Friday, October 13, 2006

what we read shapes what we hear

These are beautiful books. They are the Bible. Every word is hand-written. Many pages are illuminated with vibrant hand-drawn pictures. When you open this Bible, you are faced with the text not as black and white, but as vibrant in colour and carefully tender in enscription. It comes in 7 volumes; including the Pentateuch, the Psalms and the Gospel and Acts. For more on the why and how of the project, go here.

On Wednesday I was teaching and I started the class, as we have done every week, by reading from Luke 10:1-12. We have read this same Scripture for the last 7 weeks, dwelling deeply in the Word as a class. (Critics of emerging church might want to note this fact – a class on postmodernity and Christianity, led by an emerging church advocate (me!) that each week reads the same Scripture.)

On Wednesday I showed the class the Saint Johns Bible. I pointed out the care and colour that would have gone into handwriting the entire Bible. And I then read from this “coloured” Bible. One class member spoke; “I don’t want to think in words today. I want to think in images. When I hear this text I think of this image ….”

Fascinating! We have shifted from Christ as the Word of God in John 1 to Christ as the Image of God in Colossians 1. Both Biblical ways of thinking. I use a visual text for the first time in this class and the discussion of the Biblical text becomes visual. A coincidence? Or might it be that what we read from shapes what we hear? Could it be that a different shaped Bible means we hear different things?

Biblical text started life as oral, the stories of Jesus told and re-told by disciples. People heard orally. They were then written down on scrolls. People read a continous document.

Only with the birth of the printing press did the Bible become a book and did people turn pages and read uniform text. The Bibles we read from today are so different from the “original” Bibles. They are products of our technology. And we are shaped by these enculturations.

If we believe people are made in the image of a Creator God, if we believe that all our senses are a gift, then how will we engage ALL the senses around the Bible? Not just sense to appreciate written text, but senses to appreciate oral readings and visual readings.

And in 15 years time most people will engage our Biblical text as digitised and hyperlinked. Now how will that shape what we hear?

Posted by steve at 06:39 PM

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