I had a professor in Bible college who would always tell his students that to bore people with the Bible is a sin. Why? Because the Bible is not boring! It is the greatest story ever told. However, there are times when I do not enjoy reading the Bible. I hate to admit it, but it is true.
Matthew Mullins’ book Enjoying the Bible: Literary Approaches to Loving the Scriptures seeks to help people like you and me enjoy the Bible the way God and the human authors intended it to be enjoyed.
Mullins emphasizes the idea that understanding the meaning of any text must involve feeling the emotion of the text as well. The only way we will have a holistic interpretation of Scripture is if we allow it to enact emotions within us.
Depending on the way God created you, the personality he gave you, and the way you interact in the world, you may or may not be good at engaging with your emotions. This is a skill that some of us need to learn and apply to our lives as followers of Christ. Being a Christian should involve the way we think, act, and feel.
Mullins starts by introducing poems and having the reader practice sensing the feeling of the poem. He coaches the reader on the use of imagery in literature, not just reading to understand with our thoughts. So much of God’s Word is poetry, and this book helps us read God’s Word for more than just information.
Mullins offers us a few different strategies for how we should read the Bible for more than just study. Studying the Bible is an extremely worthy task. However, often in our study of the Bible, we approach it with an agenda—we want answers and we want our needs met—when we should actually be reading with purpose and for pleasure, looking to get in on the action of the text and be immersed in the world of the Bible.
One thing I love about this book is its practicality. Mullins provides questions to answer and a suggested passage to work through at the end of every chapter. Chapters 8 through 12 are written to help you take the idea of enjoying the Bible and apply it to your life. It guides you to experience the feelings that God wants you to have when he speaks to you through his Word.
The end of Mullins’ introduction sums up the reason he writes this book: “It is my hope that if you read this book in good faith and adopt these practices, then, in time, you will look back on how you used to read the Bible and marvel at how much more you’ve come to love it, and, as a result, love God” (p. 16). If this is an experience you are looking for, I highly suggest you check out this book!