Friday 21 August 2015
Ben Myers is a lecturer in Systematic Theology at the United Theological College in Sydney, Australia.
Where do you live and go to church?
I live in Sydney and I’m a member of the Uniting Church.
Name a Bible character you resonate with and why.
For as long as I can remember I always loved King David – both the David of the stories and the David of the Psalms. When I was a boy, the story of David’s shepherding childhood had a special magic for me. When I grew older, the story of his strained relationship to Saul came to mean a lot to me. When I grew older still, it was the stories of David’s griefs and failures that took on new meaning for me. These days the Psalms are the part of the Bible that I love best. The Psalms – like David’s life – seem to measure out the whole breadth of human experience with all its highs and lows. Personally I think the ancient Hebrew editors knew exactly what they were doing when they placed the name of David above so many of the Psalms.
Where do you read the Bible?
Mostly standing up. At home and at work I have a Bible open at standing height so that I can stop and read a bit as I’m walking by. I also like to read a Psalm just before I leave for work so that I can think about it on my commute. I read the King James version at home because it’s the version I grew up with; at work I mostly read the NRSV.
What’s one thing from the Bible that’s stuck in your brain at the moment?
“That which is, is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out?” (Eccles. 7:24)
Name one part of the Bible you keep coming back to again and again and why.
From time to time I like to sit down and read through the whole Gospel of John in one sitting. I find it an almost overwhelming thing to read. It is all so clear and simple and profound and baffling. Almost too good to be true – almost!
Describe one of your Bible reading failures and what you learnt.
When I was young I remember once trying to follow one of those read-the-Bible-in-a-year programmes. I found it a frustrating and tedious exercise. I can’t remember if I ever got through the whole thing, but it wouldn’t have mattered either way. I no longer think there’s anything magic about reading through the whole Bible consecutively. Different books of the Bible are important to us at different times of our lives. We don’t need to treat the whole Bible as if it were all equally important for us. It’s OK to gravitate towards certain parts of the Bible, to keep revisiting those parts, to give them time, to assimilate them slowly into our lives. If for ten years you were to read nothing but the Psalms, that would be a great thing – you wouldn’t be missing anything!
What advice would you give someone struggling to read the Bible each day?
I would encourage you not to think of reading “the Bible” – that’s like trying to read a library (in fact, the early Christians used to refer to the Bible as “the divine library”). Instead, just try to start with one book of the Bible: the Psalms, maybe; or the Proverbs; or one of the Gospels; or whatever is being read in your local church at the moment. The main thing is to practise listening to God in whichever part of the Bible you happen to be reading. And if God says something, see if you can respond in some small way. Try to get into the habit of “doing” the Word as well as “hearing” it (see James 1:22).
And just for fun, if you were a monster what would be your defining feature?
I would live in a cave. I would hoard old books the way other dragons hoard gold.