As a pastor I give a great deal of reflection to how I live with Scripture, how I read and interpret it, and apply it to life. I believe how we live with Scripture is indicative to how we live with the God who has revealed it to us. If we exercise little reflection upon its nature, message, complexity, and beauty we probably are as equally disinterested in the one who has given it to us. Pastors who lead the body locally as they deal with Scripture should model sobriety and sensitivity in how they read scripture.  They should express great care and reflection as they consider how God’s story can speak to their own as well as their communities. 

Along those lines I wanted to share some thoughts by Duke professor, Richard Hays, regarding how Paul himself may have lived with Scripture. I wish that more pastors, church planters, and academic theologians would live with Scripture the way Paul did

First, Paul’s interpretation of Scripture is always a pastoral, community-forming activity. His readings are not merely flights of imaginative virtuosity; rather, they seek to shape the identity and actions of a community called by God to be bearers of grace.

Second, Paul’s readings of Scripture are poetic in character. He finds in Scripture a rich source of image and metaphor that enables him to declare with power what God is doing in the world in his own time.

Third, as the previous observation suggests, Paul reads Scripture narratively. It is not for him merely a repository of isolated proof texts; rather, it is the saga of God’s election, judgment, and redemption of a people through time.

Fourth, the fulfillment of those promises has taken an entirely unexpected turn because of the world-shattering apocalyptic event of the crucifixion and resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus…Paul seeks to teach his readers to read Scripture eschatologically…

Finally, Paul reads Scripture trustingly. He believes that Scripture discloses a God who loves us and can be trusted, in his righteousness, to keep his promises and to save us. Thus, he always comes to the reading of Israel’s Scripture with the expectation that he will find there is a word of deep grace.

The Conversion of the Imagination: Paul as interpreter of Israel’s Scripture – Richard Hays

What are the thoughts, criticisms, or possible additions you would make to Hays’s list…

(Photographic art by Sayzey, piece entitled “Echo Tunnel“)