Bible – Lectio divina

How to read the bible

LECTIO DIVINA (auditio divina)

This expression of monastic origin designates the christian, regular, rational and prayerful reading of the Bible.

An authentic Christian cannot content himself with listening absentmindedly to the readings of the weekly Mass: his faith would remain at the infantile stage or at the level of the coffeshop conversation. Stop biblical illiteracy ! Years of university studies in business, science or art, and nothing in the knowledge of God (Os 6:6) and of the Truth (Jn 8:32 ) which is the condition of Love and will serve for Eternal Life ?

It is no less vital to give your heart air and food than you supply your body with them every day.
A day without the Word of God is like screwed up, because it is by the Word of God that we receive the Faith that saves us (cf. Rom 10:17 ; 3,28). The real success and the meaning of your lifeare a matter of priorities…

The Bible is not a continuous novel but a library of 73 small books which are themselves composite (periods, contexts, authors, literary genres). We only understand it little by little and more and more if we practice it faithfully, by illuminating the passages from one to the other.
There are many reading charts of the whole Bible over 1 or 2 years, but we recommend following the daily liturgical readings of the Church (references on
or a perpetual calendar , because:
– we are thus in daily communion with Catholics of all nations and at all times;
– it gets used to placing the four Gospels in the center, commenting on them with the first reading which is an opening ( haftara in Hebrew: reading of a prophet illuminating the pentateuch): we thus comment on Scripture by Scripture itself , notably the Old Testament on which everything is based;
– we thus go through in 3 years the most directly significant parts of all the books of the Bible;
– we remain oriented not towards knowledge for dry knowledge but towards prayer: the goal of all action here below is the encounter with God.

– the most literal text or a study bible (notes and introductions to the Jerusalem Bible, the TOB or the Study Segond) or even better, with a good Bible study software , which allows access to words in all the ancient biblical languages ​​(Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Syriac, Latin, even without having had the opportunity to study them, and to make concordances – rigorous comparisons of the use of the same terms by the Bible itself-): see the best internet and Android resource links below. – the complete
biblical text, rather than excerpts from a missal, allows us to scrutinize the context essential to the understanding of any passage, and not to neglect what the simple liturgical lectionary does not allow us to browse;
– a pencil or a laptop at hand to highlight and annotate this bible, write what touches us, and gradually develop personalized files of notes and comments, so as not to start work stupidly from scratch each time… but to pick up where we left off by digging ever deeper.

– Honoring the book of the Bible at home. Reserve a special, dignified and visible place for him. It is good to surround it with signs that mark its sacred character (flowers, candles, etc.);
– Choose in advance a place and a time that are not too random to study the Word during the day. This duration depends on the time that I am ready to devote to the encounter with God. The busier you feel, the more you need it;
– Aim not primarily for quantity (or the personal satisfaction of having checked off a book…), but for the encounter with God: to taste divine Love , to believe ever more in Him, to let Him transform your desires and your life.
– Find an appropriate body attitude that can be kept for the entire time of lectio; one can of course begin and end with a prostration;
– Stick to it faithfully , for example at a fixed time, by placing the Bible open on your table or your bed to take it every day. You get a taste for it by practicing, but unlike a cigarette, it gives life.
Do you say to God, “Give us this day our daily bread”? This bread also designates the Bible (cf. Ap 10,9 ; Jr 15,16 ; Ez 3,1 );
– Help each other and motivate each other in regularity and study by forming a Bible study groupin the parish or in the community, by registering as a catechist in order to have to retransmit it , by creating commentary web pages to share…

METHOD (meta-odos: « path through », according to Guigues II the Carthusian, around 1150 ; we detail here, but it is a very simple movement which quickly becomes a very natural habit):
1. Epiclesis (epi- klesis : “to call upon”): to invoke the Holy Spirit, author and interpreter of Scripture: it is He who makes me understand what God wants to tell me and brings me into prayer, ie the personal encounter with God .
Invoke Mary, Mother of the Word, who « pondered these things in her heart » (Lk 2,19 ).

2. Reading
If one does not follow the liturgical readings (Gospel first then the other readings), one reads books continuously starting with the Gospels, then the Psalms, the Epistles, the Pentateuch, the prophetic books].
– read the entire passage at least once, then we dissect it sentence by sentence (even word by word, if possible taking into account the terms in the biblical languages ​​thanks to the biblical dictionaries, software or websites), looking for the same uses of the word (or hapax=single use). From this phase, you can take notes to help yourself.
– do not hesitate to interrupt the course of this reading as much as necessary to let “resonate” a word that particularly touches me (it is not a question of lectio profana to just be moved or informed, but of lectio divina to conform to Christ).

3. Meditation (memory, intelligence, imagination):
– situate the passage in its context (author, story, book, position of the passage);
– evaluate the literary genre (poetry, story, speech…);
– try to understand the words in the ancient biblical languages , or if not, compare different translations;
– identify its rhetorical structure (repetition, symmetry , progression, center);
– we thus try to perceive the intention of the author;
– study what tradition (Fathers and Saints), the magisterium, and exegetical commentaries (vs ideological…) have said on this passage;
– research what God says about Himself, God’s promises for us, God’s demands for us;
– focus on points that resist us and seem more difficult to understand;
– visualize the situation by situating oneself in the scene: where am I and with whom, what is God saying to me personally;
– the meaning generally springs from the linking of different passages: Ps 36:10: In your light, we will see the light. 1Co :13 Pneumatically understand the pneumatic (ie what the Spirit reveals).

