Sunday, February 11, 2007

Individual Bible Study

Rob Bell, in his book "Velvet Elvis", points out that prior to the 16th century or thereabouts, it was very rare for an individual to own a copy of any portion of the Scriptures, much less an entire copy.

Accordingly, individual Bible reading and study was essentially unheard of.

That which we encourage today, individualized reading, is a new invention.

I believe it's a good invention, but it's interesting to realize that it's a new invention.

However, I believe we have lost the advantage of not having our own copies of the Scriptures, for before that was common, the common practice was to get together with others and spend hours discussing scriptures. This sort of interaction would go a long way toward keeping the far-out ideas tamed, as you'd immediately have other knowledgeable Truth-seekers to analyze and critique your ideas.

However, lest you suddenly decide to do away with individual study in an effort to return to the "old paths", let me remind you that the Ethiopian eunuch had his own copy (at least of Isaiah), and was doing his own individual study. I would daresay that the eunuch was rather unique in having his own copy of a portion of the Scriptures.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Interesting points. Now it is worth considering, or wondering, just how many people back then knew how to read. I don't have any numbers, but as I understand it not that many did, and we are still working on universal literacy. What we have in the US or modern Europe wasn't necessarily what the had back in the 16th century or earlier, or for that matter, in the 18th and 19th centuries.