May 26, 2020

How Many Do You Have?

Today’s guest blogger is Pat K. Entering a new year for evangelicals usually brings with it new resolutions to read the Bible more. Pat has some good questions, thoughts, and suggestions about this. This is where the rubber of “sola scriptura” meets the road of what we actually do with the Bible.

The above picture shows my bibles. Not all of them though. This is just what I could dig up in the ten minutes I devoted to taking this photo. It does not include the four or five pocket New Testaments that I know are laying around somewhere or the paperback version of the KJV that I could not find. I’d like to think I am an exceptional case, being obsessed with theology and all, but I suspect I am not. Most of my friends have two or three copies, and several have many more than I do.

How many do you have?

I’ll tell you why I ask.

Recently, several different streams of thought converged as I attended worship services over the Holidays, and during the course of my internet travels. I spend a lot of time reading, writing, and commenting in the blogosphere, discussing and debating the Scriptures and theology.

Based on my observations both on the net and in the churches I have attended, Christians as a whole don’t seem to be very familiar with the Bible. I include myself in this category. Surely some are more well versed than others, but I rarely run into people with a real working knowledge and grasp of the scriptures. I am not talking about the ability to access our pocketfuls of go to proof texts. .

I have been ashamed at times reading John Calvin, Martin Luther, and other reformers, by their intimate knowledge of not only the details of the biblical narrative but also it’s breadth. In forming and defending their teachings they were masterful in their use of the Bible. They did this not having the access to the scriptures that we take for granted today. Before the printing press, bibles were only found in churches and monastaries, and were very large and elaborate hand written volumes. Even after the advent of the printing press it was quite a while before the common man had a bible in his home.

This was brought to a head personally while doing some research on Islam.

In Islam there is a decided emphasis on memorizing and being able to properly recite the Quran… All of it. In the original language.

There are schools for it. They have a number of different traditions that teach set bodies of techniques to accomplish this goal. I heard once that to be an Imam you had to memorize the entire Quran. I have not been able to verify this particular fact, but the volume of material on the net and the seriousness with which Quranic memorization is pursued, leads me to believe that it is probably true in certain Islamic traditions. They call the ages between five years old and twenty three years of age ‘the golden years’ for memorization.

I wonder what shape our churches would be in if to be a pastor you had to memorize the whole bible, or large portions of it, or even just a handful of selected books of the Old and New Testaments. How would our chuches be different if 10 to 15% of the laity memorized two or three books from the New Testament?

How many of us can recite the ten commandments or the Lord’s prayer from memory? Yeah, I know a bunch of Lutherans and Anglicans who can, but what about Psalm 23 or the Sermon on the Mount, or the first chapter of the Gospel of John? ( The numbers drop off drastically here…)

For the sake of argument forget hardcore memorization of the scriptures. How many of us have read the bible from cover to cover, Genesis to the Revelation, just like you would read a novel?

Several years after I became a Christian I read the Bible from cover to cover. Subsequently, I read the New Testament completely through twice. That was a while ago though.

Now I read plenty of passages in my devotions and study, and hear lots of scripture in church and bible study, and read entire books of the bible from time to time, but I have not engaged in a large scale systematic reading of the scriptures in years. Neither have I committed significant portions of scripture to memory. Mark Driscoll recently interviewed an eighty-six year old pastor who was finishing up his 358th read through of the entire bible. That guy has forgotten more scripture than I know.

One of the things that I vivdly remember when I read the entire bible was how much of the OT is woven into every page of the NT. Not just phrases and quotes, but allusions and turns of phrase and tone. Some time after that I heard a ‘noted biblical authority’ expounding on the idea that the Old and New Testaments were far less related to each other than Christians thought. It was plain to see that he was talking out his posterior and just hadn’t done the reading.

So what is the take away here? I’m not big on making people (or myself) feel guilty. New Year’s resolutions don’t do much for me either. At the same time I think we as a people need to take a look at our grasp of God’s Word and be honest about where we are and about what we need to change.

Its no secret that the church is in trouble on many fronts, and that many of us are hard pressed spiritually. Being more familiar and well versed in God’s Word is one of the best moves we can make both personally and corporately.

The following links may be of help and encouragement as you consider these things.

Ryan Ferguson recites(preaches) Hebrews, chapters 9 and 10.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M52nUtfk3Jw

Here is a series of free e-books on the New Reformation Press site that are great for those new to reading their bibles.(NRP was given the rights to distribute them for free, and you may copy and share them if you find them to be of value.)

Ten Commandments of Bible Reading – Things to know before you start reading.

The Bible in Chronological Order – This is a complete reading plan, placing the entirety of the Bible in chronological order.

12 Obstacles to Reading the Bible – Common obstacles to reading and understanding the scriptures

Elsewhere on the net-18 Tricks to Memorize More Scripture – A helpful blog post that provides some good tips on getting started.

