by John Hall
For even the most adroit of readers, the Scriptural texts that constitute the Bible can be complex and difficult to understand, not only in terms of content and meaning, but also with respect to their origin and purpose. The Bible has, for almost all of its history, been simultaneously a perennial object of study for scholars and a means of devotion and prayer for even the most simple and uneducated of believers. No other piece of writing in history has ever garnered such a great following from such a broad spectrum of readership. It is perhaps for this reason that the range of ideas about the role of Scripture in the life of Christianity and individual Christians is so diverse.
It is a widely circulated truth that exposure to the texts of the Bible is, for many Roman Catholics, almost exclusively limited to the public readings that occur during the Mass on Sundays. Catholics are somewhat notorious among the wider group of Christians for their lack of familiarity with the Bible. Admittedly, the attitude behind this phenomenon in Catholics is not exactly laudable, but is it entirely false? Is there perhaps some element of truth behind many Catholics’ exclusively liturgical experience of Scripture?