Bible Study

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When reading the Bible devoid of its historical and textual context, there is no context except the context which any person might supply for it.

or put otherwise,

A text without a context is a pretext.

I always get frustrated when self-proclaimed Bible students or teachers start pontificating about the meaning of the Bible and theology without a clue what they are talking about or what the Bible is talking about. We had a classic example of this in our family this week. A Fundamentalist condemned us Catholics for emphasizing the need for good works (cp. James 2:24) using verses like Romans 3:28 that says, “For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law.”

IMGP0964.JPGWith great ignorance the Fundamentalist said “This verse proves you Catholics wrong. We are saved by faith alone and not by good works.”

Such blithering nonsense has nothing to do with Romans 3:28 — which is not a Catholic-Protestant debate but a Jewish-Gentile debate. But in an argument like this the Fundamentalist ignores the historical and textual context. He uses the Bible verse as a club–as a proof-text to promote his Fundamentalist traditions of men. He creates his OWN context to the detriment of the historical and textual context. It is his argument to trip up Catholics who are not well catechized in their faith.

In Romans and Galatians (and Acts 15) this is the argument: Can an uncircumcized Gentile become Christian (follower of the Jesus the JEWISH Messiah) without first becooming a Jew by being circumcized and obeying all the Laws of Moses and regulations of the Pharisees?

circumcision.gif“Works of the Law” is a technical term. It refers to those actions that made Jews distinct from the Gentiles. Paul says we are not justified by “works of the Law” or Mosaic circumcision and prescribing to all the 613 laws of Moses, but rather by faith.

This is how the Catholic Church understands the New Testament and why the Fundamentalist who takes verses out of their context plays the fool and twists the Scriptures to their own confusion and the confusion of all those who are foolish enough to listen to them.

For more on this read my earlier blogs “Flint Knives and the Gospel” and “St. Paul Did Not Write to Us.”

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I love St. Paul and love to write about him and his epistles. I also enjoyed traveling through six countries filming his life story and theology.

St. Paul Dictating his Epistle to the Romans to Tertius

St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans is often seen as impossible to understand except by theologians — and most skip right over this masterpiece.

With hopes that you will take the time to give Romans a second look, I have written a brief summary of the circumstances and a synopsis of his brilliant letter.

It is fun and easy to read and it is given to all with the hope you enjoy it — and St. Paul.

Sweat was beading up on his bald head and thick eyebrows. His pointed beard wagged as he paced the stone floor speaking rapidly. His dark eyes flashed, his hands gesticulated in rhythm with his rapid utterance. His quick mind was obviously way ahead of the words that rushed from his mouth.

Tertius struggled to keep up, his quill scratching rapidly across the parchment. After hours of dictation and careful refinement this letter was rolled up and given into the hands of Phoebe who boarded a wooden merchant vessel heading for the hub of the Empire. The words were Greek, written from the Greek city of Corinth, dictated by a Jew of the Hebrew religion and sent to Latin Rome.

For the rest of the story, click here.

To see our DVD “Paul, Contending for the Faith

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Two of my Books 1/2 off on Verbum until Wednesday (links fixed)

May 30, 2017

The banner says, How influential can Verbum be? Steve Ray used to have a library 20,000 physical books, but after immersing himself in the usefulness of Verbum, he made the decision to downsize his collection to 10,000 physical books. If you are using the software regularly, you understand how amazing is the ability to search deeply […]

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Should Catholics Attend Non-denominational or Ecumenical Bible Studies?

