“But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” —John 21:25
My formative years were in the era of the DVD. Videotapes were well on their way to being obsolete when I was a kid, and it wasn’t until I was in college that Netflix and other streaming services became the norm for movie nights at home.
The best thing about the DVD format (other than not having to rewind; remember rewinding?) is the bonus features. Chances are, if you got a DVD of your favorite movie, that DVD also included all kinds of special features like director’s commentaries, deleted scenes, or mini-documentaries about the set and costume design. Some DVDs had so much bonus material that it actually got its own separate disc.
I don’t even watch the theatrical release of Lord of the Rings anymore, because it just doesn’t seem right without the 2 hours of extra scenes that are in the extended editions.
When we think about the Bible, we can sometimes forget that it did not fall from the heavens fully formed. Not only were the discrete books that make up the Bible written over the course of hundreds of years by dozens of people, but the process for deciding which books “made the cut” took centuries as well.
So for our final sermon mini-series of the summer, we’ll be exploring four passages from writings that almost made it into the New Testament, called antilegomena (Greek for “disputed”), beginning with the Didache—the earliest example of a Christian catechism.
What might we learn about the first Christians from the writings they read that didn’t get the “official” stamp of approval? What can reading the “deleted scenes” from the New Testament teach us about the Christian faith in its earliest years. How might that change what we consider “Scripture” and its relationship to faith?
Let’s find out together through the month of August!