On Reading the Bible

As I mentioned in my last posting, this past year I’ve been reading the Bible. The book I used divided the Bible into daily readings including a piece from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, a reading from Psalms, and a brief piece from Proverbs. This is the only way I could get through it. I’d tried previously reading the Bible straight through and would usually give up somewhere in Deuteronomy or Numbers. I have to say also that I didn’t read it specifically as the Word of God. Nor did I read it with some eye to tearing it down. I probably read it with Rabbi Heschel’s observation in mind that the book is more about Man and Woman’s search for God. In any case, here are a few random observations:

1. Reading the Bible gave me a strong sense that, as a Christian, I have strong Jewish roots. We share the same history. It is easy to judge the Jews of the Old Testament and the New Testament. In fact, we Christians share their history of turning away from God, worshipping at the altars of other idols such as money or alcohol, complaining when we don’t have things our way. Similarly, how shameful that we blame the Jews for Christ’s death! We all share responsibility for his death. All of us.

2. Many Christian religions have downplayed women. But there are amazing women throughout the Bible — from laughing Sarah to courageous Ester to the women who stood by Jesus when all the men save one bailed on him. I note also that women appear to have played key roles of authority and responsibility in the early Church.

3. It became quite clear to me that people in general and politicians in particular pick and choose what they want to quote and emphasize. For example, many politicians make a big deal about homosexuality. But nowhere do we hear about the evils of lending money and charging interest (also condemned). I have come to believe that politicians ignore both the Old Testament condemnation of false prophets as well as Jesus’ harsh words for the Big Shots of Jerusalem. It might be in their spiritual best interests to reconsider.

4. I love the talking donkey!

I have started reading the Bible again, in part because that practice offers some spiritual discipline to a very undisciplined person, in part because it really is a very wise book that reminds me of important lessons, be it numbering my days or loving my enemy.  I just don’t think I can take it literally.

Further reading: The Bible or similar Sacred Text of your choosing

Reflection: 1. How important are sacred texts on your own spiritual journey? In what way are they important?