Read Jean Johnson’s ‘Bible Journey’ and how she’s celebrated the Scriptures in her life.
A few days ago I received with a letter from Bible Society a postcard attractively displaying 2 Timothy 3:16. I was thrilled because my father had written this and the preceding verse in the first Bible I had at the age of seven:
2 Tim.3:15 ‘And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.’ (AV/KJV)
The reason for knowing the Bible is in verse 16: Scripture is inspired by God and useful in many ways, as the postcard says, including ‘instructions for right living’. My upbringing was evangelical: my father and grandfather between them were lay preachers for over 100 years. Whilst older people would respond automatically if you asked ‘9×7’ and older Catholics would do the same if you asked ‘Who made you?’ I would respond if asked numerous texts e.g. John 3:16. All of them would, of course, be in the AV, because that is the Bible we had in my youth. Nowadays I use the NRSV and am so pleased that is the translation used in The God Who Speaks quotations.
It was love of the Bible that led me to become a Catholic. I enrolled on a New Testament Greek course then various other courses including one on the Early Church. Like Newman, who also had an Evangelical youth, it was going back to the Fathers that made me realise that it was the Catholic Church that was the continuation from biblical days. So, whilst I cannot recite the Penny Catechism, I am so grateful for my knowledge of the Bible.
I agree with the brochure that reading in church helps ‘to develop a regular love and understanding of the Scriptures’. Just recently, I read Colossians 1:15-20 at Mass. This is such a fantastic Christological passage. Proclaiming that ‘Christ Jesus is the image of the unseen God ….Before anything was created, he existed’ is mind blowing and I just wanted to proclaim it so that others might see the wonder of what God has done in Christ Jesus. More than that, it made me want to get home to look up some detailed commentary on the passage.
This year we shall have help with understanding the Gospel of Matthew. I am pleased because it is the one Gospel I have never studied in any detail. My favourite is John, partly because I had to study it in Greek but mainly because I think it is so clever. In just 14 verses the Prologue moves from proclaiming that ‘the Word was God’ John 1:1 (NRSV), through introducing us to John the Baptist, to that statement unbelievable to Jews and Greeks but to us a key part of our faith: ‘The Word became flesh and lived among us’ John 1:14 (NRSV). More than that, key words such as light, darkness and glory appear too in these verses.
St Jerome rightly said that ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. Let us pray that studying Scripture this year will bring us closer to Christ.
By Jean M Johnson.