Genesis 29:20-35:20. Jacob remains centerstage. The authors/editors obviously like a good story, but since the narrative is cool, not hot (McLuhan), there are plenty of gaps to fill in. For example, Gen 34: do we enjoy the Jacob’s sons’ (underdog) subterfuge, or weep over its violence?
At other points stories are paired: Isaac’s blindness and the switching of sons (Gen 27), Jacob’s blindness (in the dark) and the switching of daughters (Gen 29); what “seeing God” looks like (Gen 32:22ff and Gen 33:1-11).
Throughout we might wonder about that promise to Abram (“I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” 12:3). How is this working out (or not)? What has God gotten Godself into?
1 John 1:1-3:18. There are at least two reading strategies worth trying here. The first is a chosen naïveté: there are plenty of gems in the book; take one (e.g., “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God”) and sit with it for a good stretch.
The second is to wonder about the weird mix of tenderness and venom throughout. Scholars have various ways of trying to understand this (of course). I find Raymond Brown’s analysis convincing: a community that has understood itself in terms of the tradition represented by the Gospel of John has split, and in the book we hear the voice of the faction thatS eventually joined with the churches that were transmitting what became our New Testament. In contrast to the other Gospels, John does not encourage love for outsiders, and in I John we may be hearing those chickens coming home to roost.
John 9:1-11:16. There are different ways we can read situations. In 9:1-3 and 11:4 it looks like Jesus’ way is to ask what God is doing. Is the author focusing on this as a model for us?
Jn 9:39 (“I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.”): only then, or something that continues to play out? What of Jesus’ followers who claim to “see”?
“If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly” (10:24). In context that may be doubly ironic. First, because likely as not “I am the good shepherd” is a political declaration (see 2 Sam 5:2; Ps 78:71; Ezek 34:23). Second, because any attempt to slot Jesus into our carefully constructed taxonomies is likely to be counterproductive.