Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Good Book

Another confession. I don’t open the Bible as often as I used to. That is, I don’t take it off the shelf and open it. I read it on my computer. I have a Bible program installed which I have configured to open 5 versions at once, three in English, two in Spanish. I also have three sets of study notes open under it. It’s a convenient way to study, plus I can easily copy and paste passages that I need to use (I do a 20-minute radio program five days a week and often need to copy fairly long sections of scripture).

This wouldn’t be so bad, except that I do encounter times of guilt. Guilt that my bound Bibles aren’t getting “well-worn” like they used to. Guilt about the dust build-up on the pages (I know… dust can be removed with a cloth). And it can be really embarrassing when I do what I’ve done several times lately — gone somewhere to preach and realized that I didn’t bring a Bible!

The Good Book. I’ve grown up surrounded by the idea that a black bound book is the proper presentation for the Word of God. Funny thing is, how long has anything like that been around? A few centuries at best. Paul would not have thought of the Bible as a book. So much of it would have been in separate scrolls. That could even be what Paul was talking about when he asked Timothy to bring him his scrolls and parchments (if so, we now have scriptural precedent for forgetting your Bible).

Besides interesting trivia, I think it might say something about the way God’s Word is to be taken in, the way it is to be heard, the way it was communicated. If you don’t have 66 books bound into one, if much of your “Bible study” must be done from memory, if you can’t flip back and forth and compare one passage with another, you study differently. You read differently.

A question to my co-chefs in this kitchen of half-baked thoughts: What implications does this fact have for Bible study? Our Bible study. If we were to study as Christians would have in the first few centuries, what would we do?

1 comment:

Matt said...

We would do a lot more reading out loud. That was 100% (as best we can tell) of how things were read at that time. Reading was a community event.