Periscoping Pericopes

Periscope AppLast spring Twitter came out with a new app called “Periscope.” If I believed in the fates, I’d suggest that this new application was built just for me.

I have begun Periscoping Pericopes on Monday afternoons. Every Monday afternoon—at least for the next four months—I’ll be Periscoping a Pericope.

Here’s what that’s about:

What’s a Pericope?

I’ve been teaching Biblical Studies professionally here and there for, gasp!, almost 35 years now. One of the things we “professional” Bible people talk about is pericopes. That’s fancy-talk for “Bible passage.” (This is how you know someone is a professional: They use fancy-talk for plain-old ordinary stuff.)

The word “pericope” literally means “cut” (cope) “around” (peri) — just like you cut around a newspaper article to clip it out of the paper. Each article has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Here’s how you pronounce the word pericope :


These small texts — pericopes — remind us of the way we tell anecdotes. If the anecdotes are oft-told, they get honed to a tight little story — a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Most of the biblical literature was “honed” in just this fashion. For most of the church’s life, folks were blissfully unaware that “The Good Samaritan” was found in the Gospel of Luke. They knew the story—the “pericope”—not the reference. It’s sort of how most of us learned our Bible: a preacher or a Sunday School teacher or a parent told us the “little story.”

Voilá! The oral tradition lives in the Church. Yes, it does.

But back to Pericopes.

Pericopes, not Periscopes!

Somewhere around 1995 or so, I began getting papers from students where they consistently mis-spelled the word pericope as periscope. This drove me nuts. Again, and again, and again.

305px-MOHAI_Periscope todo tiene su tiempo... This is another Periscope
This is a Periscope This is a Pericope This is another Periscope

“It’s NOT a periscope!” I would declare to my students, as I whirled around to the chalkboard and drew a periscope on the board and the wrote PERICOPE in huge letters. “It’s pericope!”

Check it out on Wikipedia! At the very beginning of the article on “Pericope”  Wikipedia has this to say:

 Not to be confused with Periscope.


I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me six or seven years to realize that my students were simply spell-checking their papers. It was Microsoft Word, not my students, who were confusing pericope with periscope.

Which is all to say, I couldn’t wait to start Periscoping a Pericope. It felt like a calling. 👏🏽

Periscope, the app

Periscope is an app created by Twitter that allows you to live broadcast, well, whatever you wish.

It’s available for both iOS and Android devices. Evidently you can also use the app on your computer (to view, not broadcast), but I haven’t experimented with that yet.

Once you’ve downloaded the App, sign up for an account with your Twitter id. (You can sign up with your phone, but the whole things works better if you sign up with your Twitter id.)

If you don’t have a Twitter account, sign up for one—either online at or download the Twitter app and sign up through the app. Then, come back to Periscope and sign in with your newly-created Twitter id.

Once you’re inside Periscope, you can search for folks to follow. My Twitter id is @virginiawiles. So you can just search for virginiawiles and I should pop up.

I’ve been experimenting with this for a couple of months. The students enjoy my Periscopes more than I do! I find it a little intimidating, to be honest. Camera shy, I am. But I’ve promised myself—and the students—that I’ll keep working on it and hope I get more comfortable with the medium.

On my Periscopes I simply talk about a short text, even shorter than a pericope, to be honest, for about 5-7 minutes. I don’t give answers, I raise questions.

That’s a blog post yet to be written:

“The Question Is the Lesson.” Coming soon . . .

My Periscopes

I’ve tried in vain to link directly to my most recent Periscope. Something, either in my system or, is fouling me up. Check me out at and you can see four or five of the Periscoping Pericopes series.

Sign up for Periscope yourself! If you follow me, I’ll follow you back.

Let’s play!