How the Bible’s Original Audience “Read” Scripture: An Interview with Tom Meyer

Today, we take for granted our ability to have the biblical text at our fingertips - almost anywhere. According to one study, 89% of American households own at least one bible and the average American household owns 4.1 bibles (not even to mention the digital copies we carry in our pockets and backpacks).

This wide-access to the texts of scripture, enjoyed by Americans, is a relatively new phenomenon (post reformation). For most of biblical history and the era of the church the vast majority of people were dependent upon the public recitation or reading of scripture. In other words, scripture was something heard and performed - listened to- rather than looked at and studied.

Tom Meyer is trying to resurrect this lost art.

He performs long portions of the biblical text from memory and in so doing, gives others the opportunity to practice the lost art of listening to the public performance of long portions of scripture. I had the pleasure of discussing this topic - the orality of scripture - with Tom last fall. Watch our 15 minute discussion and gain insight into how the ancient practice of hearing scripture can enliven your study of the text. 

Interview Highlights:

Tom Meyer has memorized over twelve complete books of the biblical text. He is the founder of The Scripture Cannot Be Broken Ministries and tours the country in association with Wordsower Ministries in order to dramatically perform the biblical text from memory. He also happens to be a professor of Old testament and Bible Memorization at Shasta Bible College in Redding, CA and has two M.A's from Jerusalem University College.

We talked about:

  1. Why hearing scripture so important for our devotional life?
  2. ​The importance of the spoken word to the bible's original audience (both OT and NT audiences)
  3. The importance of hearing scripture in the wider church.
  4. What is the difference between reading the bible and and hearing the bible performed?
  5. Strategies for developing the ancient practice of hearing scripture on a regular basis.

Join the discussion below: Do you incorporate listening to the text into your regular bible study? How has this helped you study the text? What strategies do you use to listen to the biblical text on a regular basis? 

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  • This is so good, Larry. I agree that listening to Scripture is a lost art. My commute is my Bible reading time. 🙂 It so affected me last year that I wrote a post about 4 Reasons You Should Try Listening to the Bible for a Change. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Thanks Wayne for sharing! You’ve got a number of great suggestions for making listening to scripture easier on that post! Readers here should check it out!

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