By Aaron Elder
Two bracketed words make the difference between a well written article and a fraudulent one. A writer will add this to a quotation after drawing attention to the particular part of a statement made by someone else – whether or not the original author intended the emphasis to be placed there.
As I was reading Psalm 11, this thought came to mind and it made me curious. Every verse is communicating something to us about the nature of God and his world. To make an example, verses 6 and 7 communicate ideas that stand opposed to one another – one verse about the wicked and one verse about the upright. To which of these is my emphasis added? For that matter, when I read any part of the Bible, where is my emphasis added?
We need to zoom out so we can see the whole landscape a bit more clearly. There are many systematic theologies with a few garnering most of the attention. While these systematic theologies have much to offer, they necessarily add emphasis in some areas where other systematics add emphasis elsewhere. While this can be problematic, it doesn’t have to be.
We all read things through a lens that has been developed through our upbringing, our education, and our relationships. Having a lens is part of being human. Recognizing I have a lens allows me to become curious. Where am I adding emphasis? Should I add it there? Is there a different way to understand what I’m reading? If I’m reading the Bible and everything lines up perfectly with how I think, I’m in desperate need of asking better questions [emphasis added].