John Piper Doesn’t Read Very Fast

openbook.jpgAs a (very) slow reader myself, this is (very) encouraging from John Piper:

One Advantage of Reading Slowly

The fact that hundreds of the pages of God’s inspired word are devoted to poetry moves me. One of the effects is to make me aware that God thinks the sound of language matters.

God has blessed and humbled me with the inability to speed read. I read about the same speed that I talk. I hear what I read as I read it. For years I tried not to. Speed reading consultants (I took their courses—in vain.) say that pronouncing the words, even in your head, turns a rabbit reader into a turtle. No use. I’m a turtle.

So I take heart that so much of the Bible is poetry. It is self-evident to me that poetry is not meant to be speed-read, but ordinarily read aloud. So I would encourage you to supplement your speed with slow savoring of the way things are written to be heard.

Consider this observation about what happens when poetry is read aloud and read well by a person who understands it.

“Even after almost three millennia of written literature, poetry retains its appeal to the ear as well as to the eye; to hear a poem read aloud by someone who understands it, and who wishes to share that understanding with someone else, can be a crucial experience, instructing the silently reading eye ever thereafter to hear what it is seeing.” (John Hollander, Committed to Memory: 100 Best Poems to Memorize, 1)

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One thought on “John Piper Doesn’t Read Very Fast”

  1. I agree that many things cannot be read (well) quickly. For me, ‘tough’ reading means that I cannot go more than a few words without being distracted by questions and nuances of terminology and embedded meaning. It’s quite annoying.

    On the other hand, most of us are certainly capable of reading at lightning speed… evidenced by our ability to race though a thriller novel. Or to read about the Packers’ latest failures. Somehow an appropriate reading speed is dictated by the content?

    Quoted from your post: “I would encourage you to supplement your speed with slow savoring of the way things are written to be heard”.

    Regarding Biblical poetry and Bible translations….. PB— do think that an appropriate English translation of Biblical poetry from the Hebrew should try to mimic the rhythm, meter or even the alliteration or acrostic features of the Hebrew??? This would surely be at the expense of the word-for-word accuracy of a more literal translation method. But maybe suggest that we’d get a lot more out of it….

    I have heard of Psalms being translated deliberately into a Chinese dialect in this way– in fact, intentionally, so that the Psalms can be sung to music.

    -B

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