There has been much talk in the blogging world in the past days about the use of the Bible in Christian debate, John over on his blog in particular has a very refreshing post. If only the Church could get its head around recognizing the Bible as a body not an artifact. This has all been happening as I myself have been relishing Ben Quash’s book, Abiding who also explores this idea.
… the rabbinic injunction to ‘turn, and turn it again’ (referring to the Torah), lectio divina involves reading and re-reading a single passage of the Bible in the expectation that new levels of meaning will open up each time. The text will be internalized – ingested and digested in a way that is often compared explicitly with eucharistic participation. In a way that closely parallels the sacrament, this way of relating to Scripture unites the believer to God, and Scripture (like the sacrament) is seen by the practitioners of lectio divina as given by God for just this purpose.
Seeing the Bible as food for the body, sustenance for the journey, something which we abide and abides in us, challenging and helping us grow in our faith is, in my view far healthier. If the Bible is of the Spirit it can not turn from being life-giving to stunting growth.
Quash and John also both talk of sharing the text. John in sharing in it with ‘… a consciousness of how the text has been read by our spiritual forebears.’ Quash expands this to what he refers to as ‘Strange Others’, Christians from earlier times and also those from outwith the Christian tradition. Reading in such a way requires humility and courage for we might be confronted with our own, what Quash refers to as ‘asset-stripping’, of the Bible.
The third way Quash suggests we should contemplate the Bible is in relation to art, John regularly does this on his blog. In not just seeing it but looking. Seeing, Quash suggests, extracts key information as rapidly as possible, while looking means we dwell much more consciously and deliberately. Surely the Bible deserves to be treated in the former rather than the later way.
Ben Quash’s book ‘Abiding’ was this years Archbishop of Canterbury Lent Book, which I feel is a bit of a shame. I say that because I think it might mean the book has ended up in the wrong bookshelves and might languish there. It is a book I for one will return to again and again and a book I will be recommending to both you dear reader, and to others.