Fun fact about me: in all of my life, and all of my studies and all of my teaching positions, i STILL have yet to read through the entire Bible cover-to-cover.
Now, I’m pretty confident I’ve read most of the biblical text, but in the long heralded tradition of going through the entire text in a single year, I have yet to join the ranks of the faithful.
And yes, that’s pretty embarrassing to me.
Of course, as with all failed disciplines, every year I say I’ll do it and I start and it just never happens. And I’ve always thought that the truly spiritual person would be able to muscle his way through on his own. And after about a decade of that fiction, I’ve decided (by way of homage to sanity) to try something else: I’m inviting you, dear readers, to join me.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the mountains of Colorado it’s that hiking is more fun with friends. And without friends, you’re probably not going to go hiking.
For this hike, we’ll be using Blue Letter Bible’s chronological plan. It takes the text and reorganizes it into a (conservative) timeline.
The pace is a doable 3 chapter-ish a day, or 15-30mns depending on how quickly you’re reading. If you want to know how long each book will take, I’ve done the math for both the Old Testament (here) and the New Testament (here).
I’ll be using YouVersion to track my progress. You can join me and share your progress. On your mobile device, just tap this link: https://bible.com/p/10109426/2f28cbfe3083a43c6c2aa6dd7870215f
Honestly, I use to think that sort of soliclization and gamification of a Bible reading plan was pretty lame. But in true Tevia form, I have to acknowledge that, “on the other hand“, the snobby way hasn’t produced the results I’ve wanted. So I’ll try it the dumb way and see what happens.
As for translations, the app lets you read from any version you want with a simple tap. I’ll do a post on picking a Bible versions, but for now the short answer is: for this project, your best option is the one that you’ll actually read. This is a reading plan, not a studying plan, so readability (whatever that means to you) is your best criteria.
Full disclosure, I started this plan back in August. That lasted a month, so I’m about 30 days into the plan, but I figure the new year is as good a time as any to keep going.
That means I can only tell you what I’ve learned from the multiple times I’ve started: the trip starts obviously enough going through Genesis, but after Primeval History (Genesis 11), we then go to Job (because Job offering sacrifices on behalf of his children seems to suggest the story takes place during the pre-law time of the forefathers). That can be kind of grueling, but it also means we’ve knocked out a whole book by Day 15.
PRO TIP: It takes 2 hours to read Job in a single sitting. So if you want to give yourself a little cushion, this is a great place to work ahead a bit.
Then we go back and pick up Genesis 13 and follow the story of Abraham, Issac, Jacob and Joseph, the whole book of Exodus, the whole book of Leviticus, and then through to Numbers 15, where we have our first chronological insert with Psalm 90. That gets us to day 60.
Then we finish Numbers and all of Deuteronomy, ending with our second insert of Psalm 91 on day 81.
And that wraps the Pentateuch and Job. It will also be where this Samwise stops and says, “One more step and this will be the furthest away from shire I’ve ever been.”
Go get ‘em Rudy.
Then we’ll turn to Joshua, Judges and Ruth, we’ll spend five days on 1 Samuel which will experience frequent inserts of the Psalms as we hit the life of David.
That’s when things start getting really fun and we get hints of what the “Chronological Bible” is promising. As we roll into 2 Samuel, we get more psalms and some Chronicles inserts. We’ll keep bouncing between the historical books and the Psalm until day 153 when we get to read the entire Song of Songs in a single day.
I remember when I was at Multnomah and had to read the “Cantacle of Canticles” three times in a morning before class. That was…rough. But this plan only call for one reading, so we’ll leap like gazelle through it and then roll into Proverbs, when we’ll read most of it in 7 days, stopping after chapter 24 to go back to the story of the kings.
Next up we’ll go back and fourth between 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. We’ll finally finish Proverbs and also Ecclesiastes.
Then we continue Kings, Chronicles, and Psalms until we meet our first Prophet on day 188, where the plan puts Jonah after 2 Kings 14 and 2 Chronicles 25.
On that day, we get to what I think is the real pay off of the plan: we’ll read through Israel’s history with the prophetic sections inter cut into the history. This puts the prophets back in their historical context and I think we’ll make everything make MUCH more sense.
We’ll keep doing that until we hit the end of Malachi on Day 273. Having finished 3/4 of the material, it’s all down hill from there as we read synoptically through the gospels, and then hang all the epistles on the Acts timeline. We’ll close out with Revelation.
JUMPING IN POINTS
If this is too short of notice for you, my encouragement is to jump in whenever. As a chronic quitter, I can say that staying current is a better way to make progress than catching up. So just blow off missed days and keep going.
If you want to jump in at key sections, those dates will be:
Anytime in January/Day 36 –this is where I’m picking up. It’s right at the 10 Commandments, so it’s as good a good place to come in.
March 29/Day 82 — when we start the History/Prophets sections starting with Joshua.
October 27/Day 274 — when we start Gospels/Acts/Letters.
Looking forward to this journey!