When we read a Bible text, do we really read it? Do we really read it? Two important and slightly distinguished questions…
1. Do we really read it? Everyone assumes that we read it if we run our eyes over it and notice what is there. The reality is that most of the time we don’t really look carefully at the text and notice what is there. We miss biblical quotations and allusions, we miss details in the text, we miss the flow of the text, we miss the mood of the text, etc. As Gordon writes in his book, we are not in a culture that trains us to be close readers of quality texts anymore.
2. Do we really read it? That is, we have a tendency to not only not read very well, but to excuse poor reading of this text because of a wider understanding of the whole Bible. Of course we should read every passage in its context in the Bible. We must have a Bible wide theology, and a Bible defined theology. Yet it is so easy to impose a theological position on a text so that the text itself is not heard. I observed this recently when one line in a Psalm triggered a theological thought for one person, so that he argued against the surrounding text in order to underline his own theological position. He would say he was being biblical, but his theological position was overriding his reading of this particular text.
This post is cast in a negative tone, but the goal is positive. Let us be careful readers, and careful readers of each text. Surely that will help us be better preachers.