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Our Interview with Christianity Today on the Museum of the Bible

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the Museum of the Bible, which opens on November 17 in the heart of Washington, DC. The 430,000-square-foot space three blocks south of the Capitol building will be a sight to behold, boasting technological spectacles like a 140-foot overhead LED screen, a performing arts theater with 17 4K resolution projectors, handheld touchscreen “digital docents,” augmented reality games for kids, and more.

The 140-ft LED ceiling displays 5 different scenes (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

Christianity Today’s November cover story is on the forthcoming opening of the museum, so they reached out to us and hosted Glenn Paauw on their “Quick to Listen” podcast with assistant editor Morgan Lee and editorial director Ted Olsen. They unpack what it means to have a Museum of the Bible, what it means to engage the Bible, and what role our experiences with the Bible play in our understanding of God’s Word.

Check out Glenn’s interview with CT and let us know what you think.

 

Watch All 4 Episodes of Feasting on the Scriptures

The Institute for Bible Reading recently joined Bible Gateway for a Facebook Live series titled Feasting on the Scriptures. Each of the four episodes gives practical advice on the steps to take toward “reading big” on the path to great Bible engagement.

If you didn’t catch these episodes on Facebook Live, you can watch them all right here. To get notified of future Facebook Live events, make sure you Like and Follow the Institute for Bible Reading and Bible Gateway on Facebook.

Episode 1: Reading Whole Books

The natural building blocks of the Bible are whole books which are meant to be engaged as complete works. Learn about why reading whole books is the first and most important thing to do with the Bible:

Episode 2: Reading the Bible as a Story

Not every book of the Bible is a story, but every book does contribute in its own way to the grand narrative of the Scriptures. Find out how that works:

Episode 3: Reading the Bible with Jesus at the Center

Every book of the Bible, whether First Testament or New Testament, should be read through the “Jesus Lens.” What does that mean? Glenn Paauw explains:

Episode 4: Reading the Bible Together

The Bible is meant to be a community formation book. While private devotions and quiet times are valuable, Paul Caminiti explains that they can’t be a substitute for communal engagement and discussion:

Prequel: Bible Reading Is Broken and It’s Not Your Fault

Is Bible Literacy The Right Goal?

I have only recently understood the difference between “literacy” and “fluency” when it comes to the Bible.

Like most, I grew up with reference Bibles that were formatted for study, but not necessarily for reading. Like any good reference work (think dictionary, encyclopedia, textbook), the chapters, verses, subheadings, footnotes, cross-references, and other well-meaning additives were designed to make it easier to “reference” content. But it turns out they were also barriers to simply reading and losing myself in the story. There wasn’t a clear invitation to just read, to read unencumbered, to read for distance, or even to read for enjoyment. And as such, it was more difficult to find myself in the story.

Bible LiteracyIn fact, most of my life with the Bible has been constrained by that reference format, leading to the inevitable outcome of lots of study, mastering propositions and doctrine, sword drills around individual verses, ensuring a clear “world view” and so on. Per the definition of literacy, I would say I am actually pretty “literate” when it comes to the Bible. I developed a certain level of competence or knowledge about the Bible, including memorizing lots of verses. And I did it through diligent, personal quiet times.

But when it comes to “fluency” with the Bible—which is defined as “the ability to express oneself readily, effortlessly, and articulately”— I don’t feel nearly as confident. An educator referencing the 21st Century Fluency Project describes the difference between literacy and fluency this way: “To be literate means to have knowledge or competence. To be fluent is something a little more, it is to demonstrate mastery and to do so unconsciously and smoothly.”

When it comes to the Bible, I am not nearly as fluent as I am literate. And the data seems to indicate I am not alone! Being able to confidently relay the complete story of the Bible, to delineate the different types of literature that combine to form our canon, to easily recognize historical context and linkages between the major sections of the Bible is very different from being literate about the Bible. Glenn Paauw in his new book, Saving the Bible from Ourselves, (InterVarsity Press, May 2016) talks about the Bible as drama and describes what I mean by fluency this way: “to become so immersed in the script of (all) the acts of the Bible that we come to know this story in our bones.” He goes on to say, “We have virtually no chance of playing our parts well if we don’t really know how the full story goes.” I am not nearly as confident in my ability to accurately tell the complete story of the Bible, with all its majesty, mystery and nuance. Are you? Literacy is different than fluency. I’m convinced that to read the Bible well, I need to leverage literacy with greater fluency.

The first Reformation ushered in mass access to what we now know as “reference Bibles.” Perhaps on the 500th anniversary of Luther’s 95 Theses next October, God’s Spirit will usher in a renewed reformation of deeper Bible absorption via mass use of “reading Bibles” as communities gather in conversations around the Text. Perhaps we can build on whatever level of literacy we have by deepening our fluency with God’s amazing creation and restoration story.

Watch: Glenn Paauw’s Interview With Phil Vischer

If you have an appetite for ukuleles, lighthearted singing, and good discussion on the Bible, well, you’ve come to the right place. Institute Director Glenn Paauw was a guest on the Phil Vischer podcast recently, recording an extended interview about his new book, Saving the Bible From Ourselves. Phil and Glenn are joined by Christian Taylor and Skye Jethani.

Phil is the Founder of Big Idea Productions, Jellyfish Labs, and the creator and storyteller behind VeggieTales and What’s in Bible. If his voice sounds a little familiar, that’s because he is the voice behind several VeggieTales characters including Bob the Tomato. You can see more of what he’s doing at philvischer.com

Check out the interview and leave your comments below!

 

Listen: Glenn Paauw Interview with Desiring God

Yesterday desiringgod.com, the website affiliated with pastor and author John Piper, posted an interview with Glenn Paauw, one of our Directors and author of Saving the Bible From Ourselves. The interview, titled A Short History of Bible Clutter, focused primarily on the modernization of the Bible and the consequences of engaging with a Bible that has so much extra-biblical information packed into its pages.

“I think what happened over time is we just started inserting more things into Bible design, all with the interest of providing help, of course,” said Paauw, “There were practical reasons for these things. But by the time you get to the end of the history of the Bible in our time, these helps, these additions have pretty much overwhelmed the text.”

Saving the Bible From OurselvesThe interview was conducted by Tony Reinke, a staff writer at Desiring God and host of the Ask Pastor John podcast. Reinke asked Paauw about the implications of the “data smog” that comes with using a modernistic Bible, specifically the column of cross-reference texts that are present in many study Bibles.

“I think cross-references down the middle column of a Bible are kind of an early version of a built-in distraction system. They tell us to jump around the Bible looking at this verse and that verse, not necessarily stopping to take the time to read each of those references in its own context.” Paauw explained, “The danger is I think I am really getting significant Bible study, topical study, these sorts of things, but there is a clearer danger and, again, I say: The first and the primary and the most natural thing to do with the Bible is to read individual books at length in their own terms.”

You can listen to the beginning of the interview below; the full interview and transcript is available at www.desiringgod.com.

Saving the Bible From Ourselves is available from InterVarsity Press and Amazon. Join our mailing list to receive the first chapter for free!