Public reading of Scripture

The reading of the Scriptures must never be perfunctory or merely formal. It should not be a mere authoritative presentation of facts or proclamation of words . . . The reader must live his ideas at the time of utterance. . . . He can manifest to others the impressions made on his own being. . . . [For] when one soul is made to feel that another soul is hearing a message from the King of kings, he too bows his head and hears the voice of the infinite speaking in his own breast.

–S. S. Curry, Vocal and Literary interpretation of the Bible (New York: Macmillan, 1903), 132.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by paul modise on February 15, 2011 at 6:59 am

    fellow brethren,

    This is excatly what happened about 4000 years ago when the Judeans were coming form exile in Babylon. They read publicly Nehemiah 7: 72 – 8:1 – 10

  2. A suggestion borne of long-practiced policy in my pastorates:

    Make the public reading of Scripture most effective by requiring the flock to ~listen~ to what is read. Such requirement is simple to effect: do not place the text of the Scripture being read in the hands of the flock at the time they are supposed to be listening to it.

    Requiring that public reading of Scripture be paired with public listening to Scripture has two fundamental results:

    1. It requires the flock to attend to what is being read. This puts the listener in a basically receptive “posture” to the reading. This receptivity is diminished, sometimes entirely lost, when the supposed listener is actually reading from a scrap of paper in his hands.

    2. It hinders the listener from sitting in judgment on the reader. When the listener’s ear is on the reader’s voice while his eyes are on the paper, the “listener” easily becomes a judge of the reader’s rendition of the text.

    Try this for a few Sundays. The first reaction will probably be complaints (!), because listening attentively requires work on the part of the listener.

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