B. DYBWAD BROCHMANN
THE ART OF READING THE BIBLE
The Academic versus The Artist
People have two ways to understand and acquire wisdom. The one method we call the knowledge method, which must be learned and acquired. The other method we call the inspiration or immediate comprehension method. What they have in common is that they both use words and pictures (symbols) to explain their points of view. There is both good and bad knowledge. Maybe this is how we are to understand "the tree of knowledge, for good or evil"? There are also good and bad inspirations. Now and then Ė or maybe often Ė these two methods work together having a mutual interaction, and other times these methods are opposing each other like fire and water. (Think, for ex., about the scholars in Jerusalem and the carpenter from Nazareth with all of his illiterate disciples). Accordingly, people gather their wisdom by one way or the other, or sometimes by an interaction of both of them.
"The inspiration method", or the immediate method, is also called the "intuitive method" (intuition means "immediate perception"). In our time we usually call the educated and knowledgeable people "academics", since they have gotten their opinions from school, in "academies". The others Ė the artists, the authors, the poets, prophets, visionaries, etc. Ė we usually call them by a common name, i.e. artists. The artistic ability is a great gift that is often wasted in the schools. Why and how this happens we wonít discuss here. It should be enough to mention the strict warning from Jesus about not trusting artificial, touched-up, and authorized or licensed learning.
You can be born with an artistic ability, and probably most children are born with greater or smaller artistic capabilities. If it becomes fashionable for people to become artists, itís often because the art is debased as a career. The so-called "artists" often come together and form groups, and are just thought of as being commonplace artists. Then they are further grouped into a so-called "Comorra", or political conspiracy, and it is thought that their aim is to swindle their fellow human beings or some other "business branch" to compete with the devil for five crowns of money. The method is simple. You sell your talents to someone, or to the groups and fashions that "have the power", and sweet talk them, with your art form, to win their favor. The one with the highest bid gets the art form on his side. Thatís why you always find, during periods of cultural decline "pornocracy" or spiritual prostitution, the so-called "literary hetaria" ("hetaria" = a secret Greek organization formed to free Greece from the Turks), or cultural "whores", all of which The Bible talks about in detail. This is absolutely a part of understanding the risks in life, as well as the good and the bad possibilities.
If The Bible had only been "the Word of God", in the way the Church-goers wished and thought, then The Bible wouldnít have included, for ex., "the sale of human souls" (Revelations 18:13), or mentioned the spiritual adultery and fornication with the kings and merchants of the earth (Revelations 18:3). But then, would The Bible have been a book of truth? The Bible has included everything, and even emphasized the spiritual, and often unconscious adultery, as much more dangerous for the individual and society than the "private" adultery in the flesh. But, if The Bible had kept quiet about this, then no one would have understood the prostitution being driven by the press and the arts, the sciences and churches, to voluntarily or involuntarily appeal to those in power. Without spiritual prostitution, the military and economic weapons would have no power or influence at all.
When you want to read your Bible, by looking truthfully at our own nature to see if the Light in The Bible agrees with the knowledge we have of ourselves, we always need to remember that The Bible was written by unorganized artists and never by educated men. There is one exception, and that is Paul, who grew up at the feet of Gamaliel (compare his own testimony in Acts 22:3, read also about Gamaliel in Acts 5:34). We will see in later chapters how Paulís academic background affects his teachings, and how he came to create both a distinctive interpretation of The Bible and a way to witness about Christ. During a definite and limited phase in our development, this performed a service of being a bridge of "conciliation" between the social teachings of Christ and the heathen public society. We wonít deny that Paul was also very artistically talented. Paul combined academic knowledge with considerable intuitions and inspirations, and his role in our genetic development has, up to now, been exceedingly important.
If "spirits" like SÝren KirkegŚrdís, Leo Tolstoyís, Carlyleís, Shakespeareís, Henrik Ibsenís, and others had lived during the time of Christ, or before Him, they would have been thought of as "prophets", which is what they truly were, and are. But, because the Word of God has been religionized concerning human beings and the realities of life, the "prophets" of old have come to the forefront in a special way. Itís like they have gotten their own religious "nimbus or halo", or a religious mystical "aura" over themselves, and in following the spirit of truth, a watchful eye must continue to be vigilant.
The wise men and clergy of our time seem to have taken a monopoly in understanding and interpreting the Word of God. And they preferably donít do this unless they are dressed in a solemn long robe with a special pathos and look on their face when they hold forth on biblical interpretations, itís as if The Bible and the Word of God and all the holy inspiration from long ago follows their way of thinking and was their special area of expertise.
People have forgotten the truth. People have forgotten that all the holy writings are inspired by the spirit of God through the artists, who in all of the Old and the New Testaments (except for Paul) were in opposition to the scholars, the authorities and "the rulers". For 2000 years the same conflict has continued between "the prophets", "the artists", and "the seers" on the one side, and the scholars with the acquired knowledge on the other side. Church history and world history have told us about this conflict. The same conflict is felt more or less in everyoneís inner life, every time we internally experience the conflict between the acquired and conventional on the one side, and our own inner "suspicions" and "experiences", "intuitions" and "conclusions" on the other side. The altarís sacrament was created in "memory" of the conflict between the authorities and the Savior, but the world has forgotten that. It wasnít the "sinful" private people who crucified and rejected The Mental Savior of the World. It was the mentally rigid, the incorrigible and self-satisfied daydreamers who represented the heathen societyís traditions that deceived and riled up the people, so that those same people finally agreed to crucify the truth about themselves and accept the principles of violence and coercion. (Barrabas). The whole society would fall apart if people allowed themselves to be seduced into accepting the way Jesus looked at people, God, and the academics. "Drink my blood and eat of my body as long as you have need, but do it in remembrance of me". Donít forget that it was the principle of authority that collided with the truth about life.
