Read the first two (you do not need to read the third) serendipities that J.B. Phillips describes in Spiritual Classics on pages 93-95. Be sure to read the introduction about him as well. Then read Richard Foster’s Reflections on page 98. When you finish answer the following questions: Explain in your own words how Phillips’ research and study helped him to understand the two uses of “fear and trembling”. What are the two different uses of it in Paul’s writing? What you are reading is the very end of a long process that Phillips has undergone to study the texts carefully. From his serendipitous exclamations we can conclude that he first went through a process that looked something like this: Read: Phillips carefully reads each of the chapters where “fear and trembling appear” before doing anything else. And actually in his case, he read each of the entire books as well. Note: not skim, but read one slow word at a time letting it sink in. Research: Phillips then looks at this phrase from three different angles:Reveal: Phillips finally looks at all three features of his research and then sits on them. He soaks himself in his findings until he is able to determine how these 3 pieces of research fit together to un-riddle the meaning of the phrase: “fear and trembling.” This process is like finding just the right puzzle pieceâ€”it requires trying things and seeing how they fit and how they do not fit. Ultimately, he comes to the conclusion that there are actually two meanings; that the phrase does not always mean the same thing all the time. This shows a nuanced and careful study of the phrase at it appears in the broader context of Paul’s epistles (letters) and a resistance to quick and simple sweeping oversimplifications. Historical: (Paul, Titus, the churches Paul is writing) Narrative: (the language, structure of the letters, the larger story that emerges from all of Paul’s books together; all the places where this phrase appears in Paul’s writings) Theological: (what the rest of the Bible demonstrates about God’s character and how that challenges, drives, and helps Phillips decide what this one passage will mean) Looking at this process answer: What does Richard Foster fear will get in the way of taking the long road that comes from journeying through these 3 steps carefully? As you answer, consider how Foster’s warning impacts each of the 3 steps. 3. Looking at these 3 steps can you imagine yourself feeling like Phillips does about this kind of work? What is still in the way for you to appreciate careful study of the biblical texts? 4. Find a translation that uses “fear and trembling” in Philippians 2:12 (you read this verse earlier in the course). Then, using the internet, find Phillips’ translation of this verse and answer: knowing what you now know about Phillips’ thoughts on this subject, why do you think he chose to translate these words the way he did?
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