4. Prayer
As soon as the Word truly descends from the intelligence into the heart, that is to say as soon as God touches us in depth, it is strongly advised to remain in prayer and not to seek anything else out of simple intellectual curiosity. We give thanks to God for what He reveals to us and we adore Him. This is the contemplation phase.

5. Resolution , because the Word is alive (1P 1:23 ), and so that it transforms our life. Without a concrete decision to convert, to love more in such a direction, to trust more in God in such and such an area, the Bible would remain a dead letter: you might as well read a telephone directory… It’s about taking action.
Origen: « To cross the book of Life with the book of your life ».
Then remember during the day what has been received:
Dt 4:39 Meditate today in your heart…
Dt 30:4 The Word is very close to you, it is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may put into practice.
Ps 1:2 Blessed is the man… who murmurs His Law day and night.

Four levels of meaning that can be sought ( synthesis according to Cal de Lubac ):
literal – historical;
– spiritual allegorical ; 1Co 10:6 These facts (the manna of the Exodus) occurred to serve us as types;
theological – anagogic (“driven upwards”);
moral – tropological (tropos = “way” [of living]).
Full meaning = the whole.
(Augustin of Dace, XIIIth c.: « The letter teaches the facts, the allegory what to believe, the moral sense what to do, the anagogy towards what to tend. »)

Origen, the first to model and practice Christian exegesis, already said that one can read Scripture at 3 levels (according to 1Th 5:23) :
* bodily sense (somatic, literal, historical), which is like the flesh of Scripture: we take the sentence as it is written;
For example: Noah’s ark where the animals enter, the trees that clap their hands, the star that guides the Magi…;
* psychic sense (moral, tropological, sapiential): concerns action;
* pneumatic sense (mystical, anagogic, theological). Typological contemplation, in God, of the divine Mystery, eschatological hope.

Reading and study sites on the internet:

Bibles with ancient languages:
Segond Bible with Faithlife dictionary free by creating an account
ESV bible resources from study – english
Studylight: Bible resources of all kinds -English
Annotated and Comparative NET Study Bible- English
Compare translations for a verse

– Android apps for reading (or search for a word) (best free apps):
Bible Lexicon
Lifove bible: interlinear French Greek Latin Hebrew
MySword bible: + Greek + Hebrew translation – Easy search
Bible study: numerous versions in columns

 Bible software :
to focus on the study of the original word for word and quickly find other uses of the same word
Accordance for the comparison of versions to the text indexed in columns
Verbum/Logos for the vast digital exegetical library in English


Lectio divina: prayerful study of the Word of God, which will be the object of the following two parts.

– To scrutinize (corresponding to the Hebrew darash): to observe with detail and zeal (to search, to search -from the Latin « to go around »-, to study, to analyze, to examine -from the Latin « to weigh »-), which implies a motivation and a objective

– To meditate comes from mederi, « to heal »: the thoughtful listening (which is not an individual act but in communion with the Church) of the Word of God is what communicates the Faith (Rm 10:17), by which we are saved (Eph 2:5).

Exegesis (from the Greek « to lead outside »): to bring out the meaning or meanings of the letter of the biblical text (as opposed to « eisegesis »: to introduce into the text our preconceived ideas, whether they are possibly true, or whether they are false).

Explain/explanation: literally « unfolding », by reason and faith.

Gloss (from the Greek « tongue »): short explanatory annotation.

Comment: « to remember together »; to bring together the elements of the whole Word of God, the examples of life and arguments of the Saints and our fathers in the Faith, and the fruit of our reflection, to bring out the meaning (meaning and direction for the human being).

– To preach/predication, from pre-dicere: « to say ahead [of you] »: a word in front of oneself because ideally it comes first of all from God, and in front of others because it seeks their deepest good. It is also in front of the Church, because it does not announce a personal belief but the Faith of the one Church: no Scripture « is subject to individual interpretation » (2P 1:20).

Homily (from the Greek homilein): « to speak as equals », which can be understood in two ways:

  • God conversing with those who listen to his Word;
  • a Word of God dialoguing with the other Words of God: the divine Word revealed as a whole, formed the language of the revelation of the Logos (the Word), eternal thought of divine Love.

In use, it is about preaching during the mass.

Sermon: literally « bringing together », or « ordering » of the elements of the Word of God between them, and of our life with its deep purpose, which is to please God by the sincere and disinterested gift of self (GS 24).

Kerygma: proclamation, announcement of a news shouted with authority by a herald, conqueror or commander (cognat of krauzô, to proclaim, He 5,7), for the Hebrew qra: to call, to summon.

Catechesis (from the Greek kat-êcheô): teaching out loud, echoing a word, that of God!


When you carry your Biblesatan gets a headache ,
When you open it, he collapses ,
When you read it, he twists ,
When you live it, he runs away .