An Excerpt from Exploring the Bible by Eric Barreto and Michael Chan
We never read the Bible by ourselves.
Even if you go on a long hike to the middle of nowhere and camp under the stars away from cell phone signals and the noises of the city, you are not alone when you read the Bible.
Even if you are on a silent retreat in a monastic setting, you are not alone when you read the Bible. Even if you hide in a closet and shut the rest of the world away, you are not alone when you read the Bible.
No matter where you are, you are not reading the Bible by yourself because we always carry with us traditions and cultures and relationships and experiences that have shaped us. Some of that shaping we can recognize easily and understand.
We are aware of some of the biases we carry, some of the prejudices that shape our reading of these ancient texts, even if we would prefer not to admit them.
However, much of our molding as people and readers happens more subtly, entering our reading of the Bible in ways that might not be visible to us. There are assumptions we bear that we cannot identify, fear identifying, or incorrectly deem an advantage instead of an obstacle.
To use biblical language, we always read as part of a “great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1) who accompany us at every turn of the page.