St. Ignatius of Loyola lived in the early 1500s and was the founder of the Jesuit Order in the Catholic Church. His Spiritual Disciplines are well-known and used by Catholics and Protestants alike to deepen and enrich one’s spiritual life. In this third series of Bible Studies we will use what is called the Ignatian method of Bible study.
In this method, a specific section of scripture is read and studied from a number of different perspectives. The reader will be asked to read through the verses several times, each time from a different point of view. For example, one might be asked to read from the perspective of one of the disciples, a child in the crowd, a woman who encounters Jesus, or even Jesus himself.
The principles underlying this method of approaching scripture are manifold. Looking at a story from differing perspectives helps us understand multiple aspects of the text. By using imagination we can make the story come alive, almost as if we were there at the scene, thereby enabling us to enter into the story and comprehend details that we would otherwise miss. By considering the mindset of several characters, we can come to a better understanding of the context of the original story as well as of what the text is saying to us in our own situation today.
Because this method requires a larger period of time to complete, the reader may want to use it over several days. For example, if one lesson requires five readings, one might read the scripture through each day for five consecutive days, each day from a different point of view. It is most effective, however, to avoid allowing too much time to pass before completing the exercise as a whole.
There will be times where you are asked to physically act out a scene as if you were one of the characters. While it is possible to simply imagine the scene, it has been our experience that going through the physical motions as one of the characters in the event has a far greater impact on the reader. We strongly encourage you to find a private place where you can be free to move about and dramatize the events without inhibitions. After doing it once, we have no doubt that you will be convinced of the difference!
As always, we strongly recommend recording your thoughts, insights, questions and observations in a journal. This method, in particular, will bring up different emotions, thoughts and questions than other approaches to scripture. It is very helpful to keep a record of these insights and return to them from time to time.
We wish for you great blessings as you delve into the scriptures through this series. This is probably our favorite method in terms of getting all the richness and depth from the text and making God’s word come alive for us today. May your experiences be as rich and beneficial!