He, who has an ear, let him hear! Reading Bible passages out loud is one way of actually hearing what we are reading. ‘Speaking Scripture’ takes this into an account. It is an excellent way of entering into a passage, for example in small group Bible studies. Instead of the Bible passage being read aloud once, it is spoken repeatedly. Students learn to listen carefully. As they listen and imagine the context of the first hearers, they begin to speak the words in a way which is so much more alive and meaningful.
When using this approach in a small group Bible study, the facilitator gets different students to ‘speak Scripture.’ As one student speaks a portion of scripture, invite those listening to respond: ‘How was the speaking? Can you feel anything? Did it make you think further?’ Then ask other students to try speaking it. Some background information can help the students imagine the situation. The facilitator can ask the students to identify with what is happening by putting themselves in the shoes of the people involved: this includes all the characters of a narrative, but also, for example the psalmist, the prophet, or the writer of a letter. The facilitator can ask questions along the way, like: How do you think Jesus says this to the invalid? In what tone does the invalid respond? (John 5). How would Paul have said what he writes in the letter to Philemon? How does the psalmist utter his thanksgiving to God?
‘Speaking Scripture’ has proved to really help students enter into the passage. In the initial stage, students may find it a bit awkward, and they may laugh as they speak. But when they put themselves into the passage, the Word comes alive to them, touches their own lives, and changes their approach to understanding God’s Word. To be a little bit more creative, acting can also be added in as the students speak scripture. However, the facilitator needs to see whether this will distract or help, as it can sometimes be a hindrance.
You can begin by trying out passages from the gospel narratives. You can then try out epistles, psalms, prophecy. In fact, all genres found in the Bible can be approached in this way. ‘Speaking Scripture’ has changed me and the way I facilitate Bible studies with students. May you also discover the great value of this approach! Come and be participants by speaking Scripture, speaking and entering into the Word that transforms lives.
Lee Wan Ling, staff worker FES Malaysia
wanling (at) fes.org.my