Friend Meredith made an interesting comment:
Taken literally, this passage is difficult because it does not match my experience.
It is interesting to me, as it implies there may be figurative ways of taking this passage, and its hard words (like righteous) that do not pose for her difficulties and which may be true (or at least truer) to her expereince(s).
We all bring reading strategies to the words we read. Taking the text literally is just one such strategy. Advocates of literalism try to privilege literal interpretation — discounting other approaches. Similarly, the scholarly approach of histoprical critical method(s) tends to discount other approaches as well.
What reading strategies do Friends (and friends) tend to use when they approach a scriptural passage? Or are we even aware of using them when we do?
I tend to use a gamut of strategies often labelled reader response. I ask the question, what can we know about the intended or ideal reader of this passage? And tehn I tend to ask how that affects my how the passage might be read. And whetehr th wisdom in it can properly be applied to me — if I don’t approximate that ideal reader.
For example, James opens by addressing his letter to the Twelve tribes of the Diaspora. In otehr words the People of God Who Suffer for Their Faith. I think of myslef as one of God’s people, flawed perhaps, but of their number. I also suffer. But I’m not to sure if my suffering is for my faith or for my wavering. So I have doubts about applying James’ teaching to my own life.
Another reader response strategy I tend to use, I borrowed from George Fox. When I read, and I feel resistance welling within me, or any emoptive response. I look to where it originates. I seek to interpret that resistance as much or more as the scriptural text before me.
How do you read the scriptures? What helps you in this work?