The Bible provides the textbook and the teaching method for institutions and for inspiration. It is inspired authors and artists, together with the greatest master of how best to live our life, Christ, at the forefront, who have chosen all of the symbols and the symbolic scenes from The Bible that illustrate, illuminate, and explain human life and its relationship to its God and creator. There is no other god and creator, nor is there any other salvation or savior. Remember this. Trust this. What does all of this mean? What does it mean for the correct interpretation of The Bible that we understand this? What consequences does it have?
Hereís a practical example: Letís say that you are an artist and you understand the soul of the Norwegian people just as good as, for ex., Moses seems to understand the soul of the Jewish people. The soul of the Norwegian people is a living, but invisible reality. No believer denies the soulís existence. However, the soul canít be filmed, weighed, measured, or estimated as the very commonplace spirits and scientists are trying to do. Then along comes a very inspired "artist", like Henrik Ibsen and presents "Per Gynt", "The Pretenders to the Throne", "Fire", "An Enemy of the People", etc., so we can see ourselves. Maybe in 1000 years an erudite theologian and an erudite natural scientist will be sitting together discussing Per Gynt. Letís think about the natural scientist saying: "A Per Gynt has never existed. Donít you understand that itís Ďlies and poetryí and Ďfairytales for childrení? Do you really believe in that kind of nonsense?" The other one, the theologian, could be saying: "We have just been doing excavations in Gudbrandsdalen (an area north of the city of Lillehammer), and now we definitely believe that we have found the ruins of Perís home. His father probably was also named Per and his mother Kari, as evidenced by some old glass jars with inscriptions on them. Per Gynt was a historical person", and so forth.
Do you understand, honored reader, the point Iím trying to make? Whatís missing from both of these erudite gentlemen? They donít have any spirit. They donít know that human beings are created in the image of God (The Spiritís). They donít know that Per Gynt symbolizes the mentality of the Norwegian people. They have no idea about the existence of the mind, and donít believe that it is reality; instead they think it is lies and poetry. They donít understand the prophet Henrik Ibsen who completely "acknowledged" the objective, but invisible, reality. Therefore the scholars donít understand the history of Norway either. After all, who can understand our history and Bible, when you donít understand, see, and acknowledge the most real thing there is Ė the spiritual life, our capacities to think and imagine in relation to the inclinations and lamentations of the soul? Who can really understand Per Gynt who hasnít first understood humanity in its condition of being partially complete, infantile, half-awake and dreaming?
Think a little more about this, before you read any further. What do people mean when they say: "Yes, but Per Gynt isnít historically authentic? Is there anything in Norway that is historically authentic if the licentiousness, fantasy, unruliness, insincerity, simplicity, superficiality, etc. of the people are taken into consideration? Therefore, to discuss if Per Gynt is a historical person is more than ridiculous. It is hackneyed. And saying that Per doesnít have anything to do with reality is just as hackneyed, since the story about him is a metaphor that tries to show us the unvarnished reality of the soul of the Norwegian people. This is the soul that experiential science hasnít "experienced" yet.
This is the way The Bible should be read Ė as an unvarnished portrayal of how human beings really live
Therefore when we hear scholars discuss if Moses has "existed" or not, and if Samson and Delilah have "existed", if the Garden of Eden and the tree of knowledge and the snake have existed, or if Shakespeare has existed, and if the Tower of Babel has existed, etc, I always have to think about Henrik Ibsen and his struggle against a dark and foolish world. If I hadnít seen Henrik Ibsen myself, existing as a living human being at the old Karl Johanís Cafť, at least as an adult, I would have experienced his existence in his unbelievably rich and divinely inspired works, where God and Satan struggle in a way that is just as real and effective as, for example, in Jobís very inspiring book about human life.
By now it should be obvious that these mental inclinations and spiritual powers, that modern psychological research tries to help us understand, are a living, dynamic, and creative reality which keeps us going, and which promotes our growth and development, and "decides" our destiny. It should also be clear that it is these "almighty" powers that we call respectively God and Satan, which men of varying abilities have described in The Bible. In addition, they have also tried to share their understandings of these powers. To believe in the "supernatural" without seeing and understanding is called "believing without sight", in The Bible. To have an opinion without seeing proof, The Bible calls "eyes that donít see, and ears that donít hear". "Faith because we see" is described in The Bible as having faith in our supernatural mental powers and at the same time describing them correctly. In this book we are trying to show that we both see and believe.
Whoever sees human children playing around with symbols, and at the same time denies the reality of our "supernatural" abilities, The Bible defines as being born blind. Whoever can look at our "public" officials and authorities, without also seeing their well-meant day- dreams, has a big surprise ahead of them. Furthermore, whoever has seen all kinds of discoveries and progress, and all of the "miracles" that have happened, since we have begun to understand nature and its realities, without also seeing "the spirit of God Almighty" in people, hasnít "seen The Son of Man", as interpreted by The Bible. "For who has seen Me", says the Son of Man, "has also seen the Father", Who is the almighty eternal spirit. As manís eyes open for the truth and reality about himself, he will be able to perform greater and greater deeds.
And you were wondering if "The Bible is connected with reality?"