Tuesday, July 27, 2010
How We Read the Bible: Nate Bradford
Our faith backgrounds affect our understanding of God. Nate Bradford, one of the Associate Chaplains for Residence Life, spoke on Monday evening about just this topic and how we might approach reading the Bible.
Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience are all ways that we, as Christians, come to know God and different faith backgrounds emphasize certain aspects over others. Perhaps, Nate said, we can grow in our faith by understating our background and realizing the value in aspects we occasionally overlook. We also learned how the issues that people hold dear tend to affect which scripture passages they often emphasize in their reading of the Bible.
To drive these points home, Nate asked our group to analyze some very well known verses. In this project, we ranked these verses as they related to our understanding of the Bible—not to devalue certain verses, but to understand how we read and interpret the Bible. We then spent some time reading and thinking about the Parable of the Talents. Nate offered to us a non-traditional interpretation of this passage as a way to demonstrate how we can read scripture. We discussed the ideas of canon (the scriptures that influence how we read and understand the Bible and God), genre, the social-historical context of the Biblical story, and the scriptural context of God’s word.
This non-traditional interpretation led to some good discussion about how immense and beautiful the Bible is. The difficulty in interpretation should not be as frustrating as it should be humbling. At no point in Nate’s presentation did he make the claim that he had all the right answers (or that anybody has all the right answers, for that matter), but it’s important to remember that there is a right answer. Reading the Bible is one of the best ways to come to know God, and studying the scripture is not something that can be done quickly or carelessly.