In this video N.T. Wright is asked how we should read Scripture. I greatly appreciated his answer. He talks about “the whole sweep of Scripture” and our need to read in “big chunks”. At one point he compares Scripture to one of Beethoven’s symphonies saying that we would never want to hear ten bars and then be told to come back next week for ten more. We want the whole thing. Likewise, we ought to take the time (when possible) to read through all of Paul’s letter to the Romans or an entire gospel, not because we will remember it all (who remembers everything one sees in a movie or at a play?), but so that we can be caught up in it.
I can’t remember where I read/heard it, but I think it was Gordon D. Fee who once said that in the midst of all his scholarly pursuits he never forgot that Scripture is the “living Word of God”. Like Fee, and Wright, I don’t think we Christians who cherish Scripture have anything to fear when it comes to critical scholarship. Scholars will find some things that we should heed for it helps us better understand Scripture; they will postulate some things we should reject for we do not want to be those who “will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickeled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires.” (2 Tim. 4.3) If ever there were a place where this would be dangerous it is either listening to a Televangelist or the reading of a paper at an SBL meeting! (smiling)
The Christian God is greater than Scripture, so we must avoid bibliolatry, but we should never forget that God has chosen Scripture as a conduit for revealing himself and his story so that we can come to know him through his Son and Spirit in the community of the saints.