I started reading scripture seriously late in high school. I confess, at the time I thought most of it was boring. Today, when I read the scriptures, it is full of intrigue, humor, drama, and deep profundity. Reading scripture is a skill that is learned through repetition and some training. There are several genre in the Bible and each must be absorbed with a different set of lenses, just like we wouldn’t read poetry in the same way as a user manual. When you begin to learn these skills the text lights up with excitement.
The story of Elijah is in the genre of Old Testament narrative. We don’t have the time to learn all the principles of reading Old Testament narrative so here I’ll focus on one principle. Biblical narrative is like concentrate. Parchment and ink were expensive, so writing lots of detail was impractical. These stories are meant to be injected with imagination and questions. The authors include just enough information for our imaginations to fill in the gaps. I had a Bible professor who would tell us to let our imaginations run wild and then reign it back in with study. A tool that helps me is to imagine filming the story. Get into the characters minds. How would they act out the parts? What are they feeling? What tone of voice are they using in each exchange?
Read 2 Kings 2:1-18 and read it imaginatively. Put yourself into Elisha’s shoes. Ask questions, seek evidence in the story to answer the questions. Let the strangeness of an interaction nag at you until you have a hypothesis about its meaning. Ask God to open your eyes to why each detail is included. Remember every detail is important, especially in this genre. When we read this text as a daily team we laughed a bit, we were confused, and our interest was sparked enough to keep us coming back. Enjoy!
By Aaron Bjorklund