The Beginning of Desire, Reflections on Genesis, by Aviva Gottlieb Zornberg, provides wonderful sacred reading for those wishing to enter more deeply into the first Book of the Bible, “the book of beginnings, where the origins of all things are to be found”. (page xvii) In the introduction, she talks about her way of reading and interpreting a text, which resonates very strongly with the Benedictine practice of lectio divina. Here are a few quotes, by way of illustration:

“One of my assumptions is that the sources I refer to set up a field of tension and mutual illumination with the biblical text. I am not looking simply to elucidate either what the Bible ‘really means’ or what moral or homiletical uses can be made of the biblical narrative. I am looking to loosen the fixities, the ossifications of preconceived readings. To do this, a dialectical hermeneutics is essential: an opening of the ear, eye and heart to a text that reflects back the dilemmas and paradoxes of the world of the reader.” (page xii)

“…to read, especially to read the Bible – is to call out for response to a text that itself calls out, summons, and addresses the reader. Essentially, to read is to invite the text to yield up its meanings.” (page xvii)

“Such a reading … – is not a matter of reading personal concerns into the text. Rather, it is a responsive summons to the meanings inherent within the text, that await the ‘hearing’ reader. (Moses) is not entranced by the words of the text, but senses what is hidden in the spaces between the letters, in the silences between the words.” (page xviii)

“Ultimately, the interpretive act becomes similar to the creative act. One reads, and one begins to hear a certain hum in one’s ears……The hum in the the ears of the reader generates a personal response to the text. There are, of course, decorums and limits to be observed; but the intimate encounter between self and text must create something new, something neither ‘stale’ nor ‘shabby’, in Wallace Stevens’ words, but with that essential ‘this-ness,’ which is the classic midrashic description of what it is to receive the Torah: …the words of Torah should be new to you as though they were given this very day. Rashi, (Exodus 19:11) page xix