Saturday, August 21, 2010

melodious stories

I'm reading a book by Peter Leithart called Deep Exegesis: The Mystery of Reading Scripture. Great book so far!  Leithart wants us to get to the place where we are experiencing Scripture the way it is written, rather than rushing to get to the 'timeless moral truth' that is being taught. 

He likens reading to music.  Music is impossible to appreciate in one moment, and there is no fair way to summarize it.  Instead we must take the time to listen to the whole thing, appreciating the beauty of each note in relation to the others.  The more times we hear the entire piece, the more we will know it and the more that music will shape the way we think and feel. 

Here's what Leithart says about the Bible:  "God in his infinite wisdom decided to give us a book, a very long book, and not a portrait or an aphorism.  God reveals himself in his image, Jesus, but we come to know that image by reading, and that takes time.  God wants to transform us into the image of his image, and one of the key ways he does that is by leading us through the text.  If we short-circuit that process by getting to the practical application, we are not going to be transformed in the ways God wants us to be transformed.  'Get to the point' will not do because part of the point is to lead us through the labyrinth of the text itselfThere is treasure at the center of the labyrinth, but with texts, the journey really is as important as the destination." (55, emphasis mine)

Perhaps this is why I so often have trouble distilling what I'm learning from Scripture into a blog post.  Short cuts are never as beautiful as the scenic route, and a photograph is a poor substitute for a journey.  Hopefully the snippets I share here will spur you on to take a few trips yourself.  Take your time, and enjoy the ride!


  1. Who would you recommend this book for? I am looking for good books on reading Scripture, hermeneutics, and exegesis, that I can recommend to my church family, to help them grow in those areas. What level would you say this book is written at?

    Sidenote: it's available at Logos currently :)

  2. Jon,
    The book presupposes a fairly sophisticated handle on classical literature, but also engages with popular culture. For a lay audience or for undergraduates, I might recommend skipping the first chapter, where the waters are a bit deep. My favorite chapter, and one I could imagine assigning on its own to undergraduate students, is chapter 4 - 'The Text is a Joke.' For audiences without a grasp of the classics, I would encourage them to read the book without getting distracted by references to literature unfamiliar to them. The heart of Leithart's message stands without these learned illustrations.