Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lectio divina vs. gramatico historica: the scripture parallax

A similar thing happened to me in seminary. It made me stop reading my bible. When I’m in a worship service, I only listen to scripture. I never read it in my own Bible. Now it has happened again to my wife.

She has been reading scripture as a catalyst for prayer and devotion, moving between word and prayer, the Book and her Life. But recently she became a ministerial study program that is teaching her the RIGHT way to read scripture: hermeneutics, exegesis, historical method, etc. We were talking yesterday and she told me that once she started LEARNING how to read the Bible that it no longer functioned as a base for prayer, but instead has died in her hand. The Spirit had left the Word. That is exactly what she said!

Why is it that when someone learns the historical-grammatical method that the Bible becomes less a means of devotion and more a task to be mastered?

There is a subtle lure about learning how to properly read the Bible. It is the ever-present shift from communing with God to learning about God; from listening/talking with God to overhearing someone else’s conversation; from conversation to monologue.

This is the parallax of Scripture: at one moment it is the means of communion with God, listening to the Spirit’s whispers, integrating life and text, present and past (and future); while in another moment it is document to researched and argued over, to be investigated and analyzed. The same object can lead us on the paths of God, even while it functions only as a map; in it sings the songs of salvation even while it only notes the score; it overflows with the Spirit even as it dries up as a dead Letter.

The paradox of Scripture: Divine Prayer is always in need of guidance; Exegesis is always in need of Life. The danger is there, but it can’t be resolved. Prayer and Theology must walk with one another.

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