Feb 12, 2013

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MEDITATION: Ode to the Bible

Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage (Psalm119:54)

Whoever reads the Bible in a committed way must be prepared for a great adventure.

The Bible is not a textbook of stale dogmas and ponderous teachings. The Bible is primarily the fascinating and absorbing tale of God’s patient and forgiving love for the world, in particular for the human race.

In this regard the well known Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann writes: “The Bible is essentially an open, artistic, imaginative narrative of God’s staggering care for the world.”

Put differently and in a more metaphorical way – the Bible is the deposit over centuries of human beings’ first hand experiences of this amazing care and love of God – their overwhelming, intriguing and at times, hugely imaginative and poetic response and testimony to the wonderful things that God had done for them, especially at times when they felt vulnerable and lost.

As such the Bible is also a book full of human emotion – honest doubt and shocking rebellion, shattering guilt and unbearable heartbreak, but also exuberant joy and uninhibited praise and wonder.

This constant flow or current of emotions is specifically strong in the book of the psalms. But the keen and devoted reader will find it everywhere – in and behind all the many tales, letters, laws and other writings, like a deep river steadily flowing and finding its way through the many layers of history.

In this way the Bible becomes a true reflection of the human condition as it has evolved and developed over many centuries. It even offers scintillating and illuminating commentary on human life – the best you can get.

It exposes and splays out life to the bone. It touches on the deeper causes and reasons for our pain and bewilderment, the violence and apathy which have ravaged and disrupted societies over so many centuries. The Bible castigates and cautions. It calls us to order and responsibility. It also invites and encourages us to new choices, fresh opportunities.

Finally the message of the Bible offers forgiveness and consolation, balm to our wounds and pains. It inspires us to be jubilant and to rejoice in new freedom and hope.

It is indeed a book of great comfort.

Carel Anthonissen

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