The Quest of Reading a Book
THE QUEST OF READING A BOOK
Systematic reading of a book is very important to anyone who wants to understand and apply the book into his or her life. What most people lack is the kind of methods to be used in knowing how to read a book? Adler in his book has given the systematic way of reading a book for understanding, reflection and bearing in mind the goals to be achieved. He has also explained the different approaches to different kinds of reading matter. This does shape the reader in knowing the kind of book being read and its interpretations or use in life.
I was reminded of how I used to read a book in my mother tongue in lower classes thus grade one. I could read without understanding it but only to show that I know how to read and not be caned by my mother or teacher. While in school the teacher also demanded that we know how to read and at the end of the term we had an exam that would qualify us to proceed to another class. It was motivating only to be given one hundred percent for reading a paragraph or chapter fluently. While at home during evening preparations for the next day in class, my mother would do some tuition on reading assignments only to remind me of how to read and ask questions to find out whether I had understood what was read. However, it was a process of knowing how to pronounce words in our mother tongue. In grade four I would try to pronounce the words but in the accent of my mother tongue. In grade six, I now began to read and somehow understand the content. It was a process to conceptualize the content and the intent of the author.
Later, in my schooling in upper grade, I began reading to understand the content of the book and many other things began to unfold, whereby we would now read to understand, analyze or think critically because at the end of each reading there was an exam. In our education system we have English as a course which does have a section on comprehension reading and answering questions only to test understanding. They also teach grammar and sentence constructions. It is also done in our colleges and universities today.
In our Bible colleges, we have a unit in Biblical interpretation and theological Texts, which deals with knowing how to interpret a passage with an intention of discovering the original intended meaning by the author. In the ministry, we experience problems in doing proper exegesis of a text hence preaching heresies due to failing to read to understand the context and proper interpretation of the text. Our students have problems in understanding the context of a given book and interpreting it becomes hard for them in ministry and even in schools and colleges. This has led to our students not being stable in their education and propagation of the same to the next generation.
As a lecturer in Biblical Interpretation, the book is very important to the understanding of the Bible and its interpretation. The procedures and description of the steps used in applying the technics of reading to understand is applicable in Bible interpretation. The bible has to be understood and interpreted in its context and it includes observing the text critically, analyzing, and being reflective. In terms of communication, the book gives us some hints on how to hear the other person while communicating. The words and kind of sentences being used has caused most people to misunderstand each other in communication. It also calls for proper listening while reading a book, hearing the words of the redactor so as to understand the context of what is being communicated. Our students need to be advised on the kind of books that can help them develop their ability of either reading or using the book for future integration
The book deals with significant areas that can be useful to hermeneutical interpretations by Pastors and teachers of the word of God. The areas that can be of help in hermeneutics from the book includes: Lexical syntax, grammar- when dealing with language. Analyzing the mood of words used is vital for exegesis; Contextual analysis, Literary Reading, Analytical reading, and the setting of arguments. This is a text that can be used as a reference in other courses like metaphysics, logic and critical thinking, though at an advanced level of education thus colleges and universities.
Reading has also to be done with set goals in mind and know the importance of the book being read and on the market. Some books have been written to help people in different areas of their study, which may be practical in the sense of helping the reader to understand the area with keen interest. Other books have been written for leisure and some have misled some young adults because they do not know how to get the context, content and the intentions of the author.
I highly recommend the book to be read by students of the Bible and anyone who deals with interpretation of the Bible. In addition, for anyone reading any kind of a book should go through this book for proper understanding and interpretation. There are times when we waste time with reading books for the sake of counting how many books we read in a year. However, we can still read for luxury or to enjoy the book but not to remember anything.
I wish the book was given earlier than this; it would have helped me in developing for my lessons in class. For ministry work the book has helped me to understand how to communicate in reference to my listeners or the audience. Words we use in communicating should be selected carefully because of the audience. And knowing the type of words being used in communicating is vital.
Thanks to my lecturers for choosing this book for use in our reading, it was the right time. It is going to help me develop more from it.
5 responses to “The Quest of Reading a Book”
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The Bible is a fascinating read for me because of the variety of genres represented, and yet so many people take a singular approach to reading Scripture. When people are taught to read the Bible for greater understanding- historical and cultural context, theological meaning, and application to current reality- they receive a much greater gift. How do you think Adler might be a helpful resource in your future teaching?
Simon…I echo John’s sentiments here. Very appreciative of your connection of Adler’s text the importance of reading and studying Scripture well in preparation for the preaching moment. From a Western context, so much of the teaching/preaching reflects opinions and biases steeped in thoughtlessness (and terrible study habits). Your approach to exegesis is necessary over here!
Adler’s approach to reading a Book does explain the steps to be taken in reading to understand the author’s intended meaning. His approach is worthy emanating in Bible Interpretation
@Jer, thanks for your comment. The challenge would be the contexts from which we come from. However Adler’s book does explain clearly how read a Book. I like it
Sometimes I forget how hard it must be when learning a language other than your mother tongue. I can only imagine how hard it must be to try to tackle biblical Hebrew or Greek when many of the helps associated with each one are written in english. Adler does place a great deal of responsibility on the reader to understand the authors intent and meaning of a text. The challenge with scripture often comes when we fail to realize that each author had a specific audience and message in mind as well as using a language that is no longer used today. Our 21st century minds and understandings of culture often lead us down roads the author never intended his audience to go. Thank God for all the scholars that have come before us and for the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit who enables us to understand.