Tag Archives: reading the Bible

The Rape of Dinah (help understanding a troubling bible passage)

One story in the Bible has be a source of inquiry, and much confusion. It is the story most often called “the rape of Dinah.”

Most English translations offer a poor rendering of the Hebrew. Here is the story in English and Hebrew, along with a write up of the passage by Jon Dorsey, Old Testament studies graduate student, and son of David Dorsey PhD a foremost Hebrew and Old Testament scholar. (you can wiki him here)

Genesis Chapter 34 בְּרֵאשִׁית

א וַתֵּצֵא דִינָה בַּת-לֵאָה, אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה לְיַעֲקֹב, לִרְאוֹת, בִּבְנוֹת הָאָרֶץ. 1 And Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.
ב וַיַּרְא אֹתָהּ שְׁכֶם בֶּן-חֲמוֹר, הַחִוִּי–נְשִׂיא הָאָרֶץ; וַיִּקַּח אֹתָהּ וַיִּשְׁכַּב אֹתָהּ, וַיְעַנֶּהָ. 2 And Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her; and he took her, and lay with her, and humbled her.
ג וַתִּדְבַּק נַפְשׁוֹ, בְּדִינָה בַּת-יַעֲקֹב; וַיֶּאֱהַב, אֶת-הַנַּעֲרָ, וַיְדַבֵּר, עַל-לֵב הַנַּעֲרָ. 3 And his soul did cleave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spoke comfortingly unto the damsel.
ד וַיֹּאמֶר שְׁכֶם, אֶל-חֲמוֹר אָבִיו לֵאמֹר:  קַח-לִי אֶת-הַיַּלְדָּה הַזֹּאת, לְאִשָּׁה. 4 And Shechem spoke unto his father Hamor, saying: ‘Get me this damsel to wife.’
ה וְיַעֲקֹב שָׁמַע, כִּי טִמֵּא אֶת-דִּינָה בִתּוֹ, וּבָנָיו הָיוּ אֶת-מִקְנֵהוּ, בַּשָּׂדֶה; וְהֶחֱרִשׁ יַעֲקֹב, עַד-בֹּאָם. 5 Now Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter; and his sons were with his cattle in the field; and Jacob held his peace until they came.
ו וַיֵּצֵא חֲמוֹר אֲבִי-שְׁכֶם, אֶל-יַעֲקֹב, לְדַבֵּר, אִתּוֹ. 6 And Hamor the father of Shechem went out unto Jacob to speak with him.
ז וּבְנֵי יַעֲקֹב בָּאוּ מִן-הַשָּׂדֶה, כְּשָׁמְעָם, וַיִּתְעַצְּבוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים, וַיִּחַר לָהֶם מְאֹד:  כִּי-נְבָלָה עָשָׂה בְיִשְׂרָאֵל, לִשְׁכַּב אֶת-בַּת-יַעֲקֹב, וְכֵן, לֹא יֵעָשֶׂה. 7 And the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought a vile deed in Israel in lying with Jacob’s daughter; which thing ought not to be done.
ח וַיְדַבֵּר חֲמוֹר, אִתָּם לֵאמֹר:  שְׁכֶם בְּנִי, חָשְׁקָה נַפְשׁוֹ בְּבִתְּכֶם–תְּנוּ נָא אֹתָהּ לוֹ, לְאִשָּׁה. 8 And Hamor spoke with them, saying ‘The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter. I pray you give her unto him to wife.
ט וְהִתְחַתְּנוּ, אֹתָנוּ:  בְּנֹתֵיכֶם, תִּתְּנוּ-לָנוּ, וְאֶת-בְּנֹתֵינוּ, תִּקְחוּ לָכֶם. 9 And make ye marriages with us; give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you.
