Reviewing Our Goal
Now what are we doing? Oh yeah, trying to improve our reading of scripture. We want the reading of scripture to grow and improve our understanding of it. We want the time we spend reading the Bible to be effective, productive, and helpful! We want to decrease our confusion and frustration toward scripture, plus we want to increase our understanding and confidence in God and His word! Simply, we are trying to develop skills/tools that will help us read and understand (Eph 3:4), so that, we will not distort the scriptures to our own destruction (2 Pet 3:16).
Our effort is to learn all that we can from the Bible text itself. We want to let the text speak for itself. We want to learn to understand what it meant in the past, originally, as it was written. This effort is what we call Exegesis, that is we are getting (ek) “out of” the text, itself, the meaning of the text. Having a better understanding of what the text meant in the past helps us tremendously in knowing how it should apply in our lives, today. In turn, this will empower not only our lives, but also our confidence in the word of God. Soon, our confidence will abound in our expectation of the word to equip, save, and grow us to the glory of God (2 Tim 3:16-17; James 1:21; 2 Pet 3:18).
Successive Readings With an Angle
- Successive (The readings are done one after the other, in an order.)
- Readings (You do it; it is yours to do. This is personal, a skill you develop to use, personally. You must develop it.)
- With an Angle (It is done with one objective at a time in mind. We gather and value each view/perspective of a book. Thorough, complete, understanding comes from the sum (Psa 119:160) of the angles with which we are reading each book, one book at a time.)
Mood and Atmosphere
In this reading we are gathering the information about the mood, the setting of the book. Some of the kinds of things we are looking for in this reading could be found in answering these questions or questions like them:
- How would you describe the tone of this letter?
- Does it contain friendly references to specific people or more to the church in general?
- Does it seem more like technical instruction/explanation or poetic imagery?
- Is the wording fast paced, as in a rebuke or, was it slow paced imagery so as to bring about reflection and consideration?
- How did the book impact you? Did it leave you Tense? Comforted? Encouraged? Enlightened? Warned? Frightened?
These questions reflect the view/angle that we are after in our initial reading, and they are not answered by analyzing specific details. This is why our objective in this reading is to read out loud and read quickly. Reading aloud and or quickly helps keep us from focusing on some specific detail losing the flow and atmosphere of the book/letter itself.
LISTENING TOGETHER TO THE TEXT
- Impact on you?
- What kind of language was it? Comforting? Rebuking? How did the language move? Fast or Slow?
- What kind of mood did the language create? Was it Comforting? Exhorting / urging them to act?
- Were there changes in the mood?
NOTE: Keep up with these first impressions. Refer back to them as we progress in these readings and see in the end, if your initial evaluations hold up. Notice the value of these readings as we progress along with the others. Each of these readings has value and offers us perspective for our interpretation of the text.
Reading #2 – Recipients
Our next Successive Reading with an Angle (C. Speer, Biblical Interpretation, 2006.) will be a data collection, a reading concerning the Recipients of the letter, those people to whom the letter was originally written. We are reading the text, itself (ONLY), to find out what we can about the recipients. We are looking for more than just a designation (Timothy, Titus et al). We want to find out who they were but also where did they live and what was going on with them? What are they facing? Doing? Not doing? What information/data can we find about them and what kind of data is it? Is it stated fact, or is it implied, and even perhaps, was it strongly implied? This data collection will give us a good part of the occasion of the letter.
Example of Data Collection for the Recipients:
Verse Comment Implied / Stated
1:1 They have received a faith like S
that of the apostles through God’s
1:5-9 They are lacking growth in Christian qualities
or virtues. I
1:10 They lack some confirmation/confidence in their faith. I
1:12-15 They have forgotten important things. I