The Book of Faith Initiative recommends a 4-fold method of reading Scripture.
For many of us, the encounter with Scripture is limited
to the excerpts that are read on Sunday morning. Many of us—and many of our
neighbors—are biblically illiterate, unsure of how to engage Scripture. Many of
us are unaware of the rich Lutheran insights that have been helpful in
understanding the many ways that God engages us through the Bible. The challenge
of Book of Faith is to address these realities directly and to experience more
fully the power of the Word.
We begin by reading the Bible text and reflecting on its
meaning. We ask questions and identify items that are unclear. We bring our
unique background and experience to the Bible, and the Bible meets us where we
We seek to understand the world of the Bible and locate
the setting of the text. We explore who may have written the text and why. We
seek to understand the particular social and cultural contexts that influenced
the content and the message. We wonder who the original audience may have been.
We think about how these things “translate” to our world today.
We pay close attention to how the text is written. We
notice what kind of literature it is and how this type of literature may
function or may be used. We look at the characters, the story line, and the
themes. We compare and contrast these with our own understanding and experience
of life. In this interchange, we discover meaning.
We consider the Lutheran principles that help ground our
interpretation of the Bible text. We ask questions that bring those principles
and unique Lutheran theological insights into conversation with the text. We
discover how our Lutheran insights can ground and focus our understanding and
shape our faithful response to the text.
Devotional reading; we return to where we started, but now we have
explored and experienced the Bible text from four different dimensions. We are
ready to move into the “for” dimension. We have opened Scripture and joined in
conversation for a purpose. We consider the meaning of the text for faithful
living. We wonder what God is calling us (individually and as communities of
faith) to do. We consider how God’s Word is calling us to do God’s work in the