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The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel

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Lillian Daniel: It's Not Your Book

June 01, 2014

"They received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily..." - Acts 17:11 

When you get your first Bible, you treasure it, and keep it somewhere special. You open it and start reading, telling yourself you'll read a little every day because it's such a special book.  

And then you stop.  

Or at least I stopped, because, in terms of silent reading, the Bible is not exactly a page-turner.  

First, it's not one book but a collection of books. There are long, boring lists. One good story runs into another. It's hard to keep the characters straight. Important plot details get left out.  The so-called letters sound like lectures.  

Yes, some people do read the Bible by themselves and they get a tremendous amount out of it. 

But if you don't enjoy reading your Bible silently, go easy on yourself. It's not beach reading. And it wasn't actually produced for individual consumption.  

For most of Christian and Jewish history, the Bible was not read silently by solitary individuals. It was read out loud, and listened to, in groups.  

People memorized the words and told the stories to each other. Generations later, they wrote them down, by hand, on heavy scrolls. There were very few written copies, so people got together and listened to someone read it. But it didn't end in silence. Naturally, they talked, debated, interpreted and listened to each other's questions. 

"Do you really believe that happened?"
"What does any of this have to do with me today?"
"Didn't we hear a different versions of the same story somewhere else?"
"Why on earth did God choose to work with that idiot?"
"What does it mean?"  

Yes, you may own a copy of the Bible with your name on it. But let's be clear. It's not your book. 

It's our book. 

Speak to me, Still Speaking God, as I read and listen.  Speak to us, Still Speaking God, as we read and listen.


From UCC's Still Speaking Devotionals. Visit

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