י וְאִתָּנוּ, תֵּשֵׁבוּ; וְהָאָרֶץ, תִּהְיֶה לִפְנֵיכֶם–שְׁבוּ וּסְחָרוּהָ, וְהֵאָחֲזוּ בָּהּ. 10 And ye shall dwell with us; and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade ye therein, and get you possessions therein.’
יא וַיֹּאמֶר שְׁכֶם אֶל-אָבִיהָ וְאֶל-אַחֶיהָ, אֶמְצָא-חֵן בְּעֵינֵיכֶם; וַאֲשֶׁר תֹּאמְרוּ אֵלַי, אֶתֵּן. 11 And Shechem said unto her father and unto her brethren: ‘Let me find favour in your eyes, and what ye shall say unto me I will give.
יב הַרְבּוּ עָלַי מְאֹד, מֹהַר וּמַתָּן, וְאֶתְּנָה, כַּאֲשֶׁר תֹּאמְרוּ אֵלָי; וּתְנוּ-לִי אֶת-הַנַּעֲרָ, לְאִשָּׁה. 12 Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as ye shall say unto me; but give me the damsel to wife.’
יג וַיַּעֲנוּ בְנֵי-יַעֲקֹב אֶת-שְׁכֶם וְאֶת-חֲמוֹר אָבִיו, בְּמִרְמָה–וַיְדַבֵּרוּ:  אֲשֶׁר טִמֵּא, אֵת דִּינָה אֲחֹתָם. 13 And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father with guile, and spoke, because he had defiled Dinah their sister,
יד וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֲלֵיהֶם, לֹא נוּכַל לַעֲשׂוֹת הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה–לָתֵת אֶת-אֲחֹתֵנוּ, לְאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר-לוֹ עָרְלָה:  כִּי-חֶרְפָּה הִוא, לָנוּ. 14 and said unto them: ‘We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that were a reproach unto us.
טו אַךְ-בְּזֹאת, נֵאוֹת לָכֶם:  אִם תִּהְיוּ כָמֹנוּ, לְהִמֹּל לָכֶם כָּל-זָכָר. 15 Only on this condition will we consent unto you: if ye will be as we are, that every male of you be circumcised;
טז וְנָתַנּוּ אֶת-בְּנֹתֵינוּ לָכֶם, וְאֶת-בְּנֹתֵיכֶם נִקַּח-לָנוּ; וְיָשַׁבְנוּ אִתְּכֶם, וְהָיִינוּ לְעַם אֶחָד. 16 then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people.
יז וְאִם-לֹא תִשְׁמְעוּ אֵלֵינוּ, לְהִמּוֹל–וְלָקַחְנוּ אֶת-בִּתֵּנוּ, וְהָלָכְנוּ. 17 But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone.’
יח וַיִּיטְבוּ דִבְרֵיהֶם, בְּעֵינֵי חֲמוֹר, וּבְעֵינֵי, שְׁכֶם בֶּן-חֲמוֹר. 18 And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem Hamor’s son.
יט וְלֹא-אֵחַר הַנַּעַר לַעֲשׂוֹת הַדָּבָר, כִּי חָפֵץ בְּבַת-יַעֲקֹב; וְהוּא נִכְבָּד, מִכֹּל בֵּית אָבִיו. 19 And the young man deferred not to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob’s daughter. And he was honoured above all the house of his father.
כ וַיָּבֹא חֲמוֹר וּשְׁכֶם בְּנוֹ, אֶל-שַׁעַר עִירָם; וַיְדַבְּרוּ אֶל-אַנְשֵׁי עִירָם, לֵאמֹר. 20 And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and spoke with the men of their city, saying:
כא הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה שְׁלֵמִים הֵם אִתָּנוּ, וְיֵשְׁבוּ בָאָרֶץ וְיִסְחֲרוּ אֹתָהּ, וְהָאָרֶץ הִנֵּה רַחֲבַת-יָדַיִם, לִפְנֵיהֶם; אֶת-בְּנֹתָם נִקַּח-לָנוּ לְנָשִׁים, וְאֶת-בְּנֹתֵינוּ נִתֵּן לָהֶם. 21 ‘These men are peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for, behold, the land is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters.
כב אַךְ-בְּזֹאת יֵאֹתוּ לָנוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים, לָשֶׁבֶת אִתָּנוּ–לִהְיוֹת, לְעַם אֶחָד:  בְּהִמּוֹל לָנוּ כָּל-זָכָר, כַּאֲשֶׁר הֵם נִמֹּלִים. 22 Only on this condition will the men consent unto us to dwell with us, to become one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they are circumcised.
כג מִקְנֵהֶם וְקִנְיָנָם וְכָל-בְּהֶמְתָּם, הֲלוֹא לָנוּ הֵם; אַךְ נֵאוֹתָה לָהֶם, וְיֵשְׁבוּ אִתָּנוּ. 23 Shall not their cattle and their substance and all their beasts be ours? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us.’
כד וַיִּשְׁמְעוּ אֶל-חֲמוֹר וְאֶל-שְׁכֶם בְּנוֹ, כָּל-יֹצְאֵי שַׁעַר עִירוֹ; וַיִּמֹּלוּ, כָּל-זָכָר–כָּל-יֹצְאֵי, שַׁעַר עִירוֹ. 24 And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city.
כה וַיְהִי בַיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי בִּהְיוֹתָם כֹּאֲבִים, וַיִּקְחוּ שְׁנֵי-בְנֵי-יַעֲקֹב שִׁמְעוֹן וְלֵוִי אֲחֵי דִינָה אִישׁ חַרְבּוֹ, וַיָּבֹאוּ עַל-הָעִיר, בֶּטַח; וַיַּהַרְגוּ, כָּל-זָכָר. 25 And it came to pass on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city unawares, and slew all the males.
כו וְאֶת-חֲמוֹר וְאֶת-שְׁכֶם בְּנוֹ, הָרְגוּ לְפִי-חָרֶב; וַיִּקְחוּ אֶת-דִּינָה מִבֵּית שְׁכֶם, וַיֵּצֵאוּ. 26 And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went forth.
כז בְּנֵי יַעֲקֹב, בָּאוּ עַל-הַחֲלָלִים, וַיָּבֹזּוּ, הָעִיר–אֲשֶׁר טִמְּאוּ, אֲחוֹתָם. 27 The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.
כח אֶת-צֹאנָם וְאֶת-בְּקָרָם, וְאֶת-חֲמֹרֵיהֶם, וְאֵת אֲשֶׁר-בָּעִיר וְאֶת-אֲשֶׁר בַּשָּׂדֶה, לָקָחוּ. 28 They took their flocks and their herds and their asses, and that which was in the city and that which was in the field;
כט וְאֶת-כָּל-חֵילָם וְאֶת-כָּל-טַפָּם וְאֶת-נְשֵׁיהֶם, שָׁבוּ וַיָּבֹזּוּ; וְאֵת, כָּל-אֲשֶׁר בַּבָּיִת. 29 and all their wealth, and all their little ones and their wives, took they captive and spoiled, even all that was in the house.
ל וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב אֶל-שִׁמְעוֹן וְאֶל-לֵוִי, עֲכַרְתֶּם אֹתִי, לְהַבְאִישֵׁנִי בְּיֹשֵׁב הָאָרֶץ, בַּכְּנַעֲנִי וּבַפְּרִזִּי; וַאֲנִי, מְתֵי מִסְפָּר, וְנֶאֶסְפוּ עָלַי וְהִכּוּנִי, וְנִשְׁמַדְתִּי אֲנִי וּבֵיתִי. 30 And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi: ‘Ye have troubled me, to make me odious unto the inhabitants of the land, even unto the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and, I being few in number, they will gather themselves together against me and smite me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.’
לא וַיֹּאמְרוּ:  הַכְזוֹנָה, יַעֲשֶׂה אֶת-אֲחוֹתֵנוּ.  {פ} 31 And they said: ‘Should one deal with our sister as with a harlot?’ {P} (text obtain here)

Response from
Jonathan Dorsey
November 10 at 10:36am

We recently talked about this in class. The clincher for seduction lies in a Hebrew word study, and a little knowledge of how Hebrew is used. The key to the word study lies in Deut. 23 – 28. The word translated “rape” or “sleep with” in each case – (Deut. & Genesis) are all the word shacav, which does not mean rape all by itself, but simply “to lie down (with)”. David and Bathsheba “shacav”ed…

Gen 34:2 Shechem took her, shacav’s her, and anah’d (violated) her.

Deut 22:23 – Man meets betrothed girl and shacav’s her and anah’d (violated) her in town – both die – man because he anah’d (violated) her, and the women because she did not scream out for help (meaning she wanted to shacav).

Deut 22:25 – Man meets betrothed girl in country – shacav’s her – she screams out for help, he hazak’s (overpowers) her.

Deut 22:28 – Man meets non-betrothed girl – shacav’s her anah’d (violated) her – they should marry. [He should pay the bride price to her family, to compensate them for their loss of a daughter, (who would now not be desired as a wife, traditionally) and he must care for her financially always.]

Like Hebrew in general, one is forced to look at the context of the verse to determine the the exact variation of a word that has multiple uses. It looks like the Dinah story matches with the cases of Deut.23 and 28. Because similar words to describe the events are used: the man shacav’s her, and anah’d (violates) her. The context in these three cases do not suggest force – In the case of Deut. 28, they are supposed to marry. This would be SICK if it were not a case of clear seduction. So if a women is shacav’d, and anah’d (violated), and no other word in the context suggest violence, force, or coercion, we are left with a Hebrew word phrasing that means seduction.

However, we see that Deut. 25 stands apart – we have a new word introduced – hazak (overpowers), and the fact that she screams for help – these are all context clues that the shacav-ing was clearly not consensual, and the man will die as if he committed murder.

The Dinah seduction has plenty of context clues in the wording to point to the fact that she was not raped. Shechem spoke tenderly to her, he asked her father for her as a wife, etc. In addition to our word study, we can see these statements as we are supposed to see them – as a man who has fallen in love with Dinah. His actions were wrong / dubious though – sleeping with her and not being married is a violation, and keeping her with him while they asked Jacob for his blessing for their marriage, etc.

Even though Dinah’s thoughts are never shared with the reader, it would be assumed that the writer would put something in to make it clear to the audience if it was not consensual (such as was done in Deut. 22:25). This is required for the Hebrew audience when the words used are ambiguous – such as shacav, which needs additional context clues to tell the reader what kind of shacav it was. He would have used the word hazak or the fact that she screamed or something. The author would not leave the audience with an ambiguous situation and not clarify if it was rape or seduction – the same word (shacav) is always used for both. With the context clues we have, and the fact the the same guy wrote both Deut. and Genesis and clearly drew apart stories/cases that showed the difference between rape and seduction, it seems fairly certain that Dinah is a case of seduction.

Sorry I messed up my references – Look in Deut 22:23-28!! Deut. 22:25 is the one that clearly is rape. Deut. 22:23 and 22:28 are talking about seduction.

Also, the word for “take” – lach – does in NO way suggest violence when Shechem “lached” Dinah. If it did, the author would need to reinforce that notion with some adverb or other wording in the sentence to make that clear. Since he does not, we are left to see this as simply “spirited away” or “stole away with her” or “took her to his crib” or something. 🙂 A Hebrew word study of using the verb “lach” in with a person as the verb receiver would be useful. I did so, and in every case I reviewd (the first 10) , it is not forced or done by overpowering. Abraham “lached” his wife and left to go to the land of Canaan. Lamach “lached” for himself two wives.

-Jon Dorsey

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Please leave any comments you have.

Response to Reader (New Age)

Delta asks:

I brought up the subject of Lectio Divina to my friend, thinking that we could use it together. Once a week we meet as prayer partners, and I thought this practice could be a really neat way to begin our time together. When I mentioned it, she hesitated and said it sounded like “New Age” stuff to her, not Christian, and it wasn’t in the Bible. She seemed really reluctant to give it a chance. What should I say to her, or should I let it go?

Lisa’s response:

The name “Lectio Divina” might do some of the scaring for your friend, but really the “Our Daily Bread” devotional is set up quite similarly to the basic movements of L.D. read, meditate, pray, rest/listen (or dwell/abide/apply) If it was just called “Reading with focused prayer”, maybe no one would care. The tradition of L. D. goes back to very early church times when the first manuscripts of scripture were made available, and Christians could read them out loud and ponder them, pray on them to God, and rest in God.

The nice fit for Evangelicals, for instance, as the major focus is on the Scripture, which Evangelicals LOVE. It puts the Bible in prominence for prayer, worship, and hearing from God. Meditation is Christian (of Yahweh). Personally, as someone in the Christian tradition, I refuse to let other religious/or spiritual sects rob me of what God has given us to grow, and adore and worship him. I think we are cheated to section off practices, used by other groups for other purposes, when they are there to use for our own loving of God. He is the object of our praise. He is our glory. The Christian tradition is rich with meaningful spiritual practices that may be less than cut and dry, or formulaic, but it doesn’t mean God hasn’t and doesn’t use them powerfully to change us into his likeness. The unfamiliar here is only unfamiliar to some, in our current culture and time. 

To be clear, I don’t submit that L.D. and contemplative ways, are a WAY to God, only one of many tools, or vehicles, available to ready our hearts for His good work.

The Contemplative part (movement 4) may be the hardest to understand for your friend, (i.e. most unfamiliar) because it’s more common in the Catholic tradition. Again, some like to think, and reason all spiritual actions out, and figure out the formula of it all. If it’s just being, and resting, enjoying God and listening…how can it be “working”? Where’s the doing part? What good could it REALLY be? So, I like to explain it as resting, and yielding to God. We learn our place. He is God, we are not. We are dependent on Him. We don’t have to *do*. That is the whole point. When we complete this discipline this way, the reorientation can be quite beneficial.

Should you bring it up again? Probably not if it’s a big stumbling block for her. I suggest you enjoy God privately with this enriching practice, and if you would really like to engage L. D. with another, send them here to learn about it, (do a search here for more on the topic) or explain it in terms that they might be more comfortable with, such as “Scripture Reading and Focused Prayer.” May God Bless you as you strive to walk closer to him.

prayer/scripture/meditation: Lectio Divina explained- Part II

illumin


This is an edited excerpt from a paper I did on this topic. It involved my  research of the discipline (history, background, and details), and personal use of the discipline, as well. I will be making a reference piece available that can be kept in one’s Bible, and used for personal or group purposes. (Please keep in mind the following is ©Lisa Colón DeLay, 2008, and cannot be reproduced in any form without my written permission.) If you wish to share this with others, please link here, or pass along the URL. Thank you.

Please enjoy!

And God be close to you.


Lectio Divina

(Lectio-pronounced: LEX-ee-o)

Lectio Divina as a practice harkens back into early Christianity, to the desert fathers and mothers who practiced meditation on biblical texts.[1] In about 220 A.D., Origen, an early church father, who first taught in Alexandria, and then later in Caesarea, extolled the advantage of combining Scriptural reading with focus, regularity, and prayer–hallmarks of lectio divina.[2] An Eastern dessert monk, John Cassian in the early fifth century introduced the practice to Christians of the West. The Cistercian monks have traditionally combined reading, study, and meditation of scripture through the ages.[3] In the sixth century monasteries that followed the Rule of St. Benedict formally practiced the discipline as a normal rule of daily monastic life.[4] Benedict of Nursia, Italy (ca. 480-ca. 550) left Rome for the village life of Subaico, and built monastery life around community, encompassing manual labor, prayer, and scared reading at worship, and at meals.[5] Of course, attention to Scripture, for followers of Yahweh, is nothing new. For millennia, Jewish tradition has been renown for valuing the copy and preservation of Scriptural texts, meditation on God’s scared Words, and Scripture reading as a normal part of public and private life. Christian tradition follows in this stream as well, with reverence for the Word of the Lord.

In  the 12th century, Ladder of the Monks by Guigo II created a schematic pattern to lectio divina of four movements still commonly used: lectio, meditatio, oratio, and contemplatio.[6] Lectio divina has everything to do with listening. Whether we hear the Scripture when read repeatedly corporately, or we read it out loud several times, or we hear it in our minds, as we read repeat it–we are careful to listen. Lectio divina centers on reading and receiving from God. It also journeys into the contemplative tradition of Christianity as it involves much “prayer of the heart.”[7]

 Lectio

The first movement of lectio divina involves lectio–reading the text. The text is usually not very long, and is most often Scripture. However, some also dwell on passages of spiritual writing, by devout Christians, to draw them to deeper thought, prayer, or devotion.[1] In this movement, one reads the text several times carefully with “wide eyes”, but also, with the whole mind. With active reading and awareness, one reads the text cognizant of God’s power at work through the text.

Meditatio

After a deliberate reading of the text, one moves into meditatio. St. Benedict mentioned that one listens to the Word of God “with the ear of the heart.”[2] In meditation one ruminates, or chews on the text–digesting it, and working it over. One may find an association, poignant word, or image on which focus. In this way, he or she receives from Gods Word. Some present day applications of meditatio exemplify an intellectual preference. They involve consulting commentaries, digesting relating liturgy, or reading relating texts to study the sacred text more fully.[3]

 
Jean Leclercq explains medieval universities, unlike monasteries, differed in their use of lectio divina. Scholastic students approached Scripture as an object to be studied and investigated by subjecting questions to the text. This seems analogous to some of our contemporary Evangelical tendencies. In medieval times, a scholastic pupil questioned himself to the subject matter, and he “sought science and knowledge” in his quest. These students sought discovery remaining more “objective, theological, and cognitive.” Monastic disciples were content to stay more “subjective, devotional, and affective” in their habits.[4]

