I recently saw a publishers list of forthcoming books, most of which were academically oriented but at the same time, user-friendly type material. I couldn’t help but notice yet more books on “how to read the Bible”. Now anyone who knows me, knows my passion for this area. As one who spent many years reading Scripture in a fragmented way with the tendency to impose presuppositions on to the text. This is because the teaching I was exposed to informed the method by which I was reading Scripture and interpreting accordingly.
Over the past several years, my studies have reverted to understanding Scripture more holistically, historical and cultural background, how language is being used, who the author’s were and what were they addressing, how the events of each book relate to the overall grand narrative of what God is accomplishing in redemptive history. But most importantly how Christ is at the center of it all. This has cut down on the tendency to take passages out of context and impose prescriptions where they really don’t exist in the narrative.
So I get that we need the “how to” books that break down good reading methods. A good study bible will have articles in it for this very purpose (I recommend the ESV Study Bible). Also, there’s Gordon Fee’s How to Read the Bible for All its Worth.
But I don’t think this goes quite far enough. I could be wrong, but the problem does not seem to be that Christians don’t read the Bible, though that has been on the decline. Even the ones who do are already reading with certain presuppositions. The rise in Biblical Studies have given the impression that we can read Scripture with a neutral lens but that’s a problem. I love what Derek Rishmawy says about that here. And as I wrote about here, no one comes to the text neutral. No matter how objective we think we are being, there are presuppositions that are being imposed on the text. Continue reading