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Reading the Bible in a Year May 18, 2012

Filed under: Personal Growth — Meghan Hamilton @ 2:41 am
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 When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I read the Bible cover to cover twice, and a third time with a “Chronological Bible.”  (For those of you unfamiliar with the Christian Bible, it is not entirely in Chronological order and some of the passages are variations on the same story. )  At my church, we were challenged to a daily Bible reading program for the first part of the year.  It covered 100 passages that are often considered foundational to Christianity.  Now that is drawing to a close.  Another member of my church happened to send an email about Bible reading that got me thinking, “Now what?” 

So – now I embark on another quest to read the entire Bible in one year.  Will daily study of these scriptures change me?  I hope that they change me for the better.   Some of you may be thinking, “Oh boy!  She’s becoming one of those people…”  If, by “one of those people,” you think I am becoming a fanatic who persecutes people for disagreeing with my beliefs, rest assured, that is not who I am and I hope I will never be like that.   I hope to find a deeper spiritual connection and relationship with my God.  Through doing that, I hope to become a more loving and kind person.

Where did I begin this current quest?  A popular devotional, “Our Daily Bread,” includes a Bible in one year program.  I assume they started in January at the very beginning in Genesis 1.  However, I don’t like playing catch-up, and from previous study I am familiar enough with the beginning to start in the middle without getting completely confused.  So I looked up today’s reading and started there.  I am in the middle of Job.  An interesting starting point.  Already I am finding that I understand more than I did the last time I read that book. 

Has anyone else taken up this challenge?  How did you fare?  In my previous reads, I picked it up and put it down many times before completing the task.  Are you of a different belief system?  Have you tried a similar reading program?  I am interested in your thoughts and experiences.

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10 Responses to “Reading the Bible in a Year”

  1. nana1954 Says:

    Hi Meghan! I, too, am on a quest to read the entire Bible in one year. It is my New Year’s Resolution for 2012 and it is, quite possibly, the only New Year’s resolution I have ever kept. Here we are 1/2 way through May and I am still at it! Go me! The schedule I am following divides the Bible into 7 sections so it is not a Genesis to Revelation, cover to cover, read.

    I study religion from a historical perspective, minoring in Religious Studies, which is my passion. My sweet husband treated/rewarded me with a three-week journey to the Holy Land last Fall. It was, by far, the most incredible trip we have taken. He is a history buff but knows very little about THAT history, and attends church only on Christmas Eve. He was wowed in his own way!

    What am I learning? Because I prefer the historical perspective over a theological one, I am probably on a different page than most who take on this quest. Having seen so many of the sites that are mentioned in the Bible, I do feel as if a light bulb as been illuminated. David escapes from Saul and hides in a cave in Ein Gedi. I’ve been there. Moab isn’t just an incredibly beautiful red-rock recreational town in Utah — it is a place in Jordan (Transjordan?) that plays an integral part in the history of Israel. I have walked in the Garden of Gethsemane. I have visited the overly iconic churches that are built over the supposed sites of Jesus’ birth, crucifixion, and Last Supper. I do tend to be skeptical about many things and I do believe much of the Bible is metaphorical rather than historically accurate. Historical Biblical/Jesus scholar, Marcus Borg, enlightened me several years ago when he visited my church. Since that time, I have read scholars such as Bart Ehrman, Jonathan L. Reed, Karen Armstrong, Karen King, and Elaine Pagels.

    My background in the Bible began about 20 years ago when we moved to Utah. We are not Mormon and it was imperative that I discover where my belief system lies so that I was better able to direct my children in a direction I was comfortable with. I began studying the Bible with a group of women from different backgrounds, but because the group met at an Evangelical church, the studies did have an evangelical/Baptist flair. I learned a great deal from those studies and those women — one of which is that I cannot believe the Bible literally, as many of them do. And so, began my journey to the historical perspective of religious study. I am still on that journey and I feel God tugging at me to do something with the knowledge I have gained over the past several years. As I read the entire Bible this year, it will be interesting to see where God leads me. And, you have inspired me to possibly begin my own blog about my experiences!!!!

    If you are interested, I did blog about our Holy Land trip:

    Blessings and good luck on your quest!

    • That must have been an amazing trip! I love history as well and would jump at the chance to see the Holy Land. It always sheds new light on history when I can see where it happened.

      Though I am a Christian and a “believer,” I don’t take everything literally and try to look at the historical context of the stories recorded in the Bible for reference. Good luck on your quest as well. I am happy to have inspired someone. 🙂

      Blessings to you.

  2. Tim Schaffer Says:

    Oh no! I posted a comment and it disappeared into oblivion!! (In hindsight, I think I forgot to click “post comment…” Huh… details details…) Well, here I go again:

    I tried to read the Bible in a year once! And succeeded… in reading the Bible in about 20 months instead. But it was a good experience nevertheless. I found that the pace needed to accomplish the task in a year tempted me too much to plow through passages just to get them under my belt, or read on nights when I was too sleep deprived to comprehend much. But reading it all the way through was great: it made me read things that my own inclinations hadn’t gotten around to before, and I began to have a broader understanding of Scripture. My particular devotional prescribed something from the Old Testament, something from the New Testament, a Psalm, and a couple of proverbs each day. That was a good mix.

    I’m curious: Is there any particular type of scripture you find especially difficult to connect with? I am always a bit embarrassed to admit that I find it hard to get excited about Psalms. (What kind of English major am I that don’t enjoy the poetry???)

