Tag Archive | reading old books

Why read? An argument for the importance of reading

Why read?

Why read? Why am I committed to reading? For one, words matter. They matter to me and they mattered to Jesus and Paul too. I think words and reading should matter to you too.

Jesus read

Jesus apparently read or at least retained what He heard as a kid. He listened to the teachers and asked them questions and “all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers” (Lk. 2:47). So, words mattered to Jesus and especially God’s words.

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He fought off the temptation by quoting Scripture (Matt. 4). Jesus clearly knew the Scriptures. He quoted from Deuteronomy chapter 6 verse 13, verse 16, and chapter 8 verse 3.[1]

Jesus read in the in the synagogue (Lk. 4:16) as was the custom on the Sabbath (Acts 15:21).

Paul read

Paul in Romans 3:10-18 quotes from ten different passages. And he did it from memory. It is unlikely that he would have looked up those passages in a nearby scroll. He certainly didn’t look it up in a concordance in the back of his Bible. No. He would have read those passages and memorized them. Scripture, however, was apparently not the only thing that Paul read and could quote. He also quoted popular poets (Acts 17:28).

Paul was in prison in Rome and he was writing his dear friend Timothy. He asked Timothy for a few items. First, we see he wants him to come before winter (2 Tim. 4:21) and bring his coat. Second, we see the importance of reading along with warmth, Paul wants his books and parchments too (2 Tim. 4:13).

Reading was important for the Apostle Paul.

You should too

Reading allows us to learn and glean from people in places and times we otherwise wouldn’t. Reading can facilitate wisdom. C.S. Lewis talks about the importance of prioritizing time-tested books.

I think there is a lot of wisdom in what Lewis said. I think our first priority should be the reading of Scripture. The Bible is the best-selling book of all time and the most translated book of all time. And Scripture gives us “the words of eternal life” (Jn. 6:68).

So, read books but especially read the Bible. Reading is important because God had revealed Himself and His will through revelation.

How to read more?

The number one advice I have is to prioritize reading. And deprioritize other lesser things, like social media. If reading is important, make sure it’s important in practice. Also, check out my advice “10 Ways to Read More Books in 2021.”

Read. Jesus and Paul the Apostle did.

Notes

[1] It’s important that we realize that the tempter also knows Scripture. In Matthew 4:6 the tempter quotes from Psalm 91:11 and 12 to try to cause Jesus to sin.

*Photo by Seven Shooter

Some of the most significant theological books I have read…

Here is a list (in no particular order) of some of the most significant theological books I have read.*

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*This is a personal list of books that helped me in a particular way at a particular time. This is not a list on the best and most significant theological books; that list would look different.

C.S. Lewis on the Importance of Reading Old Books

As part of our book diet, C.S. Lewis reminds us to not leave out old books. “It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones” (C. S. Lewis, “On the Reading of Old Books”).

Lewis is wise to also say that,

“People were no clever then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us. Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction” (C. S. Lewis, “On the Reading of Old Books”).

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