Seminary Pro-Tip: Snacking on Scripture Instead of Skipping

by on November 16, 2015

We’ve all been there. You’re reading a book by some Christian author and they make a point in the course of their chapter. It’s a good point. You agree with it. It’s helpful. And yet, because this author prides themselves on being “biblical”, they feel they have to accompany every word they say with either a Scripture reference or an excerpt of Scripture.

And, inevitably, you end up skipping it. Especially if you already agree with what the person is saying, why do you need to read a paragraph from an extremely well-known passage of Scripture when you’re only four pages away from the end of the chapter? Why look up the reference in a Bible and break your reading rhythm?

Well, I’ve got bad news for you. This doesn’t stop when you’re in seminary. If anything, it gets worse. Instead of one parenthetical reference at the end of a sentence, you have footnotes upon footnotes full of tens of references—perhaps even multiple footnotes per sentence!

So….yeah. You get used to skipping a lot of Scripture in the course of your seminary readings.

And yet, at the same time, most seminarians will tell you that it’s a fight to keep any semblance of devotional Bible reading while in seminary. You read so many pages about the Bible that you’re too exhausted to immerse yourself into the Bible.

So let me give you all a little tip I’ve found occasionally helpful: actually read the excerpts; actually look up some of the Scripture references.

Don’t see it necessarily as part of your reading, or some “proof” for what the writer is saying. Engage in those moments like a quick water break at the sideline bench of your soul. In the midst of the reading and slogging and writing and parsing, feel free to use these opportunities to stop and take a breather.

Keep a Bible nearby, or just pull out your favorite Bible app on your phone. When you encounter a passage printed in your text, or a series of references, say a quick prayer to yourself (“Lord, let me see you” or “Spirit, nourish me”), and then partake.

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About

Frequenting the coffee shops of Philadelphia while employed in social work and finishing up a Masters of Divinity from the Newbigin House of Studies at Western Theological Seminary. He serves Liberti Church as a deacon and seminary intern. Paul blogs at the long way home and tweets as @PaulBurkhart_.