Books that Helped Me Read the Bible: #1, The Burning Word

Recently, I've been asked my thoughts by a few people on (1) the nature of the Bible and (2) how we ought to read it. Others who haven't asked these questions specifically have asked adjacent ones. So, I thought I'd name a few books that have assisted me in my struggle that don't require one to be a specialist in theology or biblical studies. 

The first one I'll mention is Judith M. Kunst's The Burning Word: A Christian Encounter with Jewish Midrash. It's been about a decade since I read it (though I plan to read it again), so I don't know that I can evaluate critically what she says about midrash (though I will say Walter Bruegemann endorsed it). I will say that the posture this book advocates as a reader of the Bible is one I've tried to adopt. Kunst uses the image of the patriarch Jacob wrestling the angel of YHWH as a metaphor for our engagement with the Bible. This has stuck with me in that the Bible is a natural place where we may meet the divine. As the angel of YHWH's relationship to YHWH is unclear, so at times is the Bible's to God, so that our talk of "inspiration" is often convoluted. Yet experientially and existentially many of us feel as if we've encounter the Divine Presence in the pages of Scripture. We fight with the text, refusing to let it go although it seems unbeatable, and in the end, as the daylight breaks, we realize we've met God and our walk has been altered every so slightly. I like this way of thinking about the Bible.

Here is the blurb for this interested: 

Midrash is a Hebrew word meaning “to search out.” This ancient, Jewish method for interpreting the Bible searches not for what is familiar but for what is unfamiliar, not for what’s clear but for what’s unclear, and then wrestles with the text, passionately, playfully, and reverently. Midrash views the Bible as one side of a conversation, started by God, containing an implicit invitation to keep the conversation going. Kunst invites the reader to explore Midrash for the first time through a conversation, at times humorous, reflective and poetic, offering practical suggestions for personal Midrash-making along the way.