Why Selected: This is a reference to a part of a larger site covering a number of biblical books. It is essentially an outline to a Bible study upon Ephesians. It offers two different outlines each of which splits the book into a dozen parts. For each part there are then three sets of questions pertaining to observation, interpretation and application. The latter two are a useful extension upon the GSST course which largely restricts itself to observation. There is additionally a section entitled 'commentary' which digs into each verse in detail.
What learned: I read a couple of the sections. The discussion questions on Ephesians 6 were excellent; I particularly liked the way they encouraged you to compare the passage with other passages which were similar or appeared to contradict. The cross references verses and passages with the 'links' highlighted were also very useful. The commentary part themselves proved to be relatively weak. Whilst I didn't come across anything that was provably wrong a lot of the points made lacked explicit justification. For example the assertion that non-Christian's actively co-operate with fallen angels. In all they read a little bit more like a preachers' sermon than a true commentary.
Would recommend: I would certainly recommend this site for anyone doing a Bible study on Ephesians. The questions force you to read and consider the passages and allow you to make your own decisions whilst providing some useful pointers to those that may be too indecisive. For those studying at a masters level or above the questions and cross references are still valid although the commentary section lacks the technicality and rigor required to achieve full usefulness.
Why Selected: This website is a good starting point towards a lot of background information on early Christian writings and in particular for the New Testament. The URL given points to the page about Ephesus. It contains links to references to Ephesians in the early fathers and half a dozen different introductions given to the book. In addition to the useful links it also provides a brief summary of the current theological thinking on the authorship of Ephesians.
What learned: I did not follow all of the links but two that I found particularly interesting were the papers by Wallace and Goodspeed. The latter is written almost entirely to 'prove' the non-Pauline authorship of Ephesians. He lists a total of 21 points that appear to him to render Pauline authorship implausible. Interestingly a number of them hinge upon the basic premise that the letter is too Pauline. The argument is thus made for a later 'collector' and 'admirer' of Paul's work to have written and introduction for it. Wallace's paper is far more balanced. He advances points for and against Pauline authorship. He also makes notes about and time and place of authorship and destination; all of which appear to be undecided in theological circles.
Would recommend: I actually found these papers fascinating but in an almost surreal sense. The Bible clearly states that Ephesians was written by Paul and for me personally that fact that pseudepigraphical literature exists from that era does not even begin to persuade me that Ephesians is a fake. However the facts that are dredged up in the debate and particularly the analytic comparisons between Ephesians and the other Pauline epistles were very interesting. I would recommend this site to people wishing to dig into the background of Ephesians academically. For the purposes of actually understanding what God is saying through Ephesians this site is less useful.
Why Selected: I actually skipped this reference first time around as the web-site did not really appeal to my 'academic' snobbery. However a week traveling from hotel to hotel was enough to convince me to at least look at this site and I was pleasantly surprised. Whilst this study of the armor does have significant hermeneutic (or interpreted) content it also digs quite deeply and meaningfully into the actual text of the whole armor of God. It also analyzes the words used for the emotions very well and gives a 'Christian psychological' angle upon the interpretation of this passage which is a nice foil to the history / sola scriptura approach of the 'tgm' site (below).
What learned: I particularly investigated the analysis of the belt to allow me to contrast with the other 'whole armor' site I am recommending. Interestingly it is actually this site that takes the more 'biblical' approach and rather than assuming that Roman armor was in view it goes back and looks that the past occasions that the 'belt' of a soldier was mentioned in scripture (particularly Joab). One last point to note: whilst this site does provide photographs they are of a completely different period to the ones the Bible could be referring too.
Would recommend: I was very pleasantly surprised by the depth of Biblical information on this site. It is not strictly technical as the information on the armor is shallow at a historical level and at best semi technical in terms of the biblical interpretation. That said the comments are very carefully thought out and well presented complete with cross reference justifications. I would certainly recommend this site for anyone about to preach upon this subject, anyone that wants to understand the subject or for anyone studying the subject that wants to get a good feel for at least one possible interpretation. The web-site it comes from is certainly well intentioned and is presented very tastefully. It would however, hopefully, not be of much use to someone studying Ephesians in depth.
Why Selected: This pdf contains what is essentially a detailed 90 page semi-technical commentary upon Ephesians by Dr Constable. The commentary has been updated very recently and contains a wealth of detailed footnotes.
What learned: This is essentially a commentary and thus is very difficult to summarize. He takes a conservative approach to the books authorship arriving at the conclusion that Paul wrote the letter. He also has a very plausible answer to the question as to the purpose of the letter. He notes that a huge amount of the text describes the mystery of the church and deals with the issue of love. Therefore he notes that the purpose of the letter could indeed have been simply to reveal that truth.
Would recommend: Whilst I didn't read all of this paper I read a quite a bit of it and it appears to be extremely good and thus I am happy to recommend it. The author is from Dallas Theological Seminary so one would expect the work to be of high quality and sound and as far as I can tell this is the case. Whilst not relevant to this course he actually has similar commentaries on the other books of the Bible too.
Why Selected: I came upon this site as I was doing research for my term paper. It is a good concise but detailed overview of the 'Whole Armor of God'. It actually has photographs as well as drawings of some of the pieces. It goes into each piece in some depth as well as giving a more expositional narrative alongside.
What learned: I enjoyed the narrative on this passage which contained numerous cross references; however it was the more detailed overview of the precise armor that I found particularly useful. The author also makes the comment that Paul was probably under arrest which soldiers in his house as this was written. If this is the case then Paul may well have been looking straight at the very items he was describing. The 'belt' for example is a very detailed and intricate piece of equipment that actually acted as the harness for the entire assemblage as was not simply to 'keep the tummy tucked in'.
Would recommend: I would recommend this particular page whole heartedly; it covers the subject well and must at least count as semi-technical. The website from which it comes however is rather less appealing. In fact the intro at the top of this page that attempts to support the 'need' for this information with a 'near death' story is indicative of the tenor of the rest of the site. This particular page is also tastefully laid out in a low key manner. The remainder of the site is a mish-mash of large moving icons, pleas for financing and a color scheme that my youngest son would approve of.