David, who according to Biblical tradition wrote the Psalms, was a shepherd. Moses who inspired the first five books of the Bible spent much of his life as a shepherd. Samuel, Samson, and John the Baptist were ascetics.
The great prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures, Elijah and Elisha, were reclusive and mysterious. Other prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures, such as Isaiah and Hosea, likewise seem to have had monastic, or at least deeply ascetic, leanings. The Greek Testament tells us that Jesus “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed,” sometimes prayed all night, and “fasted in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights” (see Lk. 5:16, 6:12) Most of the scribes who copied the scriptures by hand for centuries were monastic.[i]
In other words, they were all people accustomed to spending successive days and hours of solitude steeped in silence. This was their context. This is what I call the inherent mysticism of the Bible. Many of the people who wrote and inspired the Bible were steeped in silence and stillness. This is the premise of my next book, Be Still and Listen: Experience the Presence of God in Your Life.
[i] One of the primary employs of the monks at Qumran was hand copying Hebrew Scriptures (see studies on Qumran). One of the primary undertakings of the monks in Ireland from Saint Patrick on was hand copying the Bible (see How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill).
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