At singing practice, I wondered if David would recognise the 23rd Psalm as we sang it. Originally written and sung in Hebrew, I could not help but wonder what was lost and added in translation as we took an ancient shepherd’s tune and turned into an anthem of resilient faith in adversity. Are the emotions and thoughts that it evokes in us the same as those that the shepherd plucked from his heart and wove into it? How true are we to the original and does it even matter?
There exists a gulf between the original meaning of scripture and its contemporary understanding and application. The exegete and laity are often at odds, tugging the text between each other, each seeking ascendancy over the other. How can the gulf be bridged? Must the laity abdicate in favour of the exegete’s stringent dissection and contextual analysis of the text or ought the exegete choose silence in the face of abundant faith and rich experience flowing from a devotional reading and application of the text?
Both have merit. In their spheres. To paraphrase one scholar: what God reveals to you in your house, is great and wonderful but if we are to apply it in our lives, we will need more than that. Ultimately, the Bible is only effective if we hear God’s voice in it. The scholar’s work is an aid in bringing certain things to our attention by bridging the gulf between the world in the Bible and the Bible in the world but it is listening to God’s voice in the Bible that bridges the gulf between us and Him.
What can I say? The Lord is my Shepherd!
photo credit: han&tanja There’s something happening here / What it is ain’t exactly clear…. via photopin (license)