Thursday, May 11, 2006

Bible Reading Plan 

A couple of months ago, an unchurched friend of mine (were you to ask her at a party, she'd probably identify as agnostic, but if you were to ask her over the course of a longer, more detailed conversation, you might get something more) told me she wanted to read the Bible, but didn't know how to go about doing that in a way that would not defeat her. She had bought for herself an Oxford Annotated edition, a fine purchase, but was now daunted by the task at hand. I told her I'd work on something for her, and gave her for a birthday present an introductory book on the Bible aimed at lay people.

As I began to think about this, I realized that I didn't know how to go about reading the Bible (lectionary aside) in a way that would get you to the end without getting bored, frustrated, or too confused. So, I thought about it some more. The approach that came to mind is a narrative one, one that has in view the meta-narrative arch of the biblical books. It really is one story, from Genesis to Revelation, and I wanted to develop a plan for her, a first time Bible reader, that would capture that story and trace it through every book of the Bible. The idea being, after she had finished that, she could go back to parts that interested her and read further, delve deeper, and find some of the nit-picky stuff that would bog down and disappoint a first time reader. What I did not have in mind was another plan that would tell you you could read every word of the Bible in a year, like all those "special" Bibles you can buy at your local Christian retailer. I have yet to meet a person who made it past Numbers doing that.

As I began to work on it, I realized I had a larger project on my hands than I anticipated, as I wanted to do a good job on it. Well, finally, early this week I finished and sent it off to her. It includes every book of the Old and New Testaments, and, I believe, succeeds in tracing the meta-narrative of the Bible for a first time reader, so they get a feel for the overall arch of the Biblical story. I'm rather proud of it actually! I anticipate her feedback, though as she is a doctoral student, I may get it sometime around 2033. I also think I could develop this into a feasible plan to run in a parish. Which is getting closer and closer to a reality rather than some distant hope...I can't wait!



Well? Where is this brilliant plan? I want to steal it!

By Anonymous Court, at 1:01 AM  

You want to share the plan? Maybe we could offer some feedback too.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:11 AM  

I will be happy to share it, but as it is formatted currently, it is an eleven page Word document, so I will be happy to email it to you if you. Court, I've got your email address, and Anon. I'll need one for you.


By Blogger Ryan, at 11:31 AM  

Me too please! I think you have my email, but drop a comment on my page if you don't. Or, you know, get it from Beth or someone ;)

By Blogger Susie, at 12:35 PM  

Or, you know, just send it to Beth. :)

By Blogger Beth, at 2:13 PM  

Yes. What Susie said. (^_^)

By Blogger Jane Ellen+, at 10:59 AM  

This is something I'd be interested in as well, please

By Blogger Hudd, at 3:03 PM  

Ryan, I hope you are hearing loud and clear - this is a brilliant idea. As a church-i-fied gal, I humbly admit I could (like me, personally) use something like this, big time.
Maybe this is a larger project for a wider audience, you never know what God can do until you let God do what God can do.

By Anonymous rachel, at 11:33 PM  

I would like a copy as well!

In other news, I DO know someone who has gotten past Numbers by reading the Bible linearly: Lucia. She takes the approach of just reading, not studying, and it has helped her to become more familiar with the text.

Just one more example of how I married above me :)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:01 AM  

Could you email me a copy of the metanarrtive word document?



By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:31 PM  

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