From the Senior Pastor
Being Well-Read

I’ve been doing more reading lately than what is typical for me. The stack of books that I want to read keeps getting taller, so I made a goal this winter to plow my way through as many as I can before my interest is pulled outdoors again and the time I have available to read is diminished.

Of course, there are many things to read and many reasons to read, but for followers of Jesus, the discipline of reading the Bible is something most of us probably feel like we could improve upon. It doesn’t exactly read like a novel and many of us have never really been taught how to read the Bible. Because Epiphany is all about reflecting on what it means to be a follower of Jesus and the approaching season of Lent provides us with a great opportunity to further develop a faith discipline, I am reprinting (with permission) the following article by one of my favorite seminary professors, Dr. Mark Throntveit. I hope you find it as helpful as I did.

Epiphany blessings to you all,

RG Sig 2 - firstname

 

 

Pr. Randy Gehring

The Best Way to Read the Bible?
Mark Throntveit
(enterthebible.org)
Let’s get one thing straight. There is no best way to read the Bible. Any way you are reading the Bible is good. It’s better to be reading the Bible once a week, standing on one foot, and wearing an orange fright wig than not reading the Bible at all! That being said, there are many ways to do so.

One time-honored way is to buy a new Bible for Christmas and then on New Year’s Day to start reading Genesis 1 with the intention of plowing straight through to Revelation 22, usually within a yearlong timeframe. These good intentions normally come a cropper about three verses into the “begats” of Genesis 5. Should you make it through Genesis 5 there are always the six chapters of instructions regarding the Temple furnishings, followed by the five-chapter report of their execution in Exodus (Exodus 25–31, 35–39), or the nine chapters of genealogical lists with which 1 Chronicles begins, to squelch your resolve.

Other approaches fare little better. Those repulsed by the war and violence of the Old Testament will probably be repulsed by Jesus’ threats of casting those opposed to the Kingdom into the fiery furnace where there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:42) or his suggestion that we amputate hands and/or feet that cause us to sin (Mark 9:43, 45).

Some plans combine readings so that you read a chapter or two from Genesis along with a chapter or two from Matthew, and a Psalm. This widens the reader’s interest and experience at the cost of destroying any sense of narrative continuity in either Genesis or Matthew.

There are plans that will help you read the Bible chronologically in the order in which events took place or in the order in which the books were written. These can help us see the sweep of the biblical narrative, but it is strange to be reading Paul’s letters before the Gospels and the scholarly dating of the Bible’s individual parts is once again somewhat in flux.

To be blunt, the problem is not necessarily with the plan. Our resolutions to read the Bible are very much like our New Year resolutions to exercise, jog, or go to the gym. We start out fine but by the third or fourth week… Well, you know. Fifty-five years ago Maxwell Maltz claimed that it takes an average of 21 days to develop a new habit in the (appropriately self-published) self-help classic Psycho-Cybernetics (1960, Psycho-Cybernetics Foundation). These days, University College London psychologist Phillippa Lally, along with her colleagues, has shown it is more like 66 days and can be as long as 245 days for a behavior to become ingrained.¹

Obviously, what is needed is some way to keep yourself motivated until your Bible reading becomes “automatic” as Lally would say. I submit that the best way to do this is to enlist the help of others. On a large scale, many congregations have small groups who meet in homes or elsewhere to discuss Amos or Jonah or Galatians or whatever they have been reading during the month. Often there are group leaders who have been briefed by the pastors and discussion questions or background information provided to help guide participants and fuel interest, but it is the commitment of the group that has kept individuals motivated.

Finally, a few observations from a “seasoned” Bible reader’s experience:
1. Speed is not of the essence. It doesn’t matter if you finish in a year, or two, or 22. To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, “It’s the journey, not the destination.”
2. Read from a different translation every month. Children’s Bibles, graphic novels (“comic books,” in my generation), and paraphrases like the Living Bible or the Message count. Most English translations are available online at no cost. You may find one you love…or hate!
3. Stay with one book for a whole week/month/season. Become very familiar with one of the Gospels, or Paul’s letters, or Hosea by reading it a number of times.
4. Try to read the whole Gospel of Mark/Genesis/Acts in one sitting. The biblical books were never intended to be read in snippets the way we hear them read at worship. In fact, in classical Greek, one of the meanings of pericope—the technical term for the individual lectionary readings—is “mutilation.”²
5. Try reading out loud, or find a recording online at sites like biblegateway.com/resources/audio. Again, through most of its life the Bible was experienced through the ears rather than the eyes.
6. Consider Maya Angelou’s lovely statement: “I read the Bible to myself; I’ll take any translation, any edition, and read it aloud, just to hear the language, hear the rhythm, and remind myself how beautiful English is.”³
7. Finally, for those out there who have studied Greek or Hebrew, consider reading your Bible in the original language—just reading, no translating—maybe one verse a day, and see what happens…

Notes:
1. Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C. H. M., Potts, H. W. W. and Wardle, J. (2010), How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 40: 998–1009.
2. Liddell and Scott, Greek–English Lexicon, abridged [London: Oxford, 1966] 549).
3. Angelou, Maya, interviewed by George Plimpton for The Paris Review, The Art of Fiction no. 119.

Mark Throntveit is Elva B. Lovell Professor of Old Testament, at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Baptisms
December 31, 2016
Wesley George Husmann, the son of Jared and Kristen Husman.

Telecasts
January 15, 2017
Telecasts sponsored in honor of Deloris Harmon’s 90th birthday, by her family.

Flowers
January 8, 2017
Flowers given by Nancy Gustafson and family in honor of Conrad’s birthday on January 5.

Your Offering Makes a Difference
Your generosity is making a real difference in people’s lives through the mission and ministry of OSL. Thank you for your faithfulness in giving and your passionate commitment to God’s work through this congregation. Your continued generosity helps us reach our congregational goal of fully funding our ministry of connecting faith to everyday life.

Ministry Support through December 31, 2016
Pledged – $1,768,616
Received YTD – $1,813,009
Remaining – $0
Projected YTD – $1,803,616
Ahead/(Behind) – $9,393

Memorials and Honoraria
December2016

In Memory of Dale Dawson
Mary Nally

In Memory of Don Halligan
Lois Matson

In Memory of Agnes Knutson, Aunt of Ron Hybertson
Ron and Jan Hybertson

In Memory of Elizabeth Jorn
Tom and Olive Bakke

In Memory of Gary Kratochvil
Lois Matson

In Memory of Joyce Profilet
Verona Moen
Don and Coryill Weeg

In Memory of Lynn Thormodsgard
James and Sharon Adam
Judith Albright
Linda Baum
Mavis Carl
Roy and Lazann Caudill
Mike and Lori Hahn
Kelly Haugom
Jack and Gina Hopkins
Thomas and Ruth Kaspar
Loree Ness
Margaret Novak
Elmer Oyen
Regan and Linda Pearson
Stephen and Jane Sahly
Doug and Vicki Sieck
Peter and Carla Taylor
Lea Anne Thompson
Judith Winter

In Memory of Bill Vehle
Gayle Mulkey

In Honor of Almira Pederson (Christmas Remembrance)
Don and Coryill Weeg

Be Notified When The Intercom Is Updated!


Sign Up for The Intercom