We are now past day 300 so I hope you are enjoying these last verses. The best thing about reading the Bible is getting to read the Bible and know more about your faith. One of the other great things is being able to have a discipline that keeps you grounded. If the reading has worked well for you please continue (maybe not as aggressively) but making time in your life for Scripture and then other works that help explain and expound on God's message.
Monday: Salvation History
Tuesday: Historical Criticism
Wednesday: Reader Response
Thursday: Law and Gospel
Friday: Textual Criticism
Saturday: Sabbath—just read and pray
Dec16SatDecember 16, 2017
Greetings, since we have been at this a month and a half, I thought I would change how I have been commenting. Up until now I have sort of been doing whatever I wanted each day. However now I would like a more systematic approach, because there are many ways to study the scriptures—and all can be helpful. So I would like to model some of the ways you can read the Bible each week. My idea is to have a different type of Bible study technique used each day, you than both know what to expect and what can think about these types of Bible study techniques even when I am not using it on that day.
Monday—Salvation History—while the Bible the inspired word of God it is also put together as a narrative. One of the ways it is so effect is because it is the “greatest Story ever told.” Many times the ways in which stories are put into or ordered into the narrative make a great difference to the story. So where does this story fit into the greater narrative of how God is saving Humanity. On Mondays we will hear where these texts fit in the great story of God’s salvation.
Tuesday—Historical Criticism—Have you ever read something in scripture that seemed like it was a tradition you just didn’t know about? One of my favorite examples is in Ruth 4, “So when the next-of-kin said to Boaz, “Acquire it for yourself,” he took off his sandal.” Now if you just read that you would say, “Why in the world does the next-of-kin take of his sandal? Does he have feet issues?” In this case the author tells you exactly what is going on. (Note this also tells you he is writing for people not of the same cultural time and place as the Ruth story because otherwise he would not have to explain.) However he does give us the reference point to this tradition. “ 7 Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel. 8 So when the next of kin said to Bo'az, "Buy it for yourself," he drew off his sandal.” Often times as we read through scripture the author assumes we knows things and does not describe the events as the author of Ruth does. So on Tuesdays we will learn something new about the history and time of the text which will help us understand.
Wednesday—Reader response—One of the great things about scripture is it is an encounter with God. Reading the Bible is different than reading Plato or Shakespeare because the those authors are dead and gone. When I say, “What Shakespeare meant was …” I get away with it because he is gone and I am still here. However God is the God of yesterday, today and tomorrow, so when we read scripture we actually have an experience with the creator of the universe. So on Wednesdays I will talk about how the word of God intersects with my life. I will respond to the text and how it makes me feel.
Thursday—Law and Gospel—This is a uniquely Lutheran way of understanding Scripture, Luther believed that the Bible was made up of two important movements, the Law and the Gospel. The Law condemns us and makes us despair of our own ability to be good enough or to save ourselves. The Law is that which speaks the truth about the sinfulness of the world and the brokenness in us. The Law works to condemn us. Once we have been convicted by the Law we are then given in the scriptures the Gospel. The Gospel is the part that frees us because God has done it for us. The Gospel is that part that lets us know of God’s great love and work on our behalf. These two parts of the Bible let us hear God’s plan for us and our lives.
Friday—Textual Criticism—We do not have any original copies of the Bible, everything that we have are copies of copies of copies. Remember much of the Old Testament was printed on animal skin, and the New Testament was being persecuted—so very little was able to be saved. However people preserved it by copying it again and again so it could be shared with the entire church thoughout the world and all of time. Now please do not despair because the message of Christ has been well preserved in all of these texts, but other words have been changed. In textual criticism we ask the question, “What is the original words of the text?” How might this change our understanding. While most of us cannot do this without many years of Hebrew and ancient manuscripts it helps us to read and think about what the experts have discovered and then read some of our own. Some weeks we will also talk about translation issues on Fridays.
Saturday—As the Sabbath we will not interpret at all, we will just read and be with the words. This would be a great day for you to make comments yourself.
Sunday—Questions, one way of reading scripture is just writing your questions about it down and then praying about them. That is what we will do today. Feel free to add your questions any day, but especially this day. I am not great at constantly looking at all the comments and questions but I will do my best to review all of them every Monday.
So that will be our week of Bible study each week until God moved me to change it or I get so overwhelmed I cannot keep it up. God bless and happy reading.
We are reading through the Bible in order to celebrate the anniversary of the reformation, we would invite you to join us where ever we are, or you could just start reading daily. Remember Luther wanted to get Scripture into the hand of everyone so they would grow to know God better. Join us!