The last post used the metaphor of “swallowing whole books of the Bible” and this one will pick up the baton. Sometimes the length isn’t what scares us but rather myths such as those which claim one must possess great Bible scholarship. We all can and should learn how to gnaw on and chew up these contents.
As we taste food, we immediately begin the process of breaking it up into smaller parts. Our teeth tear up beautiful works of art. Chewing is integral to eating and even swallowing. We cannot swallow most solid foods without some degree of this breakdown process.
When we are accustomed to mostly reading the equivalent of microwaved single packs of Scripture, we do not even realize our malnourishment.
So I maintain that when we are satisfied with ONLY tiny portions of selected text (often accompanied by an even larger amount of devotional commentary), we are eating previously chewed chunks. I know it’s disgusting but hang in here with me. When we read an entire book, we begin to get the taste. Contrastingly, when we don’t have a taste for the whole plate, we will diminish the qaulity of that very morsel.
Our jaws are made for chewing (and talking) and our minds likewise are made for ruminating. Not that minds are meant exclusively for these purposes but these seem to be the most common uses.
As the reader continues to chomp down on shorter segments such as new words and phrases and sentences, he also shovels in mouthfuls of propositions, entire acts, even accounts of entire epochs.
There’s a neat sequence to all of this that should not be diverted.
Hearing and reading are more akin than one might think. Reading is an active way of engaging in the reception of communication, listening. In the same way that a plate must be plucked before it can be plundered, so are large passages necessarily carved.
This may sound contradictory at first, as if I’m suggesting dividing whole books in smaller parts. No doubt, this tactic will be needed in some cases but that’s not what I mean here. In reading a full book at once, we hear the developments, the breaks, the continuities more naturally as if the written word were methodically designed that way. Remember hearing the Word produces faith.
Chewing on an entire book of the Bible simply means we meditate on it. How can we meditate on something which has not yet been resolved. To hear and/or read this much at once helps us to really think about all its elements in an interconnected way, the way it’s written and told.
Chewing on God’s Word changes us deeply.
Here are 3 tips that have helped me better chew on whole books of the Bible:
- 1. Listening to the audio while following along has become a morning habit, thanks to Youversion.
- 2. Copy & paste the book after deleting all interruptions (chapter and verse numbers, headings, footnotes, etc.)
- 3. Re-reading and listening/reading together to the same passage in several other translations over the course of a few day s. (Not an overload, for me, I use maybe 3 trusted favorites, outside of NASB.)