The very idea of FRESH READ is that we each need to read the scriptures for ourselves. Does that indicate that comparing notes with others is cheating?
Let’s compare this to study groups. It is a popular idea in education that students do well to work in groups. Part of the reasoning is that in the workplace, most of us have to work with others.
If you come to a study group without having done your part, you are dead weight. You add nothing to the process of learning and discovery. However if you contribute your own analysis and thought, you are a benefit to the group.
So, we can benefit from comparing notes with others. This can come in several forms:
- I am in a book group with other pastors, and we just decided to study the Abraham section of Genesis (Gen 12 -25). We will present our study of the text and our ideas for preaching to each other.
- Bible Study groups can be like this, assuming the text is actually being studied. Watch out for sessions where we listen to the teacher only, or when we talk in ignorance of the text.
- The authors of sermons, commentaries, articles and books can be viewed like this. If you only read their views without studying and forming your own ideas, then your read is STALE, not FRESH.
- Sometimes authors from other centuries or distant cultures can teach us the most about our cultural blind-spots.
- Footnotes in bibles should be read this way – not the last word, but as a study partner.
To switch to another analogy, others can prepare the meal, but I still have to eat it. It is not a FRESH READ if I only accept the work of others without taking it in with reflection.