Skip to main content

The Public Reading of Scripture




Devote Yourself to the Public Reading of Scripture by Jeffrey Arthurs

Congregations are moved by song, challenged by sermons, and focused prayer, but very few services highlight the importance of Scripture reading.  Jeffrey Arthurs, professor preaching at Gordon Conwell Seminary seeks to counter this trend by penning his book entitled Devote Yourself to the Public Reading of Scripture.  Centering his writing around the theme of building an appetite for a special meal, Arthurs connects the importance of reading Scripture aloud with way in which the Bible ministers to people when read well (14).  To begin, Arthurs provides five reasons why we should orally recite the Bible: we are commanded to read the Bible (1 Timothy 4:13), God transforms us through the Word, we do what the people of God have always done when reading the Bible, the Bible was meant to be read aloud and hearing is quite different than reading the Bible (15-33).  What I thought was unique about this list was that it captured both a theological stance for reading Scripture and a practical one.  Transformation happens through God’s Word, and yet, often hearing the Word regularly allows the words to penetrate our mind and hearts much more deeply in some cases than just reading the text. 

The second chapter relates the process of setting the table or preparing oneself for reading Scripture.  Just as the task of preaching is connecting the world of the text with the world today, so public reading seeks to do the same thing (38).  Rather than flippantly reading through particular passages, “How we speak the written words – using the pause, emphasis, word color, eye contact, gestures, and so forth is the way we bridge the gap” (38-39).  Our non-verbal cues carry great weight in the public reading of Scripture, offering to the reader a constant distraction or an inviting attentiveness.  Getting ready to read Scripture takes some work.  Arthurs mentions a particularly important point by mentioning mental preparation as a key ingredient to public reading.  How many times have you seen someone butcher the names, places, and geographical locations in the Bible?  Arthurs encourages readers to ‘understand how to pronounce all words,’ before they are set to read in public (45).  I believe this to be of utmost importance because the times that I have been unsure of the pronunciations are the times when my nervousness results in distracting mannerisms.  Some key action points are developing a sense of the story in narratives, understanding or highlighting key words and phrases, and practicing the reading multiple times before the service (46).  These points are wonderful reminders that a good public reading of the Bible takes a lot of considerations. 

Chapter 4 was one of the best chapters in the whole book.  Why? Arthurs delves into a way we communicate through what we look like.  Figure 4.1 on page 71 was crucial in understanding mannerisms (unconscious incompetence – unconscious competence).  Often, we don’t realize that we speak volumes with our mannerisms, everything from our posture, gestures and movement.  We have the ability to awaken our hearers with the way we present the Bible to them.  Raising our arms, coming closer to the people, or moving in a specific direction all should call attention to the shape of the text we are reading.   Instead of being unaware of the negative impact our mannerisms have on people,   having unconscious competence means that we have control of what we look like at all times, even to the point of not thinking about it. 

The DVD in the back flap of the book is immensely helpful as well.  The DVD allows you to see how non-verbal mannerisms can really be used for good in the public reading of Scripture.  Arthurs takes you through the specific points in communicating what we look like to others.  This book is not only helpful for readers of Scripture, but I find all of these points applicable to preachers also.  Knowing how you can be an effective communicator of the gospel is always an advantage in ministry.

Thanks to Kregel Academic & Professional for the review copy of this book in exchange for review. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishers
Growing up with the NIV, the NKJV was not a bible I was familiar with.  This new NKJV Study Bible takes all of the features of the Thomas Nelson Study Bible and makes them better.  Right out of the box I noticed that the Bible was considerably lighter than most study bibles I have read.  Further, the text font was much larger than most study editions, although I’m not quite sure of the size. The aquamarine color was a great touch and the Bible was finely put together, enduring the wear of many coming years of use.
Why is this Bible worth the purchase?  First, the study notes were great for extra handling of particular confusing and messy areas of Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments.  Yet, the study notes aren’t an obstruction to the reading of the biblical text.  Clearly, the editors have taken great care in making the text stand out and the notes illuminate certain themes and areas of Scripture.  Second, the NKJV takes into account all t…