August 1, 2011 by Matthew Mason
A robust commitment to reading Scripture will probably only come from an equally robust doctrine of Scripture. Magrassi not only offers an account of patristic lectio divina, he expounds the doctrine of Scripture that underlies such reverence for the text, and he does so in delightfully rich and suggestive ways. It’s a short book, but its account of Scripture is profound. Drawing particularly on John Scotus Eriugena, he here illuminates the connection between God’s revelation in creation and in Scripture. In a sense, this could be seen as a meditation on Psalm 19.
Creation is God’s first book. Augustine, too, was fascinated by this idea. Using one of his clever word plays, he said that the universe was written by God as a book, and Scripture was made by God as a universe.
Both Scripture and creation, says John Scotus, are reflections of the eternal light. Without sin, creation would have been enough. [MM: no, it wouldn't; it was still necessary for God to speak his covenant word to Adam (Gen 1:28ff; Gen 2:16f)] The world would have been a book, large and clear, and every creature would have been a manifestation of God.
But after sin, it bears a curse which makes it opaque to the divine light. What is more, our mind bears a curse which makes it unclean and unable to understand the language of things, to see in them a reflection of eternal beauty. And so God created a new universe, spreading before us this new firmament which sings his glory: Sacred Scripture. Upon entering it, we can hear his Word again, see his light, enter into communication with him. At the same time we find the key to unlock the book of creation. In the light of the Word, the material universe also becomes transparent again. (Praying the Bible, 36-37)