Reading and Being Read

That is, reading Scripture, but also being read by Scripture.

Fr Stephen Freeman, an Orthodox priest who writes the Glory to God for All Things blog, beautifully expounds on the above. It fits well into the mystical reading of Scripture that several of us were recently writing about.

(By the way, “Glory to God for all things” was the last thing St John Chrysostom said before dying during his travelling into exile.)

Lost in the Stars

Before Lord God made the sea or the land
He held all the stars in the palm of his hand
And they ran through his fingers like grains of sand
And one little star fell alone

Then the Lord God hunted through the wide night air
For the little dark star in the wind down there
And he stated and promised he’d take special care
So it wouldn’t get lost no more

Now, a man don’t mind if the stars get dim
And the clouds blow over and darken him
So long as the Lord God’s watching over him
Keeping track how it all goes on

But I’ve been walking through the night and the day
Till my eyes get weary and my head turns gray
And sometimes it seems maybe God’s gone away
Forgetting his promise and the word he’d say

And we’re lost out here in the stars
Little stars big stars blowing through the night

And we’re lost out here in the stars
Little stars big stars blowing through the night

And we’re lost out here in the stars

Kurt Weill/Maxwell Anderson. An especially nice version of this song is sung by the inimitable Frank Sinatra.

The One Author

Once one acknowledges the divine author of all of Scripture and of each of its individual books, faith and theological thinking have to supplement more conventional historical, linguistic, and grammatical approaches toward understanding the words and meanings of the biblical text. Acknowledgement of God as the Bible’s primary author moves Catholic and other religiously motivated biblical scholars beyond the criteria and interpretive practices of their fellow biblical practitioners in academic guilds, meetings, and educational institutions, even in seminaries and schools of theology. Academic interpretation and exegesis tends to focus almost exclusively on individual human biblical authors and writings, or often even on stages within biblical writings.

That focus considers almost exclusively the diversity within the many books of Scripture and is unable to articulate what unity there might be among the numerous authors and writings in the Bible. Historical criticism routinely and a priori excludes consideration of God as biblical author. Doing so also prevents recognition of Scripture as God’s word and revelation. If Scripture is not regarded as the word and revelation of God, its primary author, ascertaining the Bible’s unity becomes almost impossible. Meaningful unity of Scripture can be recognized only if one believes that the Bible has one ultimate divine author revealing his word and message of salvation. Without reflection on the one divine author, it is hard to demonstrate any significant sense of biblical unity.

Fr William S. Kurz, SJ. Reading the Bible as God’s Own Story: A Catholic Approach for Bringing Scripture to Life. The Word Among Us Press, 2007. page 39.

Fr Kurz touches on a subject that I’ve covered in several posts on this blog, that of the failure of historical criticism and other modern exegetical frameworks alone to adequately comprehend the Bible. Without the recognition that God exists and has taken a hand in guiding history, including the writing of this Book of Books, one is neither going to gain nor appreciate the worldview that accomplished the prophetic authoring of its individual elements and the collection of these documents into the Bible, a collection that belies not just a recognition of mere compatibility, but indeed the recognition of a particular unity between these books which seem so disparate and even incompatible according to various modern misguided interpretive frameworks. This is not even remotely to be considerd a rejection of the realia of various fields like history, philology, textual criticism, archaeology, and other fields which contribute to our understanding of the Bible as the product of particular times and places. While not precisely objective in theory, such fields need not be in their conclusions subjective to the point of idiosyncrasy, as they often have been in the past. This is to emphasize the missing dimension, the recognition of the “God Who acts” as G. Ernest Wright put it so long ago. In this respect, I disagree with the order of influence discussed by Kurz, above, that “faith and theological thinking have to supplement more conventional historical, linguistic, and grammatical approaches.” It is rather the case that a solid theological and faithful understanding and reading should be supplemented by history, philology, textual criticism, archaeology, etc. Long before any of those fields existed, the faithful approach to Scripture, sharing its worldview, produced both saints and scholars in abundance. That’s more than enough reason to work toward initiating and implementing a new approach to the Bible which avoids the pitfalls present in both pre-critical and critical approaches to Scripture.