Tim suggests that there are two ways of reading the Bible; from the outside (as a scholar or critic must) and from the inside (as we do when we read a novel). Tim writes: "Each basic direction of reading offers several different options or styles. But the basic question facing a reader of any text [is] whether to read as critic or as reader. “Readers” must offer the text a willing suspension of disbelief."
But which is the 'right' choice when it comes to the Bible? When I read high-stakes non-fiction I read critically. If I'm relaxing with a space-opera Sci-Fi novel I joyfully enter the game. It's pretty much either/or. So which is the most appropriate strategy for reading the Bible, or are we supposed to somehow use both simultaneously, and how would that work?
|Holy Writ too?|
My best suggestion is that a reading 'from the inside' must be subsequent to one 'from the outside.' An 'outside reading' isn't just for the scholar or critic in an age where knowledge is being increasingly democratised. In other words, if I want to enter the story on its own terms - maybe the second chapter of Genesis - I need to have first honestly engaged (and acknowledged!) the issues around an 'outside reading.' If not, I either end up spouting dogmatic blather (as a fundamentalist does) or mystical blather (for those with more refined literary sensibilities). The trouble is, ignorance provides a higher octane rating for preachers and evangelists, who by and large are not fond of either qualifications or nuance.
But who, apart from a few ivory towered individuals, is going to bother with dubious distinctions and strategies like these anyway? Maybe somebody can help me out here by suggesting another category of literature that requires this stereoscopic (schizoid?) approach?