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;

Zealously.


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.

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