On Reading the Bible

I took a university class entitled, Reading the Bible as Literature. Our textbook was a Bible that had no chapter numbers or enumerated verses. Some of the books of the Bible had been edited to eliminate repetitious material. Overall, though, the point was to read and study the various books of the Bible just as if these were novels, short stories, or poetry found in an advanced English literature course. It was an English course, not a course in Religion. Our professor was Dr. Joseph King, a man who was well into his 70’s at the time. His enthusiasm and keen wit kept me fascinated with his insight into the styles, structures, and metaphors of this diverse book we honor as The Bible.

Dr. King cautioned the ministerial students in the class to be careful when handling the biblical material. He believed a sin of the “religious” was to just “study the words as a duty,” but never truly experience the stories as masterful art and beauty. None of the books of the Bible were originally written with chapter numbers or verses. These were added as aides to corporate worship and personal reference. All the letters of Paul were just that, letters. They were read out loud in their entirety before the congregations that received them. I tried that in church one Sunday. Some people were kind in their comments. 

Psalms and Proverbs are one kind of literature—wisdom, the Kings and the Chronicles another—history. The Gospels tell the stories of Jesus while Daniel and The Revelation tell of the last times. Jeremiah and Amos call God’s people to repent while Isaiah and Hosea demonstrate God’s faithfulness and mercy. Each of the books of the Bible can stand alone as expressions of God’s story and our story. Sin and sorrow, pain and death are hard taskmasters. Anger and revenge, pride and power destroy us from within. But redemption, repentance and love offer a tender path worth walking each day. 

There is a special power that comes with reading the Scriptures out loud and listening to it read by someone else. Faith comes by hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17 NIV)  

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Take pleasure in your Bible reading. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

Share this webpage: Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedin