Read Your Bible Imaginatively

***As I progress through my doctoral program I will be placing some of my work on here. Please feel free to engage with me in the learning process and seeking greater depth in understanding of leadership, scripture, and life.

Question: Is the gift of creativity a problem in studying scripture?

I would like to propose it is a gift and a responsibility to use creativity when looking at scripture.  More accurately, when creativity is used as imagination in seeing what is being read it can heighten understanding of the story of scripture.

When we read scripture, it is imperative to place ourselves into the context of the passages, creating an image in our mind’s eye.  This “image is not…psychic content…but rather a relational and intentional activity of consciousness.” (De Preester, 2012, p. 505)  The use of imagination can be an act of relationship building and can serve as an effective way of getting in touch with the Father.  Scripture is an ancient text and there is a great divide between the world of scripture and the world of the reader.  N.K Gottwald (1959) wrote, “Adequate understanding of the Old Testament is achieved only by imagination and disciplined study.” (p. 1) How would the experience of engaging scripture change if every reader entered exegesis with a healthy imagination?

The concern is that approaching scripture with a healthy imagination could lead to creating realities that are not actually intended to be found in scripture.  This is an understandable concern, but it should cause the reader to be cautious rather than abstaining from using creativity.  De Hulster (2010) instructed that “imagination-together with disciplined study-should also be employed to lead to an adequate understanding of the texts.” (p. 115)  He goes further writing “imagination introduces new elements which either corroborate or contradict the status quo; methodologically sound procedures should decide whether these elements are rightfully assumed.” (2010, p.116)

References

De Hulster, I. J. (2010). Imagination: A Hermeneutical Tool for the Study of the Hebrew Bible. Biblical Interpretation, 18(2), 114–136.
De Preester, H. (2012). The Sensory Component of Imagination: The Motor Theory of Imagination as a Present-Day Solution to Sartre’s Critique. Philosophical Psychology, 25(4), 503–520.
Gottwald, N. K. (2009). A Light to the Nations: An Introduction to the Old Testament. Wipf & Stock Pub.
Hartman, G. (2013). Theology and the Imagination. Jewish Quarterly Review, 103(2), 156–168.


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