Saturday, January 10, 2009

How To Read

One of the reasons for reading the New Testament slowly in 2009 is to read it with fresh eyes, to read it thoughtfully, to take time time to reflect on what God is saying in the text. The simplest way to read with freshness is to ask questions as you read. Questions reading the Bible fall in three categories:
  • Observation: What is there? For instance, I notice Matthew starts with a genealogy. Are there any important people in it? Who does he start with? What patterns are there in the genealogy? What are the breaks in the pattern? Observation is the key to getting the most out of your reading. The better the your observation, the more enjoyment you will have in your reading. Just like driving to work, reading the New Testament can grow so familiar you don't notice things any more. Slow down. Pay Attention. Observe what is there.
  • Interpretation: What do those things I observed mean? It is very important to consider what they mean before I consider what they mean to me! Many interpretation questions begin with "Why?" For instance, Why would Matthew start the entire New Testament with a genealogy? Why is it structured in sections of 14s? Why does he mention women in it? What is the significance of the introduction to the genealogy?
  • Application: What does this mean to me? Once you notice things, you can find out what they mean and then, and only then, you can ask questions about what they mean to you. For instance, if the genealogy has something to do with establishing Jesus' right to the throne of Israel. Application questions might go like this, In what ways does Jesus exercise his kingly right in my life? How should he be king, where he isn't yet? Or, I might apply this another way. If some of the characters in the genealogy were unsavory, yet were shown sufficient grace to have been redeemed into the family line of Jesus, can I expect my unsavoriness to be redeemed, too?
I don't have high expectations for this blog post. I only hope it will slow you down as you read. If you'll slow down and ask questions, you'll enjoy it so much more. . . We start in earnest on Monday!

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