Lining the Text


January 17-23, 2016

Lining the Text

Biblical Text: 1 Corinthians 1:3-17
Guidelines for Individual Playdates

Value of This Activity:

Transforming prose into poetry allows us to see new things in the texts — pauses where we rushed ahead, metaphors we hadn’t noticed, disruptions and connections that tickle our mind or heart in new ways. Reading backwards through our newly created poem shakes up our expectations of the text.

Items Needed

Bible. Pen and Paper

Spend a moment in quiet prayer. If you wish, begin by freewriting for 3-5 minutes. Just let the pen empty out your concerns and thanksgiving for the day. Breathe.

How to Play . . .

  1. Read through 1 Corinthians 1:3-17. You may wish to select just a portion of the text for this activity. Or, split the text into 2 or 3 sections and do a new poem each day.
  2. Now, copy the text out in to your notebook but “line” it out as in a poem. Do not change or add any words. Just use the words in your Bible. For example,

    Galatians 3:26-27, might look like this:

    For you are all
    children of God by faith
    in Christ Jesus. For
    as many of you as have been baptized
    into Christ
    have put on Christ.

    But that could also be done in this fashion:

    you are all children
    of God
    by faith in Christ Jesus.
    For as many of you as
    have been baptized into Christ
    have put on

    There is no “correct” way to do this. You may capitalize each line, as you wish. I encourage you to try it a couple of different ways. “Interrupt” the line in odd places, just to see how it sounds.

  3. Read each version out loud, pausing ever so slightly at the end of each line. After you’ve studied your poems just a bit, select the one you like best. Then go on to step 4.
  4. Now, read your selected poem backwards! Start with the last line. Read that line, just normally. Then read the next line up.  (So, in the first example, above, I would start my reading by saying aloud, “have put on Christ,” then “into Christ,” then “as many of you as have been baptized,” and so forth.) After reading the text backwards are there adjustments you would like to make in your “lining of the text”?
  5. You may wish to jot down things you notice by doing this activity. Why is playing with the text in this way helpful?


  1. After step 3, above, you may wish to “fiddle” with your poem a bit. Go ahead and add some words. Strengthen a metaphor. Condense, expand. Keep it poetic, though — and lined out. After you’ve got an edited version that pleases you, go to step 4, above, reading your revised poem backwards.
  2. If a group is doing this, everyone can read their “backward poem” aloud. Or, participants can swap poems and read each other’s poems backwards and aloud.
  3. Put your poem to music! Just make it up!

In Closing . . .

Take a moment to breathe and let the playtime settle around you. Carry your curiosity and insights and questions into the day.

Playdate Reference Material:

Poetry As a Mode of Thought

Guidelines for Individual Playdates
Playdates with Scripture Email ARCHIVES

Creative Commons License
Playdates with Scripture by Virginia Wiles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

If you’ve received this Playdate because someone has forwarded it to you, you can sign up for your own subscription at

Pass it along!