggles did Israel face?

  5. How do you think that the vision which God presented to Abraham was, or was not, reflected in first century jewish life in Jerusalem?


Formation will then take a break until after Labor Day. On 13th September we will resume with a survey of Christian History which looks, specifically, at questions of identity, race and nation.

Christianity, Race and Identity*

Session 1: Go into all nations: The New Testament Narrative

Session 2: From household to forum: the redefinition of the Church as a public institution and its growth as a political powerhouse in Europe

Session 3: Stories of Empire: The establishment of the Church of England, Anglican identity and Anglican mission

Session 4: Divided we are: The Episcopal Church and race in the 19th and 20th Centuries

Session 5: Israel and national identity

Session 6: Lessons learned. What have we learned from all of this?

Session 7: Going forward - a covenant of restoration and inclusion.

These sessions are subject to change as I hope to get a speaker or two to join us.

These classes will be team taught and will be on Zoom or Google Drive until Covid infection rates diminish significantly.

Further Bibliography

This is far from exhaustive and theological books, once you stray from the mass market paperbacks, get expensive.

The list I have compiled is from reading content description and reviews, I have not read all the books. The list below are all below $20 except for one. If cost is an issue they are often available second hand but please do pay attention to the edition - scholarship changes.

Boadt, Lawrence, Reading the Old Testament, Paulist Press, 2014

Coogan, Michael D., The Old Testament; a very short introduction, Oxford University Press, 2008

Durken, Daniel, Old Testament, New Collegeville Bible Commentary, Liturgical Press, 2014

Smith-Christopher, Daniel L., The Old Testament; our call to faith and justice, Ave Maria Press, 2005

You will notice most of these are older books if you want to scout out some other things, I like to look at Church House Bookshop (link below) for ideas. That tends to cut out the really radical books which are difficult to sift through on Amazon. Where you purchase things is up to you.

Hope this helps.


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