3 Things Seminary Taught Me: Reading the Bible

This new series of blog posts are short reflections based on what the past four years of seminary has taught me. Indubitably (Kawhi voice), these categories are selective and not exhaustive. Some of these things were brand new discoveries and others were solidified or relearned. The first question: What has seminary taught me about reading the Bible? This particular list is in no particular order.

The Bible is one cosmic story.

The Bible from Genesis to Revelation is one unified Story. Now, not everything in the Bible is narrative literature. However, everything in the Bible has to do with and fits into the Cosmic Story. Even something like the book of Proverbs needs to be read within the framework of the one Cosmic Story. There’s a good guy and a bad guy. Everyone is on one of these sides. God wants you on His side. These sides are cosmic in nature. By this, I mean God has real enemies. There actually are powerful beings and forces who stand opposed to God. One of these sides wins and the other loses (paradoxically God wins by losing). When you read the Bible through this lens not only does it make a lot more sense, but you also find out how important your own purpose and role is within the Story.

Read the Old Testament a lot.

This point follows the first one. If the Bible is one story, then to understand the second half of the story you need to understand the first half. For instance, the very name “Jesus” (Yahweh saves) and the title “the Christ” (anointed one/King) each make little sense apart from the Old Testament. Indeed, the New Testament was written primarily by Jews about the Jewish God acting through a particular Jew. So knowing the Jewish Scriptures (the Old Testament) is vital. The more you read the Old Testament, the more “aha” moments you’ll have reading the New Testament.

Read the Bible in community.

I’m wrong about a lot. I have a limited experience and many prejudices. I live in a specific place at a specific period of time. I can’t understand the Bible by myself. I need help. You need help. We need one another to keep each other on track. An important aspect of this Bible reading community includes sisters and brothers who are in the grave. We need the insights of Christians from throughout the centuries to teach us, lead us, and remind us how to read the Bible. Read the Bible in community, not just by yourself.

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