Rebecca Stark is the author of The Good Portion — God, the second title in The Good Portion series, a series written specifically to encourage women to immerse themselves in the depths of Christian doctrine.

The Good Portion — God explores what Scripture teaches about God in hopes that readers will see his perfection, worth, magnificence, and beauty as they study his triune nature, infinite attributes, and wondrous works. 

Rebecca also blogs at Out of the Ordinary.


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Theological Term of the Week 

mirror reading
Reading a biblical epistle with the assumption that most of what is written by the author reflects a particular problem within the church receiving the letter; the practice of reading statements or assertions in a biblical epistle and attempting to identify the circumstances that elicited the (supposed) response given by the author.

  • From Tom Schreiner in From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, on the context of 1 Timothy

    As most commentators agree, a mirror reading of 1 Timothy suggests that in this epistle the apostle Paul confronts some kind of exclusivism heresy. Perhaps Paul’s opponents relied on geneologies to limit salvation to only a certain group of people, excluding from God’s saving purposes those who were notoriously sinful or those from so-called inferior backgrounds (1:4; cf Titus 3:9). Paul writes to remind Timothy and the church that God’s grace is surprising: his grace reaches down and rescues all kinds of sinners, even people like Paul who seem to be beyond his saving grace.1

  • From Douglas Moo in 2 Peter, Jude from the NIV Application Commentary (quoted from here):
    [T]he tendency among some scholars is to build elaborate theories on the basis of slim and uncertain evidence. Then, despite little—or even conflicting—data, they use these theories as a basis to interpret and apply a biblical text. Some recent interpreters call this process “mirror-reading.” The mirror is the specific background theory; and when a text is reflected in the mirror of a specific background theory, that theory decisively shapes the text.
    Perhaps the best example of this process is the spate of recent interpretations of 1 Timothy 2:11–15, the passage in which Paul tells Timothy that he does not want women “to teach or to have authority over a man.” Many of these interpretations assume—rightly—that we must interpret Paul’s prohibition in its first-century context. But they then go on to suggest specific background scenarios that usually have little basis in the text of 1 Timothy and sometimes, indeed, little basis in what we know of the first-century world. Yet scholars following this line of “mirror-reading” conclude that Paul’s advice is not directly relevant for the church today because of one of these theoretical background scenarios.

Learn more:

  1. Andy Naselli: Mirror Reading

Related terms:

Filed under Scripture

1Schreiner uses this mirror reading of 1 Timothy as evidence that the universalistic texts like 1 Timothy 2:6 ([Christ] “gave himself as a ransom for all”) refer to every person without distinction.

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

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