 Oratio

The meditatio movement flows into oratio–prayer that may be much like dialogue–both speaking and listening. Prayers of praise, worship, thanksgiving, supplication, confession, and so forth, may be a part of oratio.[5] Lectio divina ends in a contemplative phase, though it is sandwiched by meditative prayer and contemplative prayer. Some of this prayer is cerebral and responsive, but it gives way to “prayer of the heart.” Kenneth Boa describes meditative prayer as a more “intellectual exercise.”It engages us more actively as we become thoughtful, vocal, and imaged based compared to contemplative prayer.[6]

Contemplatio

In contrast with the meditative prayer of oratio, contemplative prayer is far more mysterious. One finds it in silence, and in the loss of activity and images. In this stage, one abides and receives from God with “interior stillness.”[7] The contemplatio movement of the lectio exercise exists beyond words. One may discover the deep knowing of the Almighty God who is within, as well as strength, comfort, and a rich and powerful feature of the discipline. Thomas Merton beautifully describes the conversation with God thus: “God takes care to provide [the soul] with everything it desires, and to such an extent that it often finds within itself a very savory, delicious nourishment, though it never sought nor did anything to obtain it, and in no way contributed to it itself, except by its consent.”[8]
This contemplative way is so reflective and quiet as to be rather counter-cultural, existing against our noisy and fast-paced times. In this movement, our thoughts dim, our intellect releases, and we rest in God’scomfort, presence, and power. Our hearts find him, and he fills our hearts. This contemplative movement is a passive way. Why contemplate God in such a way? Thomas Merton answers this question well in following quote:
“What is the purpose of meditation in the sense of “prayer of the heart”? In the ‘prayer of the heart’ we seek first of all the deepest ground of our identity in God. We do not reason about dogmas of faith, or “the mysteries.” We seek rather to gain a direct existential grasp, a personal experience of the deepest truths of life and faith, finding ourselves in God’s truth.”[9] As we center ourselves in God, we may more easily perceive Reality, as God is the source and the fullness of Reality itself.Practical uses in the contemporary church:

Tony Jones notes that lectio divina is gaining in popularity in contemporary churches worldwide.[10] Certainly within the Emergent church movement in North America, the practice has growing appeal, and a number of recent books have come out on the topic. Perhaps the postmodern love of mystery coupled with the renewed interest in ancient church practices has piqued the level of interest. Various contemporary churches are reintroducing the practice into facets of worship and prayer venues.

Lectio divina has various specific practical uses in the contemporary church, some of which have already been mentioned, such as devotional or inspirational Christian writing, group prayer and worship, and bible study. Sarah Butler notes the practice of lectio divina has allowed her to better hear the rhythm of the people entrusted to her ministerial care. The practice of listening and trusting God, in this way, has grown a deeper place in her heart for her people, and a greater compassion for them. She elegantly describes that lectio divina also increased the ability to experience “God’s embrace in the midst of suffering.”[11]

Gregory Polan explains that lectio divina is of particular contemporary benefit for spiritual nourishment in Eucharistic Liturgy at the “Table of the body of the Risen Christ.”He finds lectio divina exceedingly rich for the church to bring added meaning and reflection to this corporate event.[12]

This is only a small blurb on the topic Lectio Divina, and its uses and benefits. My experience of the regular practice of it reaped a spectrum of interactions with God from vivacious jubilation, poignant insights, and gentle comfort, to awkward silences, and even periods of dryness. I write about it now, not so one can inject another quick tactic into one’s life to see spiritual jackpot. In reality, the spiritual journey consists of varying terrain. I present this information now so those desiring to ready themselves more for God’s gracious work can yield and place themselves in a better spot for the seeds of grace he alone plants and nourishes.

If you have any questions about Lectio Divina, or would like to share your experiences (whether positive, or negative) I welcome your comments.


 


[1] Jones. The Sacred Way, 54. 

 

 

 

[2] Gregory J. Polan. Lectio Divina: Reading and Praying the Word of God. Liturgical Ministry, no. 12 (Fall 2003): 203.

[3] Schneiders. Biblical Spirituality,140.

[4] Boa, 175.

[5] Schneiders, 140.

[6] Boa, 182.

[7] Ibid., 182.

[8] Merton, Contemplative Prayer, 40.

[9] Ibid., 82.

[10] Jones, 54.

[11] Sarah Butler. Lectio Divina as a Tool for Discernment. Sewanee Theological Review, 43:3 (Pentcost 2000): 303.

[12] Polan, 206.