Saturday, August 27, 2011

Quotable: Study as an act of love

"Careful study is necessary. Without study, spirituality becomes sappy. Without spirituality, study becomes self-indulgent. And without the two walking together, prayer ends up limping along in sighs and stutters. Exegesis is necessary because we have a written word to attend to. It's God's Word, or so we believe, and we had better get it right. Exegesis is foundational to Christian spirituality. Foundations disappear from view as a building is constructed, but if the builders don't build a solid foundation, the building doesn't last long. Too many Bible readers assume that exegesis is what you do after you've learned Greek and Hebrew. That's simply not true. Exegesis is nothing more than a careful and loving reading of the text in our mother tongue. Greek and Hebrew are well worth learning, but if you haven't had the privilege, settle for English. Once we learn to love this text and bring a disciplined intelligence to it, we won't be far behind the very best Greek and Hebrew scholars. Appreciate the learned Scripture scholars, but don't be intimidated by them. Exegesis is the furthest thing from an impersonal act of scholarship; it is an intensely personal act of love. It loves the one who speaks the words enough to want to get them right. Exegesis is loving God enough to stop and listen carefully to what he says. It follows that we bring the leisure and attentiveness of lovers to this text, cherishing every comma and semicolon, relishing the oddness of this preposition, delighting in the surprising placement of this noun. Lovers don't take a quick look, get a "message" or a "meaning," and then run off and talk endlessly with their friends about how they feel."

From the book The Invitation: A Simple Guide to the Bible by by Eugene H. Peterson