Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I recently rejoined a Bible Study group. It's been over a year since I decided to take a break, for multiple reasons, the biggest one being that the Bible Study group meets on Friday mornings at church. Right next to my office. Friday is my day off. Going to work on my day off became very, very uncool. But another part of me left because I was really tired of reading the Bible through someone else's filter.

When I left the Bible Study we were going through a study book about women of the Bible. Written by men. Our format of study is a little different than how the book was written, so our group went a little bit more in-depth the with study than most people would. Our first lesson was on Eve. We read the scriptures, read the questions, read the author's commentary and, well, all H-E-double hockey sticks broke loose. The filter through which the author's read the scriptures and answered their own questions was not the filter through which the Bible Study group read the scriptures and answered the questions. One of the ladies in the group started taking notes on the differing opinions that we had with the authors. There were many.

Take, for instance, the fruit that Eve and Adam ate. What was that fruit? If you've been to Church, Sunday School or even heard the story or seen a painting of that incident, you would likely say that the fruit that Eve and Adam ate was an apple.

Here's what is says in Genesis 3:1-7

3:1 Now the serpent was more shrewd than any of the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Is it really true that God said, ‘You must not eat from any tree of the orchard’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the orchard; but concerning the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the orchard God said, ‘You must not eat from it, and you must not touch it, or else you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “Surely you will not die, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will open and you will be like divine beings who know good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves." (Courtesy of NET.Bible.org)

A straight reading of this story shows that there is no mention of the type of fruit that was eaten. It could have been a fig (which would explain a LOT about Jesus' frustration with the fig tree in a later part of the Bible!!), it could have been an apricot or peach or pear or orange or pomegranate or anything else. It does not say that the fruit was an apple. And yet, some way, somehow we have gotten it into our heads that an apple was the fruit that gave wisdom to Eve and Adam. My original filter for that story says that it was an apple, so every time I read the story I saw "apple" where "fruit" was written. But that's not what it says.

The things we read, the things we hear, all run through filters in our brain. Many times these filters are made up of experiences that we have had, lessons we have learned or something that we have heard somewhere along the way. Sometimes the filters stop us from really seeing or hearing what is written or said. The information gets tweaked, just enough, so that by the time we receive the information, it's a little different.

That can be a good thing. There are times when we need to filter out useless information to get to the heart of a message. I know plenty of people that need to give 15 minutes of back story before they can get to the heart of their story...my filters work overtime in those instances. When on the receiving end of criticism, filtering helps. Get through the ugly words to the meat of the criticism...which can still be ugly. Filters are there to try to help us make sense of what is being said.

When it comes to reading Scripture, though, sometimes our filters aren't so helpful. Which is why this Bible Study has been a challenge and an eye opening experience. My filters are much different than the author's. I have been forced to look at what the Scripture actually says, not what we have conjectured into the story, to seek answers and understanding. Even then, my filters put things in that are not there...Mary rode a donkey to Bethlehem...wait, what? There isn't a donkey in that story?! Are you sure?!

Rejoining the Bible Study, I was very aware that they were on the 2nd book of women of the Bible (the study books were bought together...before we knew better) written by the same three men...which could be a whole different blog post but I'll leave most of my feminist instincts on the editing floor for the moment. This time I am going into the study with my eyes wide open. I read the Bible through a different filter. I'm okay with that.

*This post came about because of this blog...which my filter's are telling me is a little sarcastic.

1 comment:

Emily said...

My mom recently told me about that Bible study and I was thinking about joining it... Now it has even more intrigue... :)