Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Reading the Bible - Letter of St James

Catholics aren't big on reading the Bible. But they should be. As St Jerome famously said, 'Ignorance of Scripture, is ignorance of Christ'.

Traditionally, monks followed a reading programme (reflected in the Divine Office) that involved reading the Bible in a year. A french monk posted a couple of possible versions of a suitable program on the New Liturgical Movement blog for comment last year, and I've been trying to follow them ever since with greater and lesser degrees of sucess.

The program, I would have to say, is a little ambitious unless one has a lot of time to devote to it. I don't think the text is self-evident; you do need a good commentary to give you a bit of context and alert you to the commentaries of the Fathers and the traditional interpretations. Reading the text slowly enough, and pondering its meaning properly takes time, so I've generally ended up moving a little more slowly than the NLM reading program.

All the same, the idea of following the liturgical cycle reflected in the Mass and Matins readings and filling in the gaps in them is a good one, and a great way to gain a greater familiarity with the riches of Holy Scripture. And there are some pretty good online materials available now to help now, so I thought I'd post some links I've found.

This weeks breviary readings are from the letter of St James (it only has five chapters, so quite a manageable proposition). Probably written around 57AD by the Apostle James 'the Lesser', it is similar in genre to the Old Testament Wisdom literature. Its particular significance lies in the fact that Luther wanted to drop it from the canon of the Bible (especially Chapter 2 on the importance of good works), and its provision of the Scriptural basis for the sacrament of anointing (in Chapter 5).
Some useful links:
Any other good links anyone can suggest?

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