How do you read the Bible? Speed reading? Analytical reading? Or “Illuminated reading”?

Person reading the Bible

How do you read different books – various types of literature?

Sometimes I read superficially – a scan read, or what some might call a “speed read.”  My eyes fly over the words, I catch “the drift” but don’t get to caught up in the details.  That is how I read for enjoyment and relaxation – it’s how I read a novel.

At other times (now keep in mind this is an ol’ prof talking) I read analytically.  I look closely at the words, examine the phraseology, and seek to determine how the writer makes his or her point.  That is usually how I read a textbook or technical information.

But this morning, during “coffee with the Lord,” I found myself reflecting on how I read the Bible! … And I have to admit I read the Bible differently.  I rarely “speed read” the Bible!  But I find the Bible a very enjoyable and satisfying to read – I would call my reading of Scripture a “nourishing read” – an “uplifting read.”  On the other hand, anyone who knows me (especially my former and present students) are aware that I practice and advocate “analytical reading” of the Bible.  I take the message of Scripture very seriously and read to determine just exactly what the Biblical writer was saying and how he said it.  In fact, every passage of Scripture I preach or teach from I actually diagram.  And even when I’m having “coffee with the Lord” in the morning I “slow down and reflect deeply” on the message of Scripture as I read – So I guess you could call it a “devotional-analytical read.”  Deeply satisfying – deeply enjoyable – but mind and heart fully engaged.

But Scripture is more than simply “a novel” (although it is filled with engaging stories and narrative).  And it is more than simply technical information (although there are doctrinal passages that throughout history have challenged the greatest minds).

The Bible is MORE that that… It is “inspired” literature (and not simply inspired by merely the general definition of the word) – it is “God-inspired!”  In fact, the Greek word used in II Timothy 3:16-17 that is translated “inspired” in many versions of the Bible is actually a compound word and literally means “God-breathed” – in other words it comes from God!  As a result, there is a dimension of reading – a way of reading – that I utilize when I read the Bible that is beyond the way I read other books!  I call it “illuminated reading!”  When I read the Bible I ask the Holy Spirit to make the truth of Scripture real to me – to open my mind and heart to what God (and the inspired human writer) intended to communicate.  In fact, I make that a prayer!  I guess what I read again this morning during “coffee with the Lord” says it best…

“Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things out of your law!  I am a sojourner on earth; hide not your commandments from me! … Your testimonies are my delight – they are my counselors!” (From Psalm 119:17-24)

Oh, just reporting – I had a wonderful, refreshing, uplifting time of reading the Bible this morning!  The Holy Spirit was there to make the truth of Scripture real to my heart!  Let me recommend “illuminated reading” to you!

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