“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.” – Maya Angelou
This past week during our Sunday liturgy, we talked about how Jesus is the voice, both divine and human, that infuse the words of Scripture with fulfillment and meaning. The conversation on Jesus and Scripture will be continued during neighborhood meetings this week. As a supplement to our discussion, here is an essay titled, “Learning to read the Bible Again” written by the authors of The Art of Reading Scripture. In this essay, the writers expand their nine theses on interpreting scripture:
1. Scripture truthfully tells the story of God’s action of creating, judging and saving the world.
2. Scripture is rightly understood in light of the church’s rule of faith as a coherent dramatic narrative.
3. Faithful interpretation of scripture requires an engagement with the entire narrative: the New Testament cannot be rightly understood apart from the Old, nor can the Old be rightly understood apart from the New.
4. Texts of scripture do not have a single meaning limited to the intent of the original author. In accord with Jewish and Christian traditions, we affirm that scripture has multiple complex senses given by God, the author of the whole drama.
5. The four canonical Gospels narrate the truth about Jesus.
6. Faithful interpretation of scripture invites and presupposes participation in the community brought into being by God’s redemptive action — the church.
7. The saints of the church provide guidance in how to interpret and perform scripture.
8. Christians need to read the Bible in dialogue with diverse others outside the church.
9. We live in the tension between the “already” and the “not yet” of the kingdom of God; consequently, scripture calls the church to ongoing discernment, to continually fresh re-readings of the text in light of the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work in the world.