Friday, October 22, 2004

in the beginning it was not the word

After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea. Colossians 4:16

The letter to Colossians is to be read, and it is to be read in community.

Then the printing press changed the world. It made the Bible available to many individuals. But in doing so, it changed the Bible from being located as oral and in community, to written, private, individual text.

What does it mean for us to, in the spirit of Colossians, read the Bible orally and in community? And if our world is becoming image-based and digital, how will this re-shape our interaction with the Bible?

Posted by steve at 02:44 PM


  1. It contrasts hugely with the whole private quiet time thing, doesn’t it… that sense of closeting oneself away with Bible in hand.

    Comment by lynne — October 22, 2004 @ 2:48 pm

  2. Exactly Lynne! Important questions Steve…I wonder what Anglo / Catholic congregations (the OT / NT / Gospel read / listened to) remixed with a tactile, participatory ‘reading’ of the Bible in community with others (e.g. your Sunday night gathering) might look and feel like. I often wonder about the practicalities of describing a church as a Scripture shaped community (an expression Richard Hay’s uses) – what does that look and feel like? What might your questions mean for those of us who don’t belong to local churches and perhaps have no other option but to hear and engage with the Bible on an individual basis?

    Comment by Paul Fromont — October 22, 2004 @ 4:32 pm

  3. Maybe it’s the word “read” we need to change. When the Colossians read the leter, it was (in our – post-print – terms) performed.

    For us, now, to read means to consume silently. Reading is what I do to library books over the long weekend (except when I am out walking on the beach or marking…). Performing is what someone does when they give a text to other people (whether the “text” is music, script, or painting…).

    Maybe we should think of our reading of Scripture as background to performing some part of it…

    Talking of “performing” Scripture also frees us from assuming (wrongly) that only words are involved!

    Comment by tim — October 23, 2004 @ 7:12 am

  4. So it is not so much about ‘reading’ as about ‘listening’ either with our ears, eyes, hearts or minds to whatever method is being used eg. art, dance, music, teaching. I do feel though that our Christian lives are not to be lived solo but in community (whatever that term means?)

    Comment by Karen — October 23, 2004 @ 2:16 pm

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