savoring god’s word

January 22, 2006

I just finished reading Savoring God’s Word, by Jan Johnson, for a class I’m taking. It was really worthwhile, and is the kind of book anyone who longs to understand the role that the Bible could play in their life sould read.

I’ve had these two concurrent views of Scripture forming in my head in my head for the last few years, but have had trouble harmonizing the two. On the one had, I have discovered, and developed a small appreciation for lectio divina. Simply put, this is a way of praying through small passages of Scripture as we listen for God to speak through them.

At the same time, I’ve developed more and more appreciation for the importance of knowing the historical context of the Scriptures. I’ve found new and richer meaning through that background, and discovered that it is far too easy for us to misread texts without a proper understanding of their roots.

These two views have contradicted each other, as the latter takes an almost scholastic approach to the Scriptures, while the former seems to give them a mystical value that is almost divorced from their original purpose. In Savoring God’s Word, Jan Johnson reconciles the two. She challenges that we can’t simply study the Scriptures for knowledge, but that we have to meditate on them to allow them to transform us. At the same time, the study that we do goes hand in hand with the work of the Spirit as richer understanding shapes our times of meditation.

This might seem like it makes perfect sense, but this is the first time I’ve really seen someone give a balanced view of these approaches to Scripture. I think we are often bent on ‘using’ the Scriptures in the way that most conforms to our personality style while missing out on what they can truly reveal to us. I’m thankful that this book presents a balance. She also gives several hands-on guides through different passages to help the reader shape a practice of meditation that I look forward to utilizing in the weeks or months to come.

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