May 18, 2017

Every day, Catholics are invited by coworkers, neighbors, and even family members to “ecumenical” Bible studies. Should they go? Certainly all of us would benefit from more study of Scripture, but as someone who has been a part of a number of Protestant Bible studies—I’ve even taught them—I discourage Catholics from attending them because of […]

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A Talk with 2 Purposes: Teach Foundations of our Faith & Demonstrate Verbum Catholic Software

February 18, 2017

A while ago I gave a talk in Ann Arbor entitled “The Foundations of our Faith: Scripture, Tradition & Magisterium.” (Watch the video below.) As I love to do, I tied the Old and New Testaments together and showed the continuity that lays the foundation for who and what we are as Catholics today. But my […]

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“Ecumenical” Bible Studies

February 12, 2017

Without a teaching authority or the tradition of the historic Church, this cartoon shows what many Bible studies are really like. I remember Bible Studies that started out with “What does this passage mean to you?”  To keep from arguing or fighting, many just avoid difficult passages. There are many studies that exclude Catholic ideas […]

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Looking for Christmas Gift for a Bible-lover? Look what Verbum Can Do!

December 19, 2016

This is so impressive I just had to give folks an opportunity to see this. There is a reason that thousands of Catholics are buying Verbum. I’ve used it for over a decade! What would Sts. Augustine and Aquinas think?! This is a short video that gives shows you how you can study the Immaculate […]

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Why I Never Open a Bible Anymore … and it’s not because I’m a Catholic :-)

November 17, 2016

It’s simple. Since Verbum Catholic Software was released there is no need for heavy, cumbersome books and Bibles. Everything is now on my laptop and synced with my iPad and iPhone as well as in the cloud on the Verbum website. I literally have thousands of Bibles, books, resources, maps, atlases, Greek and Hebrew dictionaries, […]

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Did the Bible Always have Chapters & Verses?

October 11, 2016

No! The chapter and verse divisions in the Bible are relatively recent additions to the Bible. Originally it was written in Hebrew and Greek and there were NO chapter and verse divisions–in fact, most of the time there was not even spaces between the words! Interestingly, in the book of Hebrews the writer is quoting […]

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Should Catholics Study the Bible? An Interview with the National Catholic Register

October 1, 2016

“Why Study the Bible” and interview with Steve Ray and Edward Sri Posted by Joseph Pronechen on Sunday Sep 25th, 2016 at 8:22 AM Experts Urge Catholics to Explore Scripture Mary Kee knows the benefits of Bible study groups, which she has participated in for upwards of 20 years, usually at her home parish of […]

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Catholic Church: “Don’t Read the Bible!”

September 9, 2016

We often hear that the Catholic Church has forbidden the reading of the Bible! Have you heard this? Yeah, me too! But, this is another one of those big myths which has worked its way into the popular dialog but one that has not been proved from Church teaching and documents. There are two good […]

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Differences Between Catholic and Protestant Approaches to the Bible

August 21, 2016

“Bible Christians” (a misnomer, since Catholics are the real and original Bible Christians), based on their recently devised “Reformation” principle of sola Scriptura, study the Bible with the following premises: 1. There is no binding authority but the Bible alone; 2. There is no official binding interpretation or interpreter; each person ultimately is their own […]

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The Cross & the Crucifix: Letter to a Fundamentalist

August 17, 2016

The Cross & the Crucifix (From a letter Steve wrote to a Evangelical Protestant who asked about the Catholic Crucifix) Dear Evangelical Friend: You display a bare cross in your home; we display the cross and the crucifix. What is the difference and why? The cross is an upright post with a crossbeam in the […]

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Martyrs of Rome: Are You Prepared to Witness for Christ?

June 30, 2016

One of the talks I gave while we were just in Rome today is about the Apostolic Fathers and Suffering for the Faith. It is dear to my heart since we just traveled all over following the footprints of St. Paul and the Apostolic Fathers. I will be speaking on the suffering and martyrdom of early Christians. We […]

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How do YOU Read the Bible?

June 24, 2016

A Little Poem about Reading/Studing the Bible in Context I supposed I knew my Bible, Reading piecemeal, hit or miss, Now a bit of John or Matthew, Now a snatch of Genesis, Certain chapters of Isaiah, Certain Psalms (the twenty-third), Twelfth of Romans, first of Proverbs — Yes, I thought I knew the Word! But […]

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