Sunday, April 27, 2008

Reading through the entire Bible

I've been a Christ-follower since March 29, 1999. I read a lot. And I also spend quite a bit of time studying and reading the Bible. But admittedly, until this year, there were parts of the Bible that I had never read. So last July, I set out to read the entire Bible cover to cover.

You may remember that my father died last June. I took the opportunity to bring back a bunch of his study materials, including an unused Notemaker's Bible (NLT). Last July, I decided to use that Bible to read through the entire thing. The NLT makes for an easy read, and the Notemaker's Bible has plenty of room for writing.

I didn't actually start in Genesis and read through to the end, nor did I use an suggested one-year Bible reading plan. I sort of had my own system for the read-through.

  1. I started reading at Exodus 19 and worked my way through Deuteronomy.

  2. Then I picked up in Luke and read through Revelation, skipping John.

  3. I simultaneously read through the Poetry books while reading the rest of the Bible, because, for me, the Poetry books are the least interesting. Though I do now have greater appreciation for them and there were definitely a few Psalms that really stood out to me.

  4. Having completed most of the New Testament, I went back and read Joshua through Esther.

  5. I then went back and read Matthew and Mark.

  6. Then I read Isaiah through Lamentations.

  7. Then I read John.

  8. I read Hosea through Malachi, quickly realizing that I had never read some of these books.

  9. I saved Ezekiel and Daniel for almost last because of their oft-maligned End-Times content.

  10. Lastly, I finished with Genesis and the first half of Exodus

You may not see it, but there was a method to my madness.

  • I read through the Book of the Law first because I felt that it was the foundation needed to comprehend everything after it. I skipped Genesis and Exodus 1-18 because I felt that I was too familiar with the narrative and I needed to start in more unfamiliar ground.

  • I started in Luke because it is my favorite gospel and it flows right into Acts and the Epistles. (When asked, I always suggest that people start in Luke. It is an easier read than John. Do you really expect a new or non-believer to understand the first paragraph of John?)

  • Reading the History Books is easy and even easier if you've got a timeline handy (its even better if you are able to place the Prophets within that timeline as well.) The History Books have some awesome stories worthy of being made into Rated-R movies that could compete with the likes of Pulp Fiction and The Departed. Seriously folks, there are some intriguing stories in there.

  • Isaiah through Lamentations was good reading, but not easy. I love it when I see Jesus in the Old Testament, though, I get really excited about it.

  • I had actually forgotten that I had skipped John, so it was a breath of fresh air when I realized it. (It was easy to see what I had covered based on the scribbling along the margins and the notes at the bottom of the pages.)

  • Hosea through Malachi was awesome - I know a lot of people who need to read these books. I think that they really speak to our generation. Its all about empty worship - a generation of people that "go through the motions."

  • Ezekiel and Daniel weren't as bad as I'd thought they'd be. Talk about a contrast though, Daniel is continually blessed in an earthly sense, and Ezekiel just gets crapped on over and over again. Literally, at one point God has Ezekiel cooking his food with poop. And that's before he kills his wife as a sermon illustration.

  • I believe that it was fitting to end my reading with the Beginning - Genesis. Genesis is well-trod, easy reading. I didn't want to just read the "easy stuff" first, so I saved Genesis for last.

Where do I go from here? Glad you asked. There were plenty of question marks scribbled throughout the margins; places that I struggled to understand, but I didn't want to get bogged down by beating my head against a wall. Maybe now, I will go back and delve deeper into those question marks. If you are one of my mentors or peers, expect some emails to come your way.

Obviously, one never stops reading and meditating on the Bible, but having been a Christian for almost a decade, it was starting to weigh on me that I had never systematically read through the entire Book. It took me about ten months to read through about 1500 pages. That's about 5 pages a day. Not too bad.


gloselle said...

Mind if I comment?

Where you go from here, Lew, is the pseudopigraphia--the books that didn't make it into the canon of the Bible. And look at the Gospel of Thomas, which some think of as an early draft of the gospel materials.

There are a lot of good books out there about these texts--particularly the New Testament ones.


revolution said...

not a bad idea. that's something i wouldn't have thought of....

actually, i think it would concern me less if there weren't as many good books out there about the texts. less of a choice makes it easier to choose.

i'll figure it out though, thanks.

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