Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Different Approach

When you read the Bible, how do you go about it? Do you use a study guide? Do you read straight through? Do you alternate between books of the Old Testament and the New Testament?

I've tried all of those methods, including reading the Bible through in a year - which was so fast I couldn't remember a lot of what I read. After my last group Bible study ended, I started reading the Bible straight through again (more slowly and purposefully this time!), but when I got to 1 & 2 Kings, I realized I was having a lot of trouble keeping up with who did what when. I thought about making some sort of timeline, though there are plenty I could use on the Internet.

Then I read something in 2 Kings (I believe) that referenced Jonah. The Jonah? Of the whale's belly fame? I looked into it and - yes, it was the same one! Well, what's he doing back here when he belongs several books away? I know the Bible is arranged categorically: history, wisdom, major and minor prophets, etc., but I always missed the references to many of the minor prophets in my readings in other parts. (I guess I was rushing through to keep on track so I could finish in a year...) This mention of Jonah stopped me in my tracks and made me wonder what else I had missed. I decided that instead of making a timeline and still missing a lot, I would read through the Bible chronologically.

I found a few chronological guides on the Internet. Of course, they're divided up to read it all in a year, but I'm not going to do that again. I'm going to take my time with it. And I decided I wasn't going to start over again with Genesis, although Job fits in there shortly after the introduction of Abram (between Genesis 11 & 12). I read over Genesis 11 to set the context and the time, then read through Job. I didn't spend a lot of time there because we just finished a year-long study of Job in our Sunday school class. (Actually it was more than a year...) After Job, I read another chapter or two of Genesis to continue with the flow of time. I did that here and there, reading a few of the Psalms that Moses or someone else had written during the Israelites' time of wandering in the desert or finally reaching the promised land.

Now I'm back to 1 Samuel, which has some of the Psalms interspersed throughout. I think I'm going to enjoy reading my Bible chronologically, especially since it will help me better understand the chain of events of all the kings, the split of the kingdom, and the Babylonian exile with events the minor prophets wrote about that happened at the same time.

If you've read through the Bible this way, I'd love to hear what your thoughts are. If you haven't, care to join me?


Mister Ginger said...

This is exactly what I'm currently doing -- using a chronological plan, but taking my time. I just moved from reading about David to reading about Solomon. One of the day's readings was a group of Psalms that I read three or four days before moving on to the next reading.

Ashley said...

Thanks, Mr. Ginger! I had already gotten through Saul, David, Solomon, and all the other kings when I changed my reading approach, but I'm back to Saul and David right now. I'm using some of Billy's commentaries, but I may pick your brain here and there, if you don't mind, since you're not too far ahead of me.