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Applied Biblical Studies Conference Delves into the Letter to Ephesians

August 01, 2012 - 10:45 PDT


STEUBENVILLE, OH (August 1, 2012) - "The Ephesians needed to be reminded that though they were orthodox, though they were strong, though they were discerning and critical of the false apostles, they nevertheless stood in great need to renew that holy passion that they had at first. And I think we do too," said Dr. Scott Hahn at Franciscan University of Steubenville's July 25-27 Applied Biblical Studies Conference.

Drawing more than 400 participants, the conference focused on understanding the Scriptures better, specifically St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians, with each talk centering on a specific aspect of God's Word.

Hahn explained that Ephesus was the Roman Empire's fourth largest city and one of the most Christian cities when the letter was written, but they needed to grow stronger in the faith nevertheless.

"I think we live in a culture that is similar to Ephesus," continued Hahn, a renowned Scripture scholar and professor at Franciscan University. "It is America--it is the 'center of the world,' and yet we have so many distractions. This is epistle is an opportunity for us to return to our first love."

Dr. Edward Sri, provost and professor of theology and Scripture at the Augustine Institute's master's program in Colorado, spoke on Ephesians in relation to the virtuous Christian life.

Pointing out that the epistle is an excellent source for an examination of conscience, Sri also addressed the culture's tendency to replace "virtues" with "values."

"When people talk about morality today, they like to not talk so much about virtue, they talk about another 'v' word: values," he said. "We can have the best values in the world, but if we don't have virtue, we will not be able to put those values into practice."

Mark Hart, executive vice president of Life Teen International, discussed good and bad approaches to teaching Scripture to teens.

"As society's crumbled, as marriages and families have crumbled, the support mechanism and structure that used to be there for adolescent catechesis and formation has ceased to exist," said Hart, acknowledging that many parish educators mean well, but they do not understand that adolescents require a different method from adult formation.

"They are capable of so much more than we ever give them credit for," he said, encouraging the participants to teach their teens Liturgy of the Hours, and have the kids read the Mass readings before Mass begins. "But they're only going to be able to go as deep as those charged with leading them."

Franciscan University biblical theology professor Dr. John Bergsma connected the Letter to the Ephesians to the Song of Songs, explaining that St. Paul's emphasis on the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit is intrinsically connected to the Old Testament book.

"Ephesians 5, where Paul talks about marriage, draws heavily on the creation story of Adam and Eve, drawing a typology between the relationship of Adam and Eve, and Christ and the Church," said Bergsma.

He explained that the imagery for the physical description of the bride in Songs uses "a whole set of motifs that are taken from the visual description of the temple," adding that "in Christ, God's original intention for Adam is restored to us--we're filled with the Holy Spirit, we become this temple being."

Author and convert to Catholicism, Kimberly Hahn, explored the themes of biblical wisdom for marriages in Ephesians. Addressing the common misconception that Ephesians 5 is telling husbands to dominate their wives, she explained the true purpose of the misunderstood text.

"In the dance of marriage, husband is first in the order of authority as head of the home, but wife is first in the order of love as the heart of the home," she said. "When we talk about male leadership in the home we are not talking about men being more important. It is their role of service."

The Jewish perspective of Ephesians was revealed by Dr. Jeff Morrow, assistant professor at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University.

"I think Daniel was very much in the mind of Paul when he was writing Ephesians," said Morrow, comparing the epistle to the Book of Daniel, Chapter 2, in which King Nebuchadnezzar dreamt of whole kingdoms being destroyed.

Pointing out that Daniel's interpretation of the king's dream foretold actual historical events, such as the fall of the Roman Empire, Morrow explained, "Paul is living at the end of the time that Daniel was talking about."

Besides talks and workshops, the conference also offered Mass, a holy hour, and time for individual prayer in the campus' Portiuncula Chapel.

West River, Maryland, conference participant Deacon Thomas Cook has attended the Applied Biblical Studies Conference five times.

"This conference specifically opens up the Word in such a way I'd never get otherwise," he said. "You know you're hearing from people who are preaching from knowledge, and you know they're living it, too."

"This is my 11th time," said Carol Richters, a New London, New Hampshire, participant. "My favorites are Dr. Bergsma and Dr. Sri--and whichever one else is talking at the time!"

For more information on Franciscan University conferences for youth and adults, visit For videos of past conference presentations and other events at Franciscan University, go to


Franciscan University of Steubenville
OH, 43952 US
Tom Sofio - Associate Director of Public Relations,


Sacred Scripture, Scott Hahn, Edward Sri, Mark Hart, Ephesians, St. Paul


Sacred Scripture

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