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Ephesians & Community Exegesis

The ampersand in the title is not meant to connect two topics into one but rather to divide the two topics for this blog post. I suppose somewhere down the line, possibly as te Spring quarter approaches, I will give more thought to how these two actully do come together. At the moment I have the following on my mind.

I have almost completed my ECD for the Ephesians course I will be teaching in the Spring, but I am having a hard time deciding which Ephesians commentary to use as the class textbook. I am certain to use the following three commentaries in the class somehow, but I would like to assign one of them as the course textbook.

Peter O’Brien in the Pillar New Testament Commentary Series
Harold Hoehner published by Baker
Andrew Lincoln in the Word Biblical Commentary

I’ve listed them according to which I am most likely to choose right now. Parableman’s post was extremely helpful in ranking them as it were. It seems that O’Brien’s commentary will serve best as a reader for students. While the denser commentaries of Hoehner and Lincoln will help me prepare lecture notes. Plus, I do also plan to assign the second half of The Theology of the Later Pauline Epistles, which Lincoln wrote on Ephesians. I’m open to comments and suggestions. I’ve got about 4 weeks to make up my mind.

Now, this idea of community exegesis. As you may know from earlier ruminations on this blog, in theory I believe theological interpretation is not possible without the community of readers who deem the biblical text as sacred playing a central role. There is a lot more to be said about this. I have affinities toward a communitarian approach to reader-response sorts of methods, but I am not at all prepared to throw all of my eggs in that basket, or more properly, I think there are ways to conceive of communitarian exegesis that do not dismiss what we call more “traditional” approaches to the texts. Here’s my question. How does such a conception find its way into the goings on in a course on exegetical methods? In other words, how does this communitarian rubber hit the methodological road? I can talk about the ideas, concepts and theories all quarter, but I will have failed if the students are not actually able to DO something with all this. What should they DO?

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5 Comments»

  B-W wrote @

I don’t know if this will be a factor in your decision-making, but assuming that you intend to use the commentaries you dont choose as your textbook as parts of a course reader, you should know that it has been notoriously difficult to get feedback from the publishers of Word Biblical Commentary when asking for permission to use readings from the WBC. Give whoever will be seeking permission for you plenty of time….

  Jeremy Pierce wrote @

I know that U.S. copyright law allows for up to at least 10% of a work to be photocopied or used for class teaching purposes, including course readers and online course reserve. I’m actually not sure about the exact amount, because one place I teach allows 20%, while the other allows only 10%. I’m not sure if they are depending on an ambiguity in the law, if one is going beyond the law, or if they are relying on different laws, one that superceded the other. But 10% is safe. I don’t know how much you would want to use from the commentaries that you don’t have them buy, but if it’s less than 10% you don’t even need to ask for permission.

Also, it’s legal to make copies of a whole book for personal use. If you just leave a copy on reserve at the library, students can use it however they want without there being any legal issue, even if they photocopy the entire book. What you would need permission for is if you want to photocopy it for them (if it’s more than the 10% or 20%, which I would ask your library about for their advice) or if you want to have them scan it in and put it online for online course reserve. I have never asked permission for anything I’ve used in class by using enough variety of material that I don’t need over 10% of a book unless I’m going to have them buy the book.

  Chris wrote @

I guess befroe we get too far down the road on the copyright discussion I should say that I am not planning to create a reader with bits and pieces from the different commentaries. All I want to do is decide on which of these commentaries would make for the best course textbook. I will have the students purchase the whole book. The other commentaries I will put on a recommended reading list. The students will not be required to purchase a copy.

  B-W wrote @

Jeremy,

Re: if less than 10% you don’t even have to ask for permission. This is categorically untrue. I should know. It’s part of my job to secure permissions for a seminary. This is misinformation, pure and simple.

  Jeremy Pierce wrote @

Several library websites I’ve encountered as I’ve been looking around say that it can be used without permission if the library or instructor owns a copy, at least the first semester that it’s done. This may not be so for course readers, but I never use those. What I know for sure about is putting a scanned copy online for students to read online (with a password) or to print out or leaving a copy on reserve for students to read or copy themselves in the library. As far as I can tell, that counts as fair use if it’s for educational purposes, is owned by the library or instructor, is not charged for, and is not used more than one semester without permission. Every statement I have seen says that permission is required for subsequent uses, which means that it is not required otherwise. I find it hard to believe that all these academic libraries are wrong on that. See here. for instance. Every policy I’ve seen has different details in terms of page amounts and percentages, but they all seem to have the same common amounts. I think the variations are due to vagueness in the laws themselves and the judicial opinions that have interpreted the laws.


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