Sunday, October 28, 2018

The public reading of Scripture

Stephen Presley at the Center For Baptist Renewal observes that "one of the startling ironies facing our church culture is the simple fact that as access to the Bible has increased biblical literacy has decreased." He argues that a part of the remedy might be "Recapturing a Love for Public Scripture Reading.":
I don’t assume that corporate Scripture reading alone will cure the problem, but it can’t hurt either. If only for a few moments, it will unite the entire church in a communal act of listening and engaging the word of God, which might just help us take some incremental steps toward hiding the word in our hearts. ....

...[T]he early church has always prized the public reading of Scripture. They could not imagine a worship service without some one reading healthy portions of Scripture drawn from across the canon. The thought that a pastor might read only a few verses (or no verses at all!) and then entertain the congregation for forty minutes with funny stories and pop culture references would strike them as bizarre at best. ....

...[I]n the early church, public reading was not—as some today might imagine—boring. They did not advocate a dry, monotone-reading that slowly plodded through the text. Public reading in the early church was a lively and imaginative performance, where the reader interpreted the text, through gestures, tone, intonation, rhythm, and cadence. ....

This also means that the one who reads Scripture corporately was not a random member of the congregation selected five minutes before the service started, but a serious student of the Scriptures, who studied the pronunciation and nuances of each passage.