These last nine posts have attempted to draw us into the Bible from a different perspective. I have not and do not deny Divine Authorship. I call it "The Word of the Lord" and "The Word of God," and why wouldn't I; the church has always held that it is so. That is 'the faith' of those who trust in Jesus. However, I have provided reasons for looking at Scripture as fully human as well as fully Divine. If it is God's Word, it is still human words. The ultimate Source is mediated through human authors, conveyed in human thoughts, and written in human language. Having intensely immersed myself in these words for almost forty years I have found them to be amazingly godly and frustratingly human many times. The words cannot simply be read from a contemporary, simplistic, literal stand point. The truth is, much of what is written there is symbolic, most of it has layers of depth, and while all of it can be applied to our current situation, none of it is contemporary: It is ancient. Ancient words, from a middle eastern world or Grecco-Roman, which does not share the same beliefs, values, and mindset as our own...
It is that self-centeredness, that arrogant belief that OUR way is the only way to look at the world, which makes Bible reading dangerous. We ignore or twist passages which are concerned about things about which we do not care.We assume what is "the plain meaning" to us is actually what the authors (and Author) intended. And as I have seen in myself and others a million times, we often cannot read the actual text because we already think we know what it says and what it means.Our minds made up, we just plow through grabbing the ideas which fit our preconceived beliefs.
So is this a recipe for despair? It may sound like it, but actually I find it an invitation to love. Real love conquers romantic love by actually engaging the other person. It corrects the false "projections" by real encounter.All of us project what we want (or need, or fear, or etc) upon others. No way to avoid it. But we can make progress to learning the truth.
I think the New Testament is over-read by Christians. It is taken out of context, which is the Jewish Bible. Study the Jewish Scripture first--remember this is the Bible Jesus used to explain Himself to the apostles. I suggest read some psalms every day. Every day. And read from the other books. Perhaps start with Genesis and Isaiah. Each day read a chapter of each. For the more ambitious read several chapters. After becoming familiar with The Book, then you are ready to read some on the ancient world. Who were the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians? What was Israel doing and when was it doing it? There are commentaries which have articles about such things.Read them. Now when you return to the Bible you are prepared to read it and understand. You can read a book with a good commentary and gain insight into what was going on. I assure you, no matter how deep you dig, there is always more treasure to be mined!
Sounds like work, doesn't it? As a kid I spent hours doing baseball statistics and reading articles about players. I loved baseball so it was a labor of love. I enjoyed it... I daresay, if we love God, then the enterprise of trying to hear Him speak in Scripture (instead of twisting His word to fit our context) will not be too difficult. We will encounter His true word. His authoritative communication. His dependable revelation. His life giving gift of Himself. So start reading, today!