How to read the Bible

There is a section in one of my church Bibles called, “How to read the Bible.” My curiosity says I ought to check it out; my concern wonders if it isn’t a bit late for that by this point in my Bible-reading career. If I get around to it, and find out something astonishing, I’ll share it here. In the meantime, here’s a brief, light-hearted, but heartfelt guide that I published this morning at the Episcopal Cafe:

How to read the Bible:

Alone in the dead of night, with only the owls for company;

Bravely, when the text takes a terrifying turn;

Curiously, open to giants, sea monsters, miracles, and talking snakes;

Daily, as a discipline and a delight;

Eagerly, panting as the hart for living water;

Fearfully, and with trembling, since such is the beginning of wisdom;

Gregariously, as they began, reading the scriptures in faithful company;

Halfway, allowing yourself to be arrested by a verse or a word before the reading is done;

Intently, seeking the marrow of the meaning;

Joyfully, in the knowledge that God’s love is disguised in its ink;

Knowledgeably, seeking out the wisdom of the ages and contemporary scholarship;

Loudly, proclaiming good news before the assembled company of worshippers;

Moderately, with a good but not a gluttonous appetite;

Now, and then, and tomorrow;

Openly, without prejudice and with an ear to the Holy Spirit;

Prayerfully, before, and after, and always;

Quietly, with a calm spirit, or one at least that seeks the still, small voice beyond the storm;

Rowdily, when the occasion calls for it;

Stealthily, at other times;

Truthfully, allowing the text to interrogate you and answering honestly;

Usually, creating a habit of devotional reading that endures;

Valiantly, doing battle with the distractions of the world and the devil to keep your word to the word;

Wistfully, with a heart for heaven on earth;

Xylophagously, (metaphorically) devouring and inwardly digesting the scriptures;

Yawning, falling asleep mid-sentence that revelation may haunt your dreams;


Photo: The Creation: The First Eight Chapters of Genesis. Woodcuts by Frans Masereel. On display at the Library of Congress, from its Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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