Sunday, September 1, 2013

Understanding the Bible More Deeply: Additive Reading

One key area where education practitioners test students to indicate development in verbal skills is reading comprehension and retention. If everyone were the same, they wouldn’t need to test students to see what their current abilities are. The fact is that none of us have perfect comprehension and retention. When we read something for the first time, we don’t fully apprehend its meaning. I have email replies from people asking questions that I answered in my original email. I know for a fact that they didn’t get it.

The Bible is no small tome. Its material is typically referentially anachronistic from our point of view. That is to say that it wasn’t written by or to people with our cultural sensibilities. It can be difficult reading and it can be easily misunderstood if care is not taken to understand what is written in the various contexts.

It is common for pastors who have been well trained and have already read the Bible through many times to read a passage over and over before they develop a sermon on it. If pastors have a need to do this, how much more do the rest of us need to read passages multiple times in order to understand the full import of the meaning?

The reason is because there is a principle where reading some over again allows us to notice things that we missed or don’t remember the first time. Unless we re-read the Bible many times we cannot claim to have much of an understanding of it. Some people may require fewer readings to understand it deeply. Others may need to read the Bible more in order to understand it more deeply. Regardless whether your comprehension and retention is better or worse than others, we all need to read the Bible over and over again to understand it more deeply.

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