Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How to read the bible: is there a right way?

I think that there definitely are helpful and unhelpful ways of reading the bible.

I recently read a little book called Dig Deeper: tools to unearth the bible's treasure. It is authored by two British writers: Nigel Beynon and Andrew Sach. It has heaps of good advice, and would indeed give a person tools for a greater understanding of the bible, but ... there's something missing.

Graeme Goldsworthy's Gospel-Centred Hermeneutics is a much larger book and harder to read. [I'd like to see the word "ontology" and its relations cast into outer darkness, and I assure you there'd be no weeping and gnashing of teeth here in my home in Bathurst.]

But Goldsworthy includes the element that I thought was missing from Dig Deeper. I'm thoroughly enjoying reading a few pages each day.

What Beynon and Sach fail to say and Goldsworthy says over and over is that the bible is about Jesus Christ and his saving life, death, resurrection and ascension for us. [Some people are not sure about the life, though.]

I think it is reasonable for people who have read the whole bible to point out to those who are beginning to read it that they must realise that the whole book is written to tell us about God and who he is and what he requires of us and what he has done for us and that this is mediated to us through Jesus Christ.

When we read the bible there are a lot of helpful tools to use, but the most essential of all is to read it in relation to its central message about Jesus. Miss that, and you've missed the boat.

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