Fridays with Benedict: Chapter 45, Mistakes in the Oratory

I'm not a huge fan of Chapter 45 of The Rule of St. Benedict. This chapter--"Mistakes in the Oratory"--describes how mistakes in reading the psalms during worship are to be dealt with:
1Should anyone make a mistake in a psalm, responsory, refrain or reading, he must make satisfaction there before all...
I get what Benedict is trying to do, that he is trying to inculcate a respect for the Word of God. And I'm sure, if you grew up in church, that you can identify. For the longest time, as a teenager, I couldn't highlight my bible. And I highlight the hell out of stuff. But I couldn't bring myself to mark in my bible.

And we even call it the Holy Bible.

(To be sure, the Holy Bible comes in a lot of weird shapes and sizes nowadays. From magazine bibles to metal box bibles to camouflage bibles to chunky bibles.)

The big worry in revering the bible is that it tempts one into bibliolatry, turning the bible into an object of worship or a magical artifact. To fight this temptation you have to keep coming back to the words of Jesus:
John 5.39 (NLT)
"You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!"

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8 thoughts on “Fridays with Benedict: Chapter 45, Mistakes in the Oratory”

  1. None of the bibles you mentioned are as awesome as the American Patriot's Bible.

    "THE AMERICAN PATRIOT'S BIBLE connects the teaching of the Bible, the history of the United States, and the life of every American. Discover Biblical truths that formed the foundation of American values and how they apply to today's culture. Experience spiritual milestones in American history with beautiful, full-color insert pages. Examine the intersection between American history and the Christian faith through unique articles spotlighting the people and events that have made America great."

  2. Please tell me you're joking, Gregory!! Ahh....feeling rather sick at the moment.

  3. I think back on my younger days when I would here our preachers ridicule the preachers of other groups who wore clerical garb, accusing them of wanting attention. These were the ones who held their Bibles very high, many of them the large Dickson Bible, for all to see as they made their way to the pulpit, when, actually, all they needed was a pamphlet from the rack in the vestibule.

  4. Please forgive the misspelling ("here" was supposed to be "hear"). It really bugs me to do that. But I was trying to give our fives Yorkies some attention while I was typing. When you have five house dogs, two on your lap and three at your feet, you have a ready made excuse for most any flub.

  5. Having both marked the heck out of my Bible and now kissing a gold covered copy of the Gospels as part of my tradition, I see it as a "both/and". Jesus would have kissed the Torah in His worship just as the Jews continue to do today. In the OT the people stood at the reading of the Scripture (something I do now but never did as a Protestant even though I knew the OT stories). (Reverencing "holy objects" is another whole discussion....) But that said, I see the point of Benedict's Rule because it instills a reverence for "getting the Bible right" and paying attention as a "worship leader". I am a tonsured Reader/Chanter in my church and it carries a huge responsibility to be sure I do not put "me" into what I am reading, but I pass on the text faithfully, accurately and without my interpretive reading of it either by carelessness or by reading it "dramatically". If the scriptures point to Jesus, it is the Reader's responsibility to see that the directions are accurately transmitted to the listener. (In Benedict's day there were no Bibles in the pews, the ONLY way you heard the scriptures were in the services of the Church and read by someone who was appointed to read, so the importance of getting it right for the hearers was a primary function of a Reader/Chanter).

  6. Thank Gld you were joking. Naive little old me couldn't tell there for a second. And how sad the popular juggernaught you present.

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