Sunday, November 8, 2009

Faux pas

Some of my Russian friends recently brought up the topic of reading your Bible in public transportation. Apparently, in Orthodox culture, it is frowned upon.

Various arguments:
-you are doing your spiritual works “before men” (as the Pharisees)
-you are not giving proper respect to the Word of God, by opening it in such a place
-you have clearly not set aside a separate time for reading and meditating on the Word, since you are reading in while in transit

I was a little surprised by the discussion, but I realized that Americans are very casual in general about such things. I never think twice about where I place my Bible, how I write in it, when/where I read it, etc. Obviously I think about what works the best for me, but it is rare that I consider how it looks to others or to someone from another culture. I was chastised once by a Russian friend for putting my Bible in the bag with my change of shoes on the home way from church. Oops! more/-

It’s possible that Russian Orthodoxy is closer to the Jewish culture in this regard. But in American Protestant churches, ritual purity is rarely observed.

I was riding in the metro recently and the man opposite me opened a book and was reading intently. As far as I could tell, it was a Muslim calendar or book of prayer. “That’s it,” I thought. “If the Muslims can do it, so can we.” And I decided that I was going to read my Bible after all. Why shouldn’t I use the time to receive a little edification?

Today I was reading 1 Timothy 4 and came across the following (verse 13): “Give attention to public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and reading.” AHA. I opened up my Russian Bible to the parallel verse, and found…it says only “reading.” According to Bauer’s Greek-English Lexicon, “Anagnosis” does in fact mean public reading-but in the synagogue.

I am not sure what I learned from this little exploration, but at least I dusted off my Greek NT. :)


  1. Нужно вернуться к традиции первого века - чтению вслух. Тогда все в общественных местах не только будут видеть, что мы читаем Библию, но и слышать это! :)))


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