Tuesday, May 02, 2006

"How to Read Your Bible"

One of the towering figures in contemporary Orthodoxy is Bishop Kallistos Ware, an Anglican convert to Orthodoxy and retired professor of theology at Oxford University. One of his early works, The Orthodox Church, is frequently cited as being among the best introductions to Orthodoxy available in English.

Several years ago, Bishop Kallistos authored a brief essay on the reading of Scripture. He begins by quoting Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk: "If an earthly king, our emperor, wrote you a letter, would you not read it with joy? Certainly, with gret rejoicing and careful attention. You have been sent a letter, not by any earthly emperor, but by the King of Heaven. And yet, you almost despise such a gift, so priceless a treasure... Whenever you read the Gospel, Christ Himself is speaking to you. And while you read, you are praying and talking to Him."

Following St. Tikhon and the larger Orthodox Tradition, Bishop Kallistos distinguishes four key qualities that characterize a faithful, Orthodox reading of Scripture: First, the reading should be obedient. Second, it should be ecclesial, or within the Church. Third, it should be Christ-centered. Fourth, it should be personal.

His essay is now available online here.