Posted by: Dan | August 16, 2005

Free to Read the Story I Love

For the least few years I've struggled a lot with the whole notion of bible reading. As I've learned more and more about the bible as a collection of historical (and deceptively esoteric) documents I've felt increasingly incapacitated when it came to engaging in the simple practice of daily reading. I felt like I couldn't pick up the bible without also picking up a whole slough of commentaries. There is so much present in the texts that I felt unable to read it casually. Of course I felt that I was somehow missing the point, but I couldn't really figure out why. And so, over the last few years, I have spent far more time reading books about the bible than I have spent reading the bible itself.

Just last week I finally realised how I was missing the point.

I had recently read Lindbeck's Nature of Doctrine and was continually reading authors who approached the bible as story. But I continued to miss the point until I picked up Stephen Dempter's Dominion and Dynasty: a Theolgy of the Hebrew Bible. Dempster repeatedly asserts that the key to understanding is found in reading, rereading, and rereading the texts — and then all the pieces fell into place for me. Learning a language requires immersion and so does entering into a story. I realised that daily reading is something like a daily baptism by the texts. Suddenly I find myself free to simply read and enjoy the story I love so much. I don't always need to bring all my exegetical, historical, theological, and literary tools with me — I can put all those down and simply enjoy the pleasure of being immersed.

Now it just makes sense to engage in regular reading — what doesn't make sense is neglecting the very texts that are so formative to the people of God.


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