    I look forward to hearing more…

    • I have difficulty with lists of names – I have never been good at remembering anyone’s name, let alone people I haven’t met. Geneology holds little interest for me (I know – practically a sin in our family! Ha!) Also – I don’t like repeated stories unless it’s from a completely different angle that truly adds something new. That was one of the drawbacks to reading the Chronological Bible. Some of the stories really are the same even when told by different authors.

      Because I am following a dated devotional series, I have skipped right over Numbers for the time being. So I don’t have that challenge early on. I am hoping that by the time I get there next year I will be in enough of a habit of reading that it won’t be so toilsome.

    • nana1954 Says:

      I like how you needed more time to “plow through passages . . . .” Because I use the New Oxford Annotated Study Bible (NRSV) with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, I find I spend a great deal of time reading the notes. Sometimes, I get more from the scholarly notes than I do from reading the passages. As many studies as I have done, I still find the Hebrew Bible long and tedious and dull in parts.

      This year’s quest: to read the entire (Protestant) Bible. Next year’s quest: to read the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books and the essays that are included in this version. The following year’s quest: The Quran.

      I laughed at your comment about the Psalms and you being an English major who does not enjoy poetry. I am related to Edna St. Vincent Millay, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and I can’t get into it, either. When reading a novel where there is poetry, I skim over it. Same with the Bible. It gives a new meaning to “speed reading!”

      • Timbo Says:

        Hee hee hee – I am a little embarrassed to see that my comments here from May are very similar to those that I just made on some other posts… Apparently I have the same thoughts whenever I think about reading the Old Testament. I suppose that means there’s a ring of genuineness about them…? 🙂

        I’ve been trying to read a book here and there from the Catholic Apocrypha to slowly make my way through it. I really enjoyed some – in particular Tobit and the Song of the Three Children – but then tried listening to an audio version of Baruch and 1 Maccabees… I found them to be such a snooze that I’ve taken a long break since then. 😛

  3. I read the new testament for the first time a few years ago (it’s not a book of my faith) and it allowed me to grow in my understanding of others and their relationship with their faith, I am slowly working towards reading important books from many faiths.

    • I think it’s important to understand where people are coming from. I would like to read a Qu’ran at some point. I think we may even have one as my husband wanted to read it a few years ago. We become far less judgemental and far more compassionate when we seek to understand people instead of just making judgements about them based on their faith (or their decision to disbelieve any or all religions).

      • nana1954 Says:

        In my quest to study religion, not just Christianity, I met a Muslim woman last summer and attended a Mosque prayer service with her. Quite the experience — the Imam seemed scary. Because the women are in a separate room from the men, he did not know a non-Muslim was visiting. Most of the service was in English. At one point he said, “And, where the Christians get it wrong . . . .” My body language spoke volumes. This is where prejudice comes from — thinking that one religion is “right” and others are “wrong.” He SHOULD and COULD have said, “And, where the Christians differ from us is . . . .”

        I have since seen the Muslim woman at other events, sitting together at an event about Catholicism. One of the local colleges hosted a series of lectures by people representing different religions. Other than a few students and the Director of Spiritual Life, I was the only person to attend all the lectures. My Muslim friend and I monopolized the poor Catholic during the Q & A. 🙂 She from a Muslim perspective had her questions, me from a Protestant perspective had my own set of questions. The comment from the Catholic, to me, was, “You are being called.” 🙂 Wow! I know I am, I just need to figure out where God is calling me.

      • Timbo Says:

        I’m afraid I have to disagree with you here, Nana, and I hope you won’t mind my sharing a different perspective… The differences between religions are profound and important. Even the three that trace themselves back to Abraham – for all the stories and moral truths they share, they differ vastly in many other essentials. If someone chooses and commits themself to a particular faith, typically it means that they believe that one to be correct and others wrong. That belief should be expressed honestly and openly – especially when among other committed believers. To give an analogy from another sphere of life, think of our country’s recent political conventions: would you expect, say, Bill Clinton to have tamed down his address to imply that the differences between the two parties were mere differences of opinion rather than matters of right vs wrong? If people can’t help but express their convictions in such clear terms in reference to a government election, what can we expect when the convictions of faith are at stake?

        (I need to ask: doesn’t your response to the Imam – a passionate conviction that he shouldn’t have said what he did – show that he ran up against one of your essential beliefs about religion? Would you in that moment have said, “well, he is just different than me…” or “he is wrong!”)

        I wouldn’t say prejudice comes from bold confidence in your own faith, or a bold rejection of another’s. Those convictions are part of living life and being human. Rather, prejudice comes from dehumanizing those that are different from you – saying they are less valuable, don’t matter, etc. I try to learn about other religions because I want to love the people who believe them – understand where they come from, find the parts I appreciate, recognize the differences, figure out where our common ground lies – even try to understand how to share my own faith. There is a sort virtue in saying, “We may be different, but any difference we find shall be disregarded as unimportant.” It elevates community, but by sacrificing acknowledgment of diversity and conviction of belief. It requires people to dilute or give up things for which we are willing to live and die… I believe the stronger virtue is to say, “There are huge, important differences between us, but I will do everything I can to love you.”

        I hope you don’t mind my going on… Do you ever have thoughts that have been floating around your head for months suddenly crystalize unexpectely? (shrugs)

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