Homework, housework, and hermeneutics
This is Part 8 of my personal reflection series My quest – 30 years and counting. You can read my introduction here.
I really didn’t want to go…I remember that distinctly. Bible study? I’m not ready for that yet, I thought. Though I had been reading the Bible with my neighbor when we’d get together, going to a Bible study seemed weird. I probably imagined a bunch of old biddies in dresses and hats pouring over their King James Bibles, parsing out verses like, “Wives, submit thyselves unto thine own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.”
But my neighbor knew the natural next step in my quest was to “know whom I have believed” so she persuaded me to come to the study she had been attending. And I was relieved to walk in the room and see so much hair (i.e. young women and no hats). And though I brought a King James because that’s what my neighbor gave me, I discovered there were other translations a little less archaic in language. And that these women, many of whom were as young as I was, were so hungry to know God that they were committing not only to coming together once a week to discuss what his word says, but to spending an hour a day five days a week on homework.
Here’s what was even more surprising to me: I quickly realized how starved I was, and like a poor beggar needed no prompting to eat it up. Whereas in my “old” life I had zero interest in reading the Bible, now I found myself intrigued by its claims of divine origin and supreme truth value and excited about mining its wealth. With my little ones in tow I went eagerly to the meetings, and at home while they napped I regretfully (yeah, right) chose homework over housework as I faithfully completed each day’s assignment. My neighbor would later tell others that I was like a sponge.
Looking back now I see the hand of God in dropping me into an in-depth Bible study right from the start. Because though we all need to read, study, learn and absorb his word, he doesn’t call all of us to teach it, as I believe he has me. So that as a babe (not that kind of babe) in Christ I was already being schooled in hermeneutics. I was learning about observation before interpretation, literary genres, and the different tenses, voices, and moods of verbs. I was picking out key words, making book charts and diagrams, studying the historical context, and being well-trained in the preeminent requirement of good Bible study – textual context. As the author of these studies liked to say, “A text without a context is a pretext.”
So there I was, learning and growing in my faith, going to church and Bible study, and becoming increasingly aware of changes in my interests and desires. But though I knew what was going on in me was good and right, I had someone at home who wasn’t so sure.