Faith seeking understanding

'Inwardly digesting' Holy Scripture: three aids

As followers of Jesus, we can “digest” the Scriptures more meaningfully and faithfully by reading them comparatively, contextually, and in community. Bob Derrenbacker, the new Dean of Trinity College Theological School, explains.

By Bob Derrenbacker

March 5 2019In the Canadian Book of Common Prayer (1962), the Collect for the First Sunday of Advent is one of my favourites as a New Testament scholar and as an Anglican. It reads: “Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thous hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.”

There is much in this short prayer – among other things, an acknowledgement that the holy Scriptures were “written for our learning”, and a petition that asks of God for divine wisdom in our hearing, reading, marking, learning, and “inwardly digest[ing]” the Scriptures, so that we might better comprehend and live the Christian life.

How can we more effectively “inwardly digest” God’s word that we hear in the Scriptures? As followers of Jesus, how can we read the Bible more meaningfully and faithfully?

I think there are three ways that we can read the Scriptures that allow us to better interpret them, to “digest” them as the Collect puts it; three “digestive aids” if you will: 1) Read the Bible comparatively; 2) Read the Bible contextually; and 3) Read the Bible in community.

Let me say some brief words about each...

The Revd Bob Derrenbacker is the Dean of Trinity College Theological School

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