Total Pageviews

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Reading the Bible

St. Athanasius, a bishop, teacher and hero of the faith in the early church (300's) provides a wonderful model for reading the Bible. In his book The Incarnation of the Word of God he states that the scriptures were written and inspired by God. In light of this there is more demanded of the reader than intellect. We quote the good bishop at length:

"But for the searching and right understanding of the Scriptures there is need of a good life and a pure soul, and for Christian virtue to guide the mind to grasp, as far as human nature can, the truth concerning the word of God.One cannot possibly understand the teaching of the saints unless one has a pure mind and is trying to imitate their life... Similarly, anyone who wishes to understand the mind of the sacred writers must first cleanse his own life and approach the saints by copying their deeds."

I think one reason why it is hard for most people to read and understand the Bible is because we are not truly holy. We see the Bible as accessible by effort of mind but neglect the pure heart needed to hear God. The spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, alms, and self denial are the foundation of Bible study. Too many, myself included, are busy with comfort and self-satisfaction to really encounter the word. Reading the scriptures is a total life enterprise. It takes a converted heart and mind. We need God's Holy Spirit to make that happen!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Fr. Jeff! I have about 100 pages left before I finish the Bible....for the first time :) I started last summer, with the NT first, and I am now about to start Daniel. I love it and love the way you just described reading it - prayerfully of course, but w/ the converted mind/heart and just being open to everything. And I'm very excited about starting over once I finish :)