Monday, June 8, 2009

Lectio Continua

The Westminster Directory of Public Worship teaches that the reading of scriptures is an element of worship, and that it is most profitable to "ordinarily" read the Scriptures lectio continua, that is, in a continuous, systematic order week by week, thoroughly and completely, from beginning to end, including the Old and New Testaments, and each book of the Bible therein, omitting nothing, to provide the whole counsel of God to the people, rather than lectio selecta, that is selecting portions of Scripture readings for special occasions, which happens when churches follow the ecclesiastical calendar, and tends towards repetition of favorite passages, while skipping others. Here is the mind of the Westminster Assembly on the subject.

Of Publick Reading of the Holy Scriptures.

All the canonical books of the Old and New Testament (but none of those which are commonly called Apocrypha) shall be publickly read in the vulgar tongue, but of the best allowed translation, distinctly, that all may hear and understand.

How large a portion shall be read at once, is left to the wisdom of the minister; but it is convenient, that ordinarily one chapter of each Testament be read at every meeting; and sometimes more, where the chapters be short, or the coherence of matter requireth it.

It is requisite that all the canonical books be read over in order, that the people may be better acquainted with the whole body of the scriptures; and ordinarily, where the reading in either Testament endeth on one Lord's day, it is to begin the next.

We commend also the more frequent reading of such scriptures as he that readeth shall think best for edification of his hearers, as the book of Psalms, and such like.

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