|Publication Date: 19 Feb 2015|
|Publisher: SPCK Publishing|
|Page Count: 128|
|Author: Enzo Bianchi|
|ISBN-13: 9780281073344, 9780281073351|
Enzo Bianchi is known to many as prior of the ecumenical Bose monastic community in Italy. Lectio Divina is his plea for Christians to feed on the Bible prayerfully and intelligently, avoiding both academic detachment and literalist credulity, and willing to enlist the fruits of biblical criticism in approaching scripture as a sacrament of God's presence. It is towards the end of this short book that Bianchi focuses on the specific discipline of lectio divina, with its four-fold sequence of lectio (engaging the otherness of the Bible) meditatio bringing ourselves into relationship with scripture), oratio (offering what is taking place to God), and contemplatio (dwelling joyfully in God's presence), having spent time outlining the foundation of this method in patterns of interpretation found within the Bible itself, in Origen, and in medieval hermeneutics. Such prayerful Bible study will often be undertaken individually, but it is a strenght of Bose's approach that he sees the defining context for encountering the Bible to be liturgical and communal: 'In liturgy-especially eucharistic liturgy- there is a resurrection of Scripture as Word' - though Protestant sensibilities may bristle a little to be told that 'all of this takes place under a presiding guarantor' Lectio Divina reads well in translation from the Italian but remains very much a Roman Catholic book, written in response to that Church's 'long estrangement from the Bible' and the neglect of Bible-reading in 'the daily lives of lay Catholics', unhelped by 'priests lacking training in reading Scripture'. Patristic authorities and official RC documents are frequently cited, but there is a notable absence of wider reference. The combination of patient explanation, close reference to post-Vatican II documentation, and a gentle assertiveness bring something of the air of the novitiate lecture-room. Readers belonging to Churches of the Reformation may feel that Bose is making a case for something that they have known about for some time, and that the helpful structure of lectio divina may not be quite as distinctive as it seems. The author offers many striking insights from his tradition into how, in reading scripture, we 'will know that we have read well if we feel that the text is reading us', though non-RC readers may feel that for much of the book they are overhearing a neighbouring family's conversation.