Reading the Bible Chronologically

After I mentioned being interested in reading through the Bible chronologically, my friend Sheila loaned me her copy of The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order.  I brought it back to her last Thursday.

“Tell me you didn’t read through this already,” Sheila said.

“I finished it this morning!” I said.

Like Sheila, you may be rolling your eyes a bit at me reading the entire Bible in two and a half months, but bear with me while I tell you how that happened and why you might find yourself reading differently with this version.

1.The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order is formatted like a regular book, instead of having small text in two columns broken up into chapters.

I don’t know why that made such a big difference, but my eyes are used to reading the Bible in chapter chunks, so seeing the text in regular book format, with one column of normal-sized text made me mentally inclined to read more at once, and to integrate the text between chapters.  This version does list chapter and verse references in the margins as a reference, but it’s not inside the text.

2. The chronological format gave me a different context for familiar passages, and also encouraged me to keep reading.

I really loved the chronological format–reading the Psalms and prophets mixed with the history passages in the Old Testament, and the epistles mixed in with Acts in the New Testament was a very interesting perspective shift, and I often found myself continuing to read for long chunks of time because I enjoyed the format so much.  I have to caveat this point by saying that this version made an error in the placement of Job – although it’s one of the oldest books, the editors inexplicably put it in the middle of the Babylonian exile.  It might not have bothered me so much had we not studied about that in school this fall.

3. Reading chronologically in book format gave me a different perspective of the sweep of biblical narrative.

As I got into the format and organization of The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order, I found I wanted to read more and more at a time because I was feeling the momentum of the history unfold.  I didn’t want to read in tiny bits and miss that once I realized it.

Reading the Bible chronologically is different from meditative reading for study, but it gave me a different perspective on the Bible that I found helpful and interesting.

I’m looking forward to moving into more meditative reading now, but I really would recommend taking a couple of months and spending your Bible reading time getting the big picture of biblical history with a chronological Bible or reading plan.  I think both careful study and broad overview are important and helpful ways of approaching scripture.

Have you ever read the Bible chronologically before?


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