I started reading an article in my English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible as part of the readings for my next Institute of Biblical Studies (IBS) classes. The article is about reading the Bible (seems pretty simple right?). Here's what I have gotten so far:
There are various ways to read the Bible - theologically, as literature, in prayer and communion with God, for personal application, and for preaching and public worship.
First things first, a few foundations must be laid. The Bible is the Church's instruction book. It is canonical, meaning it is the standard, literally the "measuring rod". It is God's instruction and standard for faith and life. Crucial to classification as canonical is the Bible's inspiration and unity. The Bible is God's self-revelation to humans, by means of divinely illuminated humans writing in their own words so that we may understand. However diverse in form and style the writing, the Bible is unified in content and themes. The entirety of scripture tells one story, that of Creator God redeeming his creation and chosen ones through Jesus Christ.
Finally, theological reading. Theological reading of the Bible is a quest for God. Theological reading must always be done prayerfully. It is a prayerful search for God, in light of three guiding principles. First, revelation of God throughout the Bible was progressive - from dreams and visions in humans to the Lord himself revealing himself through the incarnate Jesus - partial to full/complete. Second, one must keep in mind the difference of everyday words when used in relation to God (reading "analogically", similar in meaning to reading metaphorically). Third is to keep in mind the Triunity of God - three "persons" yet one divine Being.
Secondly, theological reading is a quest for godliness. "The goal of theological Bible reading is...to know God personally in a relationship that honors him." So, three questions guide readers. 1) "What is shown about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?" 2) What is shown about the world with its beneficial aspects along with its corrupted aspects? and 3) "What is shown to guide one's living, today and every day?"
My Thoughts and Opinions
(I think I was so caught up in "regurgitating" that I did not really analyze what I learned/remembered, if anything.) There is a lot there that is completely up to the interpretation of the article's writer(s). Some things I have heard before, multiple times actually. I have learned a little bit already about the canonicity of the Bible. Though is not the purpose of this article, there could be more that could be mentioned. Progressive revelation and "analogical" language were new ideas to me. They are good things to point out and to consider. I prefer the questions at the end, probably because I always prefer more practical concepts - and questions are very practical. These are great questions to ask yourself when you are reading any part of scripture. It forces you to look at the context and background of the scripture, which most likely is time consuming, but they will lead to a more accurate interpretation of God's Word and thus a more accurate revelation of God - which is the whole point of it all anyway - God.
From where did the term "analogical" come?
"Reading the Bible." (2008) English Standard Version Study Bible. (pp. 2567-2568) Wheaton, Ill: Good New Publishers.