2018 BCC Year in Review


In 2019, By Common Consent will enter its 15th year of Bloggernaccle existence.  The state of our imperfect union of informal bloggers is strong:  2018 clocked in as second only to 2015* in total traffic.  As the sun sets on 2018 , I thought I’d compile some highlights. [Read more…]

Lesson 47: “Let us Rise Up and Build” #BCCSundaySchool2018


Gustave Doré’s Ezra reading the Torah to his people

Lesson Objective: To talk about the complications of what it means to build Zion.

Scriptures: Ezra, Nehemiah

Introduction: Ezra and Nehemiah came from a single scroll in early Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Bible; Christianity would separate the text into two books later on. [Read more…]

Lesson 42: “I Will Write It in Their Hearts” #BCCSundaySchool2018

Orthodox_icon_of_Prophet_Jeremiah_largeLesson Objective: To encounter jeremiads with open hearts.

Scriptures: Jeremiah 162329; and 31. [Read more…]

Lesson 34: “I Will Betroth Thee unto Me in Righteousness” #BCCSundaySchool2018

ProfitisOsie01Lesson Objective: To appreciate and comprehend the Book of Hosea, which describes an ultimately loving, merciful, and forgiving God to the children who repent and rely on Him. [Read more…]

Lesson 28: “After the Fire a Still Small Voice” #BCCSundaySchool2018

This lesson takes up the stories of Elijah from 1 Kings 17-19: the drought, God feeding him in the wilderness, his meeting with the Widow of Zarephath and her son, his encounter with the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel, and his encounter with Yahweh at Mount Horeb. Elijah is something of a paradigmatic prophet, so I’ll focus the discussion (somewhat in the spirit of Abraham Joshua Heschel) on questions of what these texts can teach us about a prophet’s relationship to God—and, crucially, what kind of relationship these prophetic stories call us to have with God. [Read more…]

Lesson 25: “Let Every Thing That Hath Breath Praise the Lord” #BCCSundaySchool2018

This week’s lessons covers Psalms—as in, all the psalms. Here are some things to keep in mind as we get started:

  • “Psalms” in Hebrew means “praises,” or תְּהִלִּים; “Psalms” comes from the Greek ψαλμοί or psalmoi, which means “songs” or “words that accompany music.” The Book of Psalms is the Bible’s songbook, full of emotion, prayer, pain, gratitude, despair, and praise. As Blair wrote last month, the psalms “sanctify our joy and grief, our anger and doubt, as well as our hope and faith.”
  • There are 150 psalms, written by various authors, many of them written by David. However, because in some cases the psalms have been translated out of their original poetic format, and because of copyist errors, etc., scholars debate how the psalms should be numbered, or what their original formats might have been.
  • The psalms are old, and they were written over a span of possibly five centuries.

[Read more…]

Let’s talk about the remarkable Psalms #BCCSundaySchool2018

The 104th Psalm is an arresting remix of Genesis 1, making it one of the earliest examples of hip-hop on record.1 As the King James Version has it:

Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.

Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain…

Here we see God appearing with the grandeur of a king, donning his royal robe in preparation for his work of creation—”don” is the term Robert Alter uses in his translation:

LORD, my God, You are very great.
Grandeur and glory you don.
Wrapped in light like a cloak,
stretching out heavens like a tent-cloth.2

This psalm heavily samples from the creation account where God said “Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good…And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night…” (Genesis 1:3–4, 14).

[Read more…]

Lesson 12: Fruitful in the Land of My Affliction #BCCSundaySchool2018

To help class members understand that if we are faithful and obedient, God will consecrate our afflictions for our good.

Genesis 40-45

Genesis 40-41 takes place in prison, with a butler, a baker, and a candlestick mak— er, I mean, Joseph. The butler and the baker have troubled dreams in their prison cell and wake up sad. Joseph tells the butler that his dream about a three-branched vine that makes grapes for the Pharaoh’s cup means that the Pharaoh will forgive the butler in three days and give him his job back. Unfortunately for the baker, Joseph’s interpretation of his dream about three baskets full of bakemeats that get eaten by birds instead of by the Pharaoh means that the Pharaoh is going to hang the baker in three days. The dreams come true—the butler is forgiven and the baker is hanged. [Read more…]

Lesson 11: Because the Lord Was With Him #BCCSundaySchool2018


Genesis 34, 37-39[fn1]

Learning Outcomes

By the end of class, students will be able to:

  1. Discuss how and why the scriptures subvert our expectations as readers.
  2. Identify different models of divine aid illustrated in the scriptures.


In many ways, the story of Joseph in Egypt is the superhero origin story of the Israelite people. I mean, yeah, we’ve had some feints at origin already, everything from Adam and Eve to Noah to Abraham. And Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all received a covenant wherein God promised them land, descendants, and blessings.

But it’s Moses and the exodus from Egypt that really kicks things off. And without Joseph? The Israelites wouldn’t have been in Egypt to miraculously escape, and Moses wouldn’t have led them in the desert for forty years (and created the typology embraced by everybody from Jesus to the Nephites to African-Americans to Mormon pioneers). [Read more…]