I wrote this four months ago on my former blog, along with a few others on Scripture. I want to add to these in the next few weeks.
For awhile now, I have been a person of diminished appetites. Slowly, however, they have been returning. One of the last things to return has been interest in my blog. I’ve simply been uninterested in writing anything, in creating anything. I’ve thought about taking it down or starting something new. But mostly I’ve simply been searching for something worth writing.
So, this might be just for today, but here goes. A modest post, but one I think with big implications. Texts don’t just hold meaning, they create it. And this is especially true for sacred texts. Surely part of what sets a sacred text apart from others is its capacity continually to create meaning.
Texts do hold meanings. 1 Peter, for instance, is a certain text. It is not another one. It has certain words and certain ideas presented in a certain order. It can’t mean just anything. But it can create multiple meanings as well. As any author knows, a text also has a relationship with a reader or group of readers, and not just the original readers. It’s meanings are not limited to the intention of the author or the circumstances of the first readers. 1 Peter spoke powerfully to me when I was in 7th grade, and it spoke to me in the particularity of my circumstances that were simply not anticipated by the author. 1 Peter created meaning for me. It spoke into my life. It has a living voice.
I’ll simply say at this point that I wasn’t taught to think about the Bible this way. I was taught to isolate one meaning of the text, to trap it and make it hold still, to make it say only what the author intended for it to say, to curtail its ability to make meaning. And this, I think, was wrong.