Reasons for Not Reading the Bible

| | Comments (2)

In an interesting series of posts at Disputations, Tom discusses the importance of reading the Bible. In the comments there are a variety of reasons given for not doing so. Among the most curious to me was that reading the Bible was hard.

Tom seemed to understand immediately what was meant by this. To me it was nearly a foreign language. Reading the Bible has never been difficult for me. But I also think I know the reason why.

Pardon me if I spend a few moments sharing too much information about my family. My Grandpa Riddle (I can't really speak to Grandma's case so well) never graduated High School. I think he got an eighth grade education before he had to start working to help support the family. (I remember how proud he was when he got his GED at the age of 80, as though somehow a life of building houses and churches was not enough.) I don't know about the educational level of my grandparents on my Mother's side of the family, but I suspect they graduated high school.

The translations of the Bible available to my grandparents were limited in number and even more limited by tradition. Limited, in fact, to one--the KJV. Now, people who complain about the difficulty of reading the Bible should try the KJV or other close approximations of foreign languages. The USCCB has done its level best to produce the most cacophonous, least coherent and lovely translation ever to assault the eyes and eardrums of humanity, but there are translations out there even more tone-deaf and less euphonious. The point is, my 8th grade educated grandfather and my high-school educated grandparents not only had these bibles, but they read them--every day of their lives.

I had occasion to go and stay with my grandmother to help her around the house and get her to appointments while my grandfather was in the hospital recovering from surgery. During times in the hospital waiting room, when she wasn't lifting the spirits of other visitors, she was rapt in her Bible.

One time my Grandpa S was saying something about the Blessed Virgin (this upon learning that I had wholeheartedly joined the Catholic Church) and my grandmother quoted chapter and verse.

Grandpa, "There's nothing so great about Mary."

Grandma, "Now, Oscar (her pet name for him, you know it says right there in the Good Book itself, 'Hail thou that art highly favored, Blessed art thou among women. . .'Cain't see any way around that making her special. The good book says so."

For any occasion their first recourse was the rich treasury of scripture that they had read, memorized, internalized, and to some degree lived. Both of my grandfathers could give long, and I pleased to say that subsequent research revealed, largely correct talks about the historical background of the books of the Bible, and understood clearly what is often unclear to me in Paul's letters. I remember an old Riddle (pardon the pun) that Grandpa Riddle posed me--"Who was the oldest man who ever lived that died before his father did?"

Admittedly, they had a very literal understanding of the Bible which was not open to discussion or probing. But understand, they did. More importantly, they read, and they didn't just parrot back the words.

What I want to reemphasize is that this was the KJV, Jacobean English, nearly a foreign language to us today. It was not "too hard" for them to do. They found no problem at all in reading it daily.

My purpose is not to make anyone feel bad about saying, "It's hard to read the Bible." There are so many ways that is true. But if it is a priority, what is hard becomes easy, "My yoke is easy, my burden light."

My point in recording this is to remind me, when I'm busy making excuses for why I don't get around to it as often as I would like that it isn't particularly difficult as a task, only as an obligation. The trick is to ask for the grace to turn an obligation into an invitation and to accept as frequently as possible that invitation.

My grandparents wouldn't have thought of facing the day without "being in the word." In a similar way, I would do well to make it the number one priority, rather than number six, seven, ten, fourteen, or dead last. My grandparents leaned upon it as a staff of life and I can still recall my Grandpa saying, "man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD." Perhaps I would do well to have a little less bread and a bit more WORD.

Bookmark and Share


That was a delightful read! I loved reading about Grandpa and Grandma Riddle. Thanks for sharing and God bless you! (How about answering the Riddle for me?)

Finally got a chance to read this and it was delightful ... as well as quite edifying. Methinks we dost baby ourselves too much.

I know that you have many versions of the Bible. Which is your favorite "daily read" version?



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 8, 2006 7:14 PM.

The Colorado Kid Stephen King was the previous entry in this blog.

I Probably Shouldn't Like It as Much as I Do is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll