There's More Than One Way to Read A Bible

Posted November 7, 2014 @ 1:54pm | by Tripp

It's really rather simple despite all the eventual complexities that emerge. The Bible is a bound collection of texts, a book of books if you will, and there is more than one way to read it. Let me explain.

We can dive into the middle of it, say, by reading that first collection of liturgical "greatest hits," The Psalms. Or maybe you are the kind of reader who likes to know the ending before they begin. So, you start with Revelation. Of course, now you are really confused and in turning to the beginning (Genesis) you wonder what the hell it is you have gotten yourself into because Genesis is no comfort at all. Strangeness abounds as well as fratricide.

Maybe you open the Bible looking for your favorite verse. There's that way of reading it, too. There's this devotional thing going on for some people that's potent. People find answers and comfort in the face of some of life's greatest challenges.

Some people read the Bible to find rules. Lots of rules. Governmental kinds of rules. And sitting there next to Hammurabi's Law Code in the great histoy of Legal Stuff is Leviticus. Have at it, counselor.

Maybe you are a historan, a linguistic historian and you want to know if there really are Sumerian roots to some of the Psalms. So, pulling out your various ancient texts and your favorite English translations, you sit down and get to work. Linear A, Linear B, how is your Ugaritic? Let's find out!

Or, maybe, like me you first open the book because you hear tell of some powerful stores and a powerful story lights you up like no other thing. So you read about Eve and Adam or Sarah and Abraham. Or, even more fun, you start reading the various tales about the notorious King David and his warlike fascination with his neighbor's wife. Good grief, but there are some stories. And if all that's not enough, John of Patomos has a vision of a new heaven and a new earth that puts anything that Marvel Productions has imagined to shame. You can keep "Ultron." Give me The Lamb That Was Slain. That's serious heavy lifting. Dude has a sword for a tongue and fights dragons and stuff. Insane!

There are lots of ways to read the Bible and the new book Disquiet Time edited by Cathleen Falsani and Jennifer Grant is a great collection of primers for how you might want to take a crack at reading it. Candid, creative, and quirky, this collection has much to offer. I have an essay in it about feet and angelic netherbits. Again, more good stories abound than I can share with you here. But if you like a good story and are looking for a collection of stories about a collection of stories, Disquiet Time is the book for you.

Buy it online at Barnes and Noble or Amazon or pick it up at your local book monger. And, if you are in the Bay Area, stop by American Baptist Semiary of The West Saturday, November 8 at 7:00pm for a conversation with Jennifer, Cathleen, myself and some amazing readers of the Bible.

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