Using the GBC in Bible Study Groups and Classes
The Global Bible Commentary invites its users to:
Ø read the Bible on their own, going from book to book through the entire Bible.
o The GBC provides an excellent incentive for individuals, groups, and classes to read and study the entire Bible.
Ø read the Bible with the scholars from all over the world and from different religious persuasions. These contributors reveal (rather than hide) the particular socio-economic, cultural, ethical, ideological, and/or religious concerns and interests that drive their reading of the biblical text in specific life contexts. Through this openness the contributors invite other readers of the Bible to dialogue with them.
o The users of the GBC are themselves called upon to make explicit the contextual concerns and interests that drive their own reading of the biblical text. The GBC offers all a series of models for reading the Bible in terms of one’s life context and for understanding one’s life context in terms of a biblical text.
Ø read the Bible with others who, like the contributors to the GBC, propose interpretations of the Bible that might be quite different from ours, even though they might be part of the same group or class..
o By respecting other people’s different interpretations, the users of the GBC who participate in group studies a) become aware of the contextual, theological, and textual choices they have made in formulating their own interpretations and b) are then in a position to better assess the choices they made and to assume responsibility for these choices: Are their interpretive choices the most helpful in their life context?
Most of this can be achieved by individual users of the GBC, such as preachers preparing a sermon through which they seek to address their congregations’ needs by taking into account their particular situations. But the GBC is especially designed for Bible study groups and classes that look for a constructive and critical way of reading large portions of the Bible, if not the entire Bible, and of promoting active participation of their members.
With seventy-two contextual commentaries or articles, the GBC provides ample resources for two semester-long classes in seminaries or colleges (contrasting other interpretations, as suggested by the bibliographies, with those of the GBC) or for a year-long Bible Study Group.
Ø For each session, one (or two) biblical book(s) and the corresponding GBC commentary(ies) may be assigned, asking the participants to prepare themselves for the session by
o reading the biblical text (with or without the help found in a study Bible such as the NISB and/or in commentaries) to write down what, in their view, this text has to say about their own life-context about the “relationship between the People of God and the World” (the broad question behind the GBC commentaries);
o then, reading the GBC commentary on this text, taking note of
§ the differences between their own contexts and that of the GBC contributor, carefully identifying in both cases the particular contextual issues that are of concern for the contributor and for the member of the group/class;
§ the differences between the ethical and theological points they underscored and those underscored by the GBC contributor;
§ the differences between the features of the text they found most significant and chose to emphasize, and those chosen by the GBC contributor;
o During the session, following this preparation, a fruitful discussion among the members of the group can take place, which according to the goals of the group or class can be focused on one or another type of differences among the members’ interpretations as compared with the one proposed in the GBC.
Ø After several such sessions on a series of biblical books and corresponding contextual GBC commentaries, a group project (or individual projects) might be to prepare a contextual commentary for their own life-context, following the pattern found in the GBC—including, in addition, a comparison with the GBC commentary.
Ø A discussion of this group (or individual) project can be devoted to its refinement for eventual publication on the web-site of the GBC http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/religious_studies/GBC/ where exemplary contextual commentaries in response to those of the GBC will be posted following critical review. Send submission to the General Editor: Daniel.M.Patte@Vanderbilt.edu
 The focus on “differences” is essential; it is only when we recognize the differences between our interpretation and those of others that we learn from them, and thus truly respect them—rather than co-opting them, by pretending they are the same as ours, or rejecting them as meaningless.