Recently I have been thinking about the way in which I read the Bible. Firstly I see the Bible as a book shelf, not as a single volume but as a collection of works drawn together to show the relationship between God and humanity and the response of humanity to God. Within this I do see that the Bible is inspired by God – but I don’t think that God sat there and dictated it word for word. I am aware that the Bible is made up of letter; history; legal books; advice and proverbs; poetry; prophetic writings; political challenges; humour; and the Gospels – the accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus.
However I have found that there are five general ways in general that I read the Bible, in no particular order:
- Pastoral reading – this is the reading that I do to prepare sermons, this is for me reading the Bible to hear most of all what it has to say in the situation in which I am to preach, as well as the general message to the current age.
- Academic reading – this is the reading to come to know the background of the text, the delving into the history of it, and what at times the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic meant or could have meant
- Devotional reading – this for me is my reading of the Bible in daily prayer; often to a set pattern and trying to keep the discipline of reading the sections set.
- Getting to know reading – this is for me reading to come to know the Bible better; it links to me devotional reading, but at times will move away from it. This is an attempted to come to know the body of Bible better.
- Personal reading – this is the reading that I do my self, when I open the Bible and simply mediate upon the word with no other purpose but to dwell upon it and listen to it.
So why think about the way in which I read the Bible, in part this is the question of how to approach the text before me. Some of the tools used will cross over and not be individual to one way of reading. However the way of looking at the text will change, what am I trying to get from – if anything – the text.