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I think that everyone, or at least nearly everyone, who engages in serious Bible study is aware of N.T. Wright.
N-T-Wright The Rt. Rev. Dr. Nicholas Thomas Wright (known to friends and colleagues as Tom) is the former Bishop of Durham (England) and is currently Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at St. Mary’s College in the University of St. Andrews (Scotland). He has lectured and written extensively on the New Testament, and has produced an English translation of the New Testament for use in studying the scriptures.

I have read, enjoyed, and used several of Bishop Wright’s works, including Surprised by Hope and volumes in the New Testament For Everyone series. I would recommend these, and his other works, to anyone interested in learning more about the scriptures and Christian theology. In addition to receiving accolades for his writings, Bishop Wright has a reputation as an engaging speaker and inspiring teacher. Few of us will have the opportunity to hear him in person or to enroll in his courses. Until now.

NTWrightOnline-400pxBishop Wright, in collaboration with David Seemuth, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Wisconsin Center for Christian Study, has established N.T. Wright Online to offer online courses. The courses are delivered through Udemy, and one can enroll through N.T. Wright Online or through Udemy. The courses feature video lectures by Bishop Wright with supplemental written material to enhance learning and online quizzes for review. As usual with online courses, there is an area for discussion with other students.

The courses are not inexpensive but are reasonably priced given the stature and depth of knowledge of the instructor. Current courses include: Paul: A Biography; The Acts of the Apostles; three courses on Romans; Philipians; Galatians; The Storied World of the Bible; and Simply Jesus. If you want to “try before you buy”, you can enroll in a free short course on Philemon. This will allow you to explore the format, engage in discussion, and help you decide whether to enroll in another course.

My experience is that the courses deliver what they promise: they are engaging and informative. Bishop Wright not only increases your knowledge but also trains you how to engage with Scripture. He strikes a good medium between the purely academic and meditative approaches to Scripture. You learn facts about history, culture, and language, but more importantly you learn how to apply Scriptural principles to your life.

P1120871_Louvre_stèle_de_Mésha_AO5066_2For several years the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has engaged in projects to make digital photos of items available on the Internet. One project which garnered much attention is the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, launched in December 2012 in collaboration with Google. This site allows one to view and search high-resolution images of the complete Dead Sea Scrolls archive. Recently the IAA announced the Rockefeller Museum Online project which makes available online digital images of all artifacts in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem. This is the first time time that the whole collection of a museum will be available in digital images online. The museum, originally named the Palestine Archaeological Museum, was established with funds donated by John D. Rockefeller in 1938. The name was changed after the 1967 war. The effort to place the collection online is funded by a grant from David Rockefeller, the son of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

MazzoliBible2Dino (neé Leopoldo) Mazzoli, a retired artist, has created a handwritten and illustrated edition of the Bible. Mr. Mazzoli worked ten years to produce the 23 volume (1,473 page) masterpiece which includes about 5,000 color illustrations. The edition includes the full text of the Christian Community Bible. Sample pages from the work can be seen on Mr. Mazzoli’s web site and in news stories in Visual News and the Catholic Herald. The entire work is available for the iPad and iPhone in the iTunes App Store; all proceeds from the sell of the app go to the Claretians, who translated and produce the Christian Community Bible.

Biblical inspiration — the belief that the Bible is God-inspired — has caused difficulties for thinking people for many years. The belief itself, that God inspired the words of scripture, is not troublesome; the problems arise when we try to explain the mechanism and meaning of inspiration. Are all the words of the Bible inspired, or only some parts? Did God ‘dictate’ the words to the writers (i.e. ‘verbal inspiration’) or did God simply lead the writers to speak on certain topics or reveal selected truths? These are big questions, and they lead to many more questions. I’ve thought about these issues, and I think all Christians should. Each of us needs to come to an understanding of inspiration which can guide us in applying scripture to our lives. Andrew Wilson, author of If God, Then What?, wrote a column for Christianity Today which offers a way of thinking about inspiration. It isn’t a complete answer to the question, but I believe it gives a valid insight. You can read the column, entitled What Scripture and Jazz Have in Common, on the Christianity Today website.