Read the Bible in a year?

by Joe Bollig
joe.bollig@theleaven.org

Heeding advice from a blogging priest whose name I don’t remember, I decided not to just “give up” something for Lent, but to “take something on.”

Yeah, that’s the ticket! The positive approach!

OK, but what?

Once again, social media came to my rescue. Someone posted a “Read-the-Bible-in-a-Year” plan on Facebook, and that seemed like a pretty good thing. My usual approach is to jump around and skip the parts that bog me down — all the purity, sacrifice, genealogy and census stuff in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. 

All I had to do was to stick to the plan and I’d finish that cover-to-cover exodus (get it?) in a year.

The only problem was that the plan started Jan. 1, and Lent began March 6. I was more than two months behind. So, I decided I’d catch up. I’d buckle down and do two or three at a sitting. 

But it wasn’t long before I realized I was making a big, big mistake.

The Word of God was never meant to be wolfed down like a fast-food burrito. The best approach is to slowly and carefully read, and maybe even re-read, the text, and ponder over the meaning. Maybe even read the footnotes.

Also, God put every word in the Bible for a reason. It’s the story of God forming his people by divine revelation, which includes me and you. Thar’s gold in them thar pages, if you look. A more deliberate reading can reveal things. After all, as Dr. Scott Hahn (and others) have said, “the New Testament is concealed in the Old, and the Old Testament is revealed in the New.” 

And, so, I began the journey.

So far, it’s been pretty good. Sometimes it’s a slog, but if it were always easy it really couldn’t be called a spiritual discipline. Sometimes, the best lessons are learned with a little bit of work.

I’ve learned a few things on the way.

The first thing was that I could get through the “boring” parts of the first five books more easily by reading them out loud. Reading aloud made me slow down and really think about the sentences, rather than just breezing over the words, which is easy to do when I read silently to myself.

A second thing I found out was that I could get more inspiration and insight from the Bible by taking it in small bites at a time. The Scriptures need to be savored. 

And, finally, I learned that I can’t read about Moses and the departure of the Hebrews from Egypt without thinking about Charlton Heston. And Yul Brynner.

I am catching up and catching on. I stay on track with the calendar during the mornings and do the catch-up reading in the evenings (if I don’t fall asleep). The only book remaining is Exodus. 

After that, I’m going to have to find something else to do in the evenings — so I don’t waste my time with cat videos on YouTube.

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