Writing Scripture

Lately, I’ve felt a bit stale.  When I sit down and crack open my Bible, focus flies out the window.  Soon after surgery I blamed it on the painkillers.  Then I blamed it on the cold medicine.  I haven’t had anything blameworthy other than me lately.

I started thinking about new ways to get back into the Scriptures.  I wanted it to be fresh and thought provoking.  Before surgery I saw a video about a husband and wife who were in the process of copying the Bible by hand.  I considered that but found it daunting.

Then today I read this.  The basic idea is going through the Psalms, reading a psalm and then writing an anti-Psalm—the antithesis of the original Psalm.  “Genius!” I thought. So I started.

I love it.  I read Scripture—and not just to say that I’d done it.  On one side of my notebook, I copied the Psalm.  On the facing page, I wrote the anti-Psalm.

This exercise forces me to think about meaning and word choice.  I have to question my choices.  At one point my mind even got a little convoluted trying to figure out which phrase was about the wicked and which was about the righteous.  Is what I’m writing as powerful as what the Psalm says?  If not, how do I make it that powerful?  Am I really saying the opposite of what the psalmist says?  If I’m not, how do I say that?

Granted I only started this today, but I’m excited.  It’s thoughtful and do-able.  I’m excited!

Want to join me?  If not, what are you doing to keep your faith fresh?

photo courtesy of Chris Dillon

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9 Responses to “Writing Scripture”

  1. TanyaFebruary 7, 2011 at 2:52 am #

    I’ve been writing my own Psalms every evening since early December. Last semester our youth group went through 1 Samuel, and one night we compared some Psalms David wrote with the events he wrote them in response to. It encouraged me to start responding to the circumstances of my life in a similar manner – to take it all to God with the sort of raw honesty David did. I’ve really been enjoying it! Taking time to reflect on each day, to see God in it or talk to him about it, has been wonderful 🙂

  2. TirzahFebruary 7, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    Love this! We are going through a study of Isaiah with our home group that requires daily reading, underlining, marking, etc. It has been quite enjoyable.

  3. SherylFebruary 7, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    Tanya—what a great idea! I love the idea of writing your own psalms. Sounds like it could be good fodder for a book one day. What a great idea to match up 1 Samuel and the Psalms. I’m pretty sure I’ve never done that. It would be fascinating.

    Tirzah—It’s definitely the year of Isaiah! It sounds like you’ve really been digging in. Isaiah is one of my fave OT books.

  4. Nathan R. HaleFebruary 7, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    Very cool. I’ve been reading through the Bible using the NLT (great translation for narrative) Chronological Bible, which has really opened my eyes to larger story in the scriptures and God’s gradual revelation of himself. Also, I’ve been using the Book of Common Prayer and the lectionary for morning and evening prayer, which is really nice.

  5. CherylFebruary 8, 2011 at 12:21 am #

    After theology studies, just sitting down and reading the Bible is almost always stale for me… but not always. Sometimes the text for the day is just exactly what I need. The other day, though, I was falling asleep. I like your idea about the psalms. I also like putting myself in the place of a character Jesus meets in a gospel text. Like the time I put myself in the shoes of Peter in John 1 and wondered what new name Jesus would’ve given me. Astounding.
    When I prepare Bible study I copy down the whole text word for word in French. I write in all caps (not sure why. I’ve done this with scripture for years. Makes the words themselves more important than regular ones) and leave plenty of space between the lines. Then I ask all my questions. I usually have at least 3 or 4. Then I go to the Greek and write the signigicant words under the French text. Next it’s the commentaries, and I keep annotating my text. I use colors too, for repeated or important words. Now why would the author use that word so many times? What is he trying to say? I just love digging in because there’s always more to find. Of course, the hardest part is bringing it all down to where I am and what He wants to say to me… (and then to the Bible study group…)
    Still working on that.
    Blessings on you. Soul.

  6. SherylFebruary 8, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    Nathan—I haven’t tried to Chronological Bible yet. Maybe that’s next. I love what Tanya said about looking at 1 Samuel and the Psalms together. Does the Chronological Bible m ix them? That would be so cool! When I first encountered the Book of Common Prayer I thought it was a strange concept. Then, the more I thought about it,more I thought it was a great idea. I often spend so much time and effort sifting through others’ prayers to make sure I concur with the theology. The Book of Common Prayer eliminates that sifting. It definitely has a good place.

    Soul—You are such a scholar! That’s one of the things I love about you. I love, love, love your idea of putting myself in the shoes of the person Jesus speaks to. I will definitely use that the next time I read through the gospels. I know what you mean about different styles of writing for different things. Right now I print the Psalm I’m rewriting and write the anti-psalm in cursive. I think my printing is more precise and lends more gravity to God’s words. I think. As for getting the people in Bible Study to understand and love the passage you’ve just immersed yourself in—I think that’s the challenge of teaching anything you love. Blessings back to you! Soul

  7. Nathan R. HaleFebruary 10, 2011 at 7:21 am #

    Yes, the Psalms are mixed in when they were likely written in the NLT Chronological.

    Although there is some controversy over some word choices in the 1979 BCP, it is overall theologically solid (most of the BCP is Scripture anyways). As a new Anglican, I am doing my best to really dig in to the (new to me, ancient to most) tradition that I am claiming as my own with my faith community. The BCP is a big part of this, and has really become a foundational part of prayer habits.

    I read once that the Christian mystics see different kinds of prayer as a kind of ladder reaching to heaven. Rote/written prayers are the bottom rung in this illustration. Although there may be “higher” forms of prayer, it all starts with the written ones. Not sure how much I agree with this view, but it’s interesting.

  8. SherylFebruary 10, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

    Thanks for the info on the integration of the Chronological. I’m more and more intrigued.

    I didn’t realize you’d aligned yourself with the Anglican expression of the church. Nice! I have a really, really old BCP—probably from the 50s or 60s. I haven’t seen it lately—you know me, not much for doing anything routinely for too long. It’s no a bad idea to pull it out again.

    I can see how the mystics would say that. I think it’s probably a combo . . I mean if most of the written word in a BCP is scripture—what a beauiful and high way to pray (and subsequenty get more scripture deeper into your heart). I think spontaneous prayers from the heart are also important, too.

    OK—so my funny thing from writing the psalms and anti-psalms for the last few days? The day before yesterday I was soooooooooooooo tired, but so determined to stick with the plan. Sadly, I didn’t look at the page very well. I wound up writing Isaiah 3 and an anti-Isaiah 3! No wonder there was prose towards the end!!!! I think a bookmark is in order.

  9. Nathan R. HaleFebruary 15, 2011 at 11:02 pm #

    Yeah…it was an interesting journey to Anglicanism. With everything that I’ve been thinking and absorbing over the past couple of years, I was really thinking I’d end up Lutheran–love that liturgy. 🙂 Yet, I believe that the Anglican church is really where God wanted to place our family. It was truly his providence–it really seems like God prepared us place for us and cultivated our hearts over the past couple of years to be open to his will. I wrote some about the journey here:

    http://nathanrhale.com/post/2903711471/how-i-became-an-anglican

    Definitely agree on the combo prayers 🙂 I used to be really into meditation/lectio divina style prayer, but I fell out of practice. I need to get back into it.

    That is funny about Isaiah. It is tough for me to read anything when I am super-tired, much less really analyze/write about it–feel good that you got that far, even if you were off by a book or two 🙂 Sometimes if I’m doing devotions before bed I’ll find I’ve “read” like 3 pages without comprehending anything!

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