Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A New Bible Story! -- by Clint

Not long after I met Debbie and decided that I wanted to enter full-time ministry (this was back when I was a protestant), I realized that it was foolish for me to stand in front of a church group, telling them what the scriptures had to say about some issue or the other. The reason that this thought entered my mind was because I had never read the entire Bible before. Not even once.

I was a preacher’s kid, but somehow I had eluded actually reading the book from cover to cover. For those who know me well, that might come as surprising. I read just about everything I can, whenever I can. But for some reason, the Bible had escaped my in depth perusal.

So I decided to rectify that situation. Imagine my surprise as the stories unfolded from the pages as I moved from book to book. Granted, I knew most of the stories from Genesis and Exodus. OK, Leviticus is not so much a story as a “how to” book for everything from sacrifices to cleaning leprosy from your house. But by the time I got to the book of Judges, I was blown away by how many of the stories in that book I had never heard before.

I won’t go into detail about some of them because they are not G rated. In fact, if they made some of those stories into movies, our kids couldn’t go without an adult present, if at all. (That might suggest why they were overlooked in Sunday School). Needless to say, I was glad that I finally read the stories. Not because of the content, but because I was finally learning the “fullness” of the faith.

It has been quite a long time since that occurred. I have read the Protestant version of the Bible several times. The initial thrill of learning a new Biblical story has long since worn off.

Well, until I opened my Orthodox Study Bible (OSB). OK, OK, I have had it for awhile now. I ordered it as soon as the full Bible version was released. I even got it in leather. Now, I have tons of new stories to read. Some are old stories that I already knew, but have a slight twist due to the change brought about because the Orthodox Old Testament is based upon the Septuagint. But I also have entire books of the Bible to read that I never read before.

I had already read the Maccabees (actually the first 4 of them) before I became Orthodox. But Baruch never made it on my radar. Neither did Judith, Tobit, Bel and the Dragon, etc. Imagine the joy that I am finding when I open the books of my OSB and read a new, fresh word preserved by God! It is fantastic.

Not only do I have the Orthodox version of the Bible, but I have centuries of Church Fathers to immerse myself in. The various saints preserved wonderful and edifying words for us to read, study and absorb.

As much as I have enjoyed my adventure in Orthodoxy so far, I can’t help but think that the best is yet to come. With all of these wonderful stories set before me, how could it not be?


Isabel said...

When I first heard Fr Matthew on Eastern v. Western salvation theology I was blown away. So many texts to see in a whole (and I do mean integrated) new way. Thanks be to God for all things.

rjhargrav said...

When I first got my OSB Old Testament I was so excited that I read all the Books of Maccabees... still haven't read more, though...

Jason E. said...

Several years before the OSB Septuagint (i.e., Orthodoxy's version of the Old Testament) came out, I found a partial Septuagint at an estate sale for a recently deceased Anglican priest. I had the exact same feeling of excitement Fr. James describes, knowing that I was reading parts of God's Word, real stories, that no one had ever shown me before! BTW, I just finished the OSB's Wisdom of Sirach on Friday. Pretty amazing.