Understanding The Bible
BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
WHY THESE NOTES?
This set of notes on Bible books grew up through the years as aids to my students in Philadelphia School of the Bible, which, with the Bible Institute of Pennsylvania, has become Philadelphia College of Bible.
The position taken is firmly in line with the College's Scofieldian emphasis on a premillennial, pretribulational, dispensational approach, although I have not hesitated to disagree on some particulars within the framework of the Scofield position. They do not represent a composite of the thinking of the Bible faculty of Philadelphia College of Bible. The positions taken are mine and the PCB faculty are free to state their convictions, whether they confirm mine or suggest other solutions. Although in numerous places I suggest alternate interpretations, I am convinced that I am ethically responsible as a writer to plead earnestly for the view I have felt led to adopt.
Hence, through the years these notes have not been intended as a (brief) text for other PCB professors. Nor are they now. They have been used in varying degrees by my associates. Some refer to them in class. Some merely look upon them as helpful resource material. Naturally, I am pleased and honored that the College has now gathered the various syllabi together and placed them in one notebook for wider and more efficient use.
No one who has seriously worked in the Bible field considers himself "original." We have heard thousands of sermons, Sunday school lessons, Bible conference expositions, and classroom lectures. We have read hundreds of books and magazines. We are heavily the product of our past opportunities. We are hopelessly in debt to others. Like Paul, we would say to ourselves, "What hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" (1 Corinthians 4:7).
It would, therefore, be extremely difficult (and tedious) to give credit to all those whose thoughts have helped us. In my case, I have tried to carefully indicate the source of any direct quotations. I apologize for any oversights and express my appreciation to all who have helped me and, perhaps, you through me.
THINGS TO OBSERVE
ARRANGEMENT: The very arrangement and format of the various syllabi require some explanation. It will be immediately apparent in some syllabi that the order of the books in our English Bible is not always followed. A list is appended toward the end of this Introduction which will guide the reader to any book desired. But the arrangement of the books is deliberate for three reasons:
I. The syllabi were issued to conform to the course arrangement followed at PCB at the time of the decision to place them in one notebook (i.e spring, 1970). A complete revision of the notes would be necessary to place the books in English Bible order.
2. The introductions and often the cross-references are self-contained in each syllabus.
3. And, most important, I agree with Hendrickson, Scroggie, and a host of others that the chronological order often throws considerable light on the books from the standpoint of historical background of the life and times of the prophet or apostle, and particularly does it at times guide the student through the Lord's method of an expanding revelation. For instance, to skip from Isaiah, of the Assyrian period, forward to the Babylonian and exile periods of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, then back and forth to different periods in the Minor Prophets, is both confusing and unproductive. There is general unanimity as to the order of all the prophets except Joel and Obadiah. Much is to be gained by seeing them in their setting as God gradually revealed more and more detail.
CHRONOLOGY: Since these syllabi were produced at different times and sometimes followed different authorities, it has not always been possible to go back and coordinate all dates. There may be occasional discrepancies. Generally, in the Old Testament John Whitcomb has been adopted as the standard. Both the old and new chronology are at least recognized in the "New Testament Chronology" sheet which backs up the title pages of the New Testament syllabi, although some dates may vary, such as those given by Arthur S. Way in the epistles of Paul. Reference to the New Scofield Reference Bible is recommended. Incidentally, most references have been brought up to date to the New Scofield; a few still refer to the old Scofield Reference Bible.
AMOUNT OF MATERIAL: The amount of material accorded each book is by no means a measure of its relative importance. For instance, how many of us have found a satisfying analysis of the Song of Solomon which seriously attempts to tell the story and then draws the spiritual applications as they grow out of that correctly told story? I feel that the Song of Solomon is one of the most misunderstood and underrated books in the Canon of Scripture. Thanks to my teacher in seminary, Dr. H. A. Ironside, an early love and respect for this book was engendered. I found it a real challenge to work my way through this lovely idyll, I hope with profit to the thousands who have sat in my classes. Many books will seem short-changed by comparison, but there is no attempt at proportional emphasis. This is not a commentary. It is a summary survey with extra helps where I felt they were especially needed. There are many wonderful books available to help the student on most of the Bible books. But, as mentioned, there seemed to be a need for some careful evaluation of some Bible problems, even in a survey. These have generally been appended at the end of a specific book or syllabus as Addenda or Excursuses, the chief of which are:
ADDENDA OR EXCURSUSES:
Types in the Book of Esther
Elihu's Status (Job)
Did God Solve the Problem of Suffering? No and Yes! (Job)
Titles to the Psalms
The Whole of Song of Solomon
Inspiration and Revelation (Ecclesiastes)
The Monograph Problem of Isaiah
The Virgin Problem (Isaiah)
