As we approach the Bible as a spiritual community, we are struck by the immense literary richness contained within its pages. This anthology of texts spanning over a millennium invites us to dive deeply into the currents of human experience with the divine. We recognize that the Bible’s origins are messy, evolving over centuries through oral traditions, editing, and the contributions of many authors across different cultures. Yet in this very messiness, we find an authentic reflection of the depths of human longing, anguish, and striving towards the sacred.

We are reminded that encountering Scripture requires humility and an openness to have our assumptions unsettled. The Bible does not shy away from the harsh realities of violence, suffering, and humanity’s capacity for moral failure – even seeming to put these disturbing elements in conversation with our noblest visions of justice and compassion. In the words of Carmen, we feel the “terror” of stories like the binding of Isaac precisely because as children, our intuitive moral sense was scandalized. Like the early contemplatives, we are invited not to force ourselves into acquiescence, but to lean into that discomfort and allow it to push us towards deeper understanding.

Approaching the biblical texts, we seek to honor the diverse cultural contexts from which they emerged while also remaining open to how the Spirit might speak through them in new ways today. We take inspiration from Brian’s counsel of allowing tension between passages, of not teaching any one verse alone but witnessing the”arguments” and advancing trajectories throughout the canon. Like Richard Rohr, we aim to read Scripture with the eyes of Jesus – elevating the profound kernel of wisdom nested within each metaphor and story.

In our community practice of lectio divina, we savor the strange paradoxes – like Howard Thurman observing that Jesus preached his liberating message from the margins as “a poor Jew on the dispossessed.” We internalize the words slowly, allowing them to become flesh in our lived experience of seeking rest amid stress and burden. We embrace scriptural phrases as embodied truth, carrying them throughout our days as leavening measures of humility and grace.

Ultimately, whether engaging ancient poetry, mythic saga, or prophetic oracles, we encounter the Bible as a dialogue partner – an eclectic chorus of voices beseeching us to join in the great conversation across centuries. We bring our full selves, anchoring our perspectives while remaining open to being remade and reshaped by the Spirit breathing through these living texts. In community, we wrestle together, arguing with the arguments until slowly, humbly, we become microcosms of the Bible itself – messy, evolving receptacles for Divine Wisdom.


The Bible is a collection of literary artifacts and documents written by multiple authors over a span of around 1000 BCE to 120 CE, containing various genres like poetry, biography, legal codes etc. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew while the New Testament was in Greek, with different Christian traditions having slightly varying canonical collections. Translating the Bible into other languages is an interpretive act influenced by the contexts and perspectives of the translators. Reading Scripture respectfully requires acknowledging its human origins, the tensions between different voices and passages, and even disturbing elements – a point emphasized by thinkers like Origen, who suggested reading the Bible’s literal, symbolic, and mystical layers. Engaging with the cultural contexts, practicing lectio divina (sacred reading), and understanding passages in conversation with each other can provide richer interpretation. Figures like Richard Rohr and Howard Thurman offer wisdom on Christological hermeneutics and justice-oriented sacred reading that moves beyond literalism.

Key Points

1. The Bible is a collection of literary artifacts and documents from various authors over a period of around 1000 BCE to 120 CE. It contains different genres like poetry, biography, legal codes etc.

2. The Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures) was written in Hebrew while the New Testament was written in Greek. Different Christian traditions have slightly different canons, with Protestants having 66 books, Catholics having additional 14 Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books.

3. Multiple sources and authors contributed to writing different books of the Bible over time through oral traditions, editing, and compilation.

4. Translating the Bible from original languages to others is an act of interpretation influenced by the translators’ contexts, backgrounds, and perspectives.

5. Reading the Bible respectfully while acknowledging its human origins, multiple voices, tensions and even disturbing passages is important.

6. Techniques like reading different passages in conversation with each other, understanding cultural contexts, practicing lectio divina (sacred reading), and moving beyond literal meanings can provide richer biblical interpretation.

7. Origen suggested reading Scripture’s body (literal), soul (symbolic), and spirit (mystical) levels. Thinkers like Richard Rohr and Howard Thurman offer wisdom on Christological and justice-oriented readings.