Ways to see the Bible

Just a quick note on a thought regarding ways of seeing the Bible. The first, which I call the closed approach, is to see the text as complete and final – in other words, God said what needed to be said, and as such we have his authority on all matters of life and faith. God will not say anything else, rather he will illuminate the text of the Bible. The text then becomes the lens through which to view all texts. This is the way of seeing that I once had.

The second way of seeing, the open approach, is to see the text as incomplete. God speaks in the text, but not in the sense of being the author. Instead, we imagine and engage with God through the expressions of the numerous authors of the Bible. Their thoughts were not perfect – they are culturally conditioned and limited to each author’s understanding, context, and language. In some sense, God ‘peeks’ through the text (or texts), not in an immediately clear fashion, but in more of a veiled sense. It’s almost like Moses on the mountain where he requests to see God. ‘No man can see God and live’. Moses demands to see him, and glimpses a vision from behind. There’s a sense of veiled appearance, of not truly getting the full picture. This is the open approach. It is additionally informed by texts outside of the Bible, where God appears in various guises.

Thinking about this, isn’t the open approach just a much more wonderful way of understanding God? It leads to wonder and surprise at just how and where God can show up.

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2 responses to “Ways to see the Bible

  • Mystical Seeker

    I agree with the open approach. I think it is useful to engage with the authors of the Bible, or to imagine ourselves engaging with God as the authors themselves did. I tend to see it as a dialogue–the authors were in dialogue with God, and we are in dialogue with God, and we are in dialogue with those who preceded us (and who wrote things down, such as in the Bible).

  • Gary

    I guess you could then call it the dialogical approach. You’ve started me on a whole new search! Thanks that that.

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