Four Ways of Reading Jonah
The Anglo-Israel Theory (Jeremiah)
Lessons from the Prophets (Jeremiah)
Seven Great Themes of the Prophets (Joel)
The United States of the Western World (Daniel)
Identification of the "Willful King" (Daniel)
The Various Views Possible on the "King of Fierce Countenance" of Daniel 8 (cp. chapters 7 and 11)
The Seventy "Weeks" of Daniel 9
Comparison of the Four Gospels (Matthew)
The Temptation of Christ (Matthew)
The Unpardonable Sin (Matthew)
The Kingdom "in Mystery" (Matthew)
Peter's Confession (Matthew)
The So-called Lord's Prayer (Matthew)
"The Kingdom of Heaven" and "The Kingdom of God" (Matthew)
Is Peter the Rock? (Matthew)
Sheet on "New Testament Chronology" (on back of title page, NT syllabi)
Was Joel's Prophecy Fulfilled at Pentecost? (Acts)
Peter's Offer of the Kingdom (Acts)
The Right of Private Property - Christianity or Communism? (Acts)
Was "the Church" Revealed only to Paul? (Acts)
Factors Favorable to the Spread of the Gospel in the First Century (Acts)
How Many Missionary Journeys Were There? (Acts)
On Which Day Should Christians Worship? (Acts)
The Herodian Family (Acts)
Paul and James on Faith and Works (James)
Divine Healing (James)
The Date for First Peter (1 Peter)
The Spirits in Prison (1 Peter)
"The Day of Christ," "The Day of tile Lord," and other such expressions (1 Thessalonians)
The New Testament Use of Foreknowledge, Election, Predestination, Justification, and Glorification (chart at end of 2 Thessalonians)
Varying Views on the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians)
The Christian Standard of Marriage, Divorce, and Separation (1 Corinthians)
The Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians)
Motives That Moved Paul (2 Corinthians)
Christian Stewardship of Money (2 Corinthians)
What Is the Theme of Philippians? (Philippians)
The Strange and Striking Structure of 2 Peter
My Divisions of Orders or Ranks of Angels (Jude)
Pivotal Facts about the Book of Revelation
Four Views on Revelation
Reasons for Receiving the Futurist View (Revelation)
Charts on Revelation
Identification of the Twenty-Four Elders (Revelation)
THE VARIOUS SYLLABI INCLUDED HEREWITH:
SYLLABUS I: OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY (including TYPOLOGY) Genesis through the 400 Silent Years
SYLLABUS II: OLD TESTAMENT POETIC BOOKS
Esther, as explained above; Job; Psalms; Song of Solomon; Ecclesiastes; Proverbs
SYLLABUS III: OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETIC BOOKS
in chronological order (except Daniel)
Prophets of ASSYRIAN Period: Joel; Jonah; Amos; Hosea; Isaiah; Micah; Nahum
Prophets of BABYLONIAN Period: Zephaniah; Jeremiah; (Lamentations); Habakkuk; (Daniel, see Syllabus IV); Ezekiel; Obadiah
Prophets of the PERSIAN Period: Haggai; Zechariah; Malachi
SYLLABUS IV: DANIEL
SYLLABUS V: MATTHEW
including outlines of Mark; Luke; and John
SYLLABUS VI: ACTS AND EARLIER NEW TESTAMENT EPISTLES
Acts; James; I Peter; I and 2 Thessalonians
SYLLABUS VII: ROMANS AND GALATIANS
SYLLABUS VIII: I AND 2 CORINTHIANS
SYLLABUS IX: LATER NEW TESTAMENT EPISTLES
Prison Epistles: Ephesians; Colossians; Philemon; Philippians
Pastoral Epistles: 1 Timothy; Titus; 2 Timothy
General Epistles (still remaining after Syllabus VI): 2 Peter; Jude; 1, 2, and 3 John; Hebrews (because sometimes taught separately)
NEW GROUPING OF BOOKS IN PCB COURSES
(how to find books you want)
SYLLABUS COURSES II II Bi 101 OLD TESTAMENT POETIC BOOKS
(Esther); Job; Psalms; Song of Solomon; Ecclesiastes; Proverbs
V Bi 103/104 NEW TESTAMENT HISTORY
The Four Gospels
VI Acts I Bi 201/202 OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY
Genesis through the 400 Silent Years
VI Bi 203/203 PAULINE EPISTLES I
I and 2 Thessalonians
VII Romans and Galatians VIII I and 2 Corinthians IX Bi 301/302 PAULINE EPISTLES II
Ephesians; Colossians; Phi lemon; Philippians; 1 Timothy; Titus; 2 Timothy
IV; X Bi 303/304 DANIEL AND REVELATION III Bi 401/402 OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETIC BOOKS
Joel; Jonah; Amos; Hosea; Isaiah; Micah; Nahum; Zephaniah; Jeremiah (Lamentations); Habakkuk; Ezekiel; Obadiah; (see Syllabus IV for Daniel); Haggai; Zechariah; Malachi
VI Bi 403/404 GENERAL EPISTLES
James; I Peter
IX 2 Peter; Hebrews; 1, 2, and 3 John; Jude
SYLLABUS BOOK SYLLABUS BOOK I Genesis III Micah I Exodus III Nahum I Leviticus III Habakkuk Numbers III Zephaniah I Deuteronomy III Haggai I Joshua III Zechariah I Judges III Malachi I Ruth III Matthew I 1 & 2 Samuel V Mark I 1 & 2 Kings V Luke I 1 & 2 Chronicles V John I Ezra VI Acts I Nehemiah VII Romans II, I Esther VIII 1 & 2 Corinthians II Job VII Galatians II Psalms IX Ephesians II Proverbs IX Philippians II Ecclesiastes IX Colossians II Song of Solomon VI 1 & 2 Thessalonians III Isaiah IX 1 & 2 Timothy III Jeremiah IX Titus III Lamentations IX Philemon III Ezekiel IX Hebrews IV Daniel VI James III Hosea VI 1 Peter III Joel IX 2 Peter III Amos IX 1,2,3 John III Obadiah IX Jude III Jonah X Revelation
These notes, with all their obvious lacks, are presented to our students and a larger public with the earnest prayer that they may prove of real value to all who use them. The best expositor feels like an unprofitable servant in the presence of the illimitable and inexhaustible Word. I can only offer them for your use as one who has "obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful" (1 Corinthians 7:25).
The use of these notes will vary widely with different teachers. At the least, they will provide resource material. They may be followed more closely by other teachers in class. But, whatever the class procedure, the student is at liberty to bring as many helpful thoughts as possible into captivity to his overall purpose. It is hoped that in years to come they will often be referred to.
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
200 Manor Avenue
Langhorne, PA 19047
United States of America
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