Comments

  1. I spent 59 years in churches, graduated with honors from Bible college, A student in Greek. But I’ve come to the point where I no longer care how much Bible someone knows; I think the real issue is how much Bible they live. I’ve known too many “Bible scholars” who were eaten up with pride and rode roughshod over people. I had a Christian Education professor who was alway reminding us, “Learning has not taken place until there is change in the life of the learner.”

    • Very, very true.

      Today I was thinking about this line I heard: “Loving others will deepen our knowledge of God” – it is usually vice versa that we think. We usually think that by feeding more stuff to our brains, by knowing more ABOUT God will lead to knowing God better, which will make us able to love others better. Not true. I have seen many people who KNEW, but had a very cold heart. They knew things from heart but the simplest Gospel truths of forgiveness and love were very far from their lives. “The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love–so you can’t know him if you don’t love. ” (1Jn 4:8, The Message)

      However I totally agree that we should start to memorize more scripture. Yes, even whole books and passages. My grandparents lived under persecution, they know what value memorized scripture is.

    • while i agree 100%, i think many have used this very reasoning as an excuse not to read the Bible. what do i mean? the attitude of: well, if i’m not seeing a direct life change or “results” after reading the Bible, i guess it’s not worth it.

      i wonder if we’ve lost an appreciation of good ole-fashioned obedience and discipline when it comes to many aspects of Christian living. we in the west want quick results, so allowing the Scripture to form us over time isn’t very attractive. we don’t have time for that!

      • I would reply in a different way. Too many of the followers of the Protestant Reformers–but not the actual Reformers–are so afraid of “works-righteousness–that they fear that to insist on obedience is to fall into the clutches of the Law. In effect, they have made obedience dependent on an emotion of wanting to be obedient rather than on a decision to be obedient regardless of emotions.

    • That’s a very Pauline introduction to a comment. Beautiful.

    • it can be both

  2. Delta Kilo says

    Of course, living it is most important… but how do you know how to “live” the Bible without reading it and knowing what it says about how to live it? I’d venture to say that many, if not most Christians, have never even read it through once. If you’re unable to read, well o.k. But for the rest of us, why not have at least read it once?

  3. It is true of many Christians today [myself included] that we are often simply “New Testament Christians” and not biblical Christians………

  4. I think it’s important and helpful to read books of the Bible rapidly over as few days as possible. In other words, rather than reading a letter of Paul’s a few verses one day, waiting three days before picking up the Bible again, then reading a few more verses, etc—try to read the whole book in just a few sittings, including at least *some* reading every day. Whether it’s a long OT book like Isaiah or a shorter but very dense NT book like Romans, reading a book in a short time keeps the concepts fresh in one’s mind from chapter to chapter and helps one perceive much better the continuity and overall theme and structure far better. There are plenty of good arguments for slow, meditative study as well, but I’m just suggesting an approach which I’ve found very powerful over the years.

    Thanks for the good subject for thought today—whether reading slow or fast…read!

    • A couple years ago, I was leading a bible study and the folks wanted to do Romans. So, I told them we could on one condition: everyone had to take a few hours sometime in the next week to read the whole thing in one or two sittings. It made for a much better study. The first time I did that was absolutely amazing.

      That said, there’s a place for the slower-paced way, too. More of a study than a reading.

  5. I read the Bible straight through a few years ago, and then embarked on that path again last year. I only got through the Old Testament that second time around, so this year I’ll read through the New Testament. Anyway, the point I want to make is that even after reading it through, and reading parts a second time, I was picking up new stuff. And I mean vast amounts of new stuff. Honestly, I think it might take me 358 times through in order to get this stuff.

  6. One very helpful thing I have learned is NOT to read the Bible like a novel, because it isn’t a novel. Instead, it’s to look at the Bible like a filing cabinet. You pull out one file and it’s got, say, a set of laws. You pull out another and it’s a history. You pull out another and it’s a letter. It made the whole thing make more sense, and also helped give me permission to yawn through some bits while still recognizing their position and importance.

  7. A couple weeks ago I decided to make reading the Bible a priority this year. Since we are people of the book, it would be good to know the book. (then we can live it). So I started with Professor Grant Horner’s Reading system (google it) for the mornings (about 35min).(I started 12/26) It is a system of 10 chapters from 10 different books. I also started the chronology reading plan at night (15min).

    Here’s what I can tell ya… I just can’t wait for my next reading!!! I have been a Christian for 30 years and God has used reading His Word to put a new spring in my step.

    Thank you for Pat for your insight…

  8. Good post. It’s amazing how many tools and luxuries we have that can aid us in going through the Bible. I speak especially of the two great Audio Dramatized Bibles that came out last year — the Word of Promise and The Bible Experience. That’s a great way to go through the entire Bible — on your way to work (esp. if you have a longer commute like me).

    How many of you have taken advantage of these new Audio Bibles? How have they helped you improve your Bible reading habits?

    Thanks again for the good challenge.

    • Sandy Bishop says

      I have been listening to The Bible Experience while driving around running errands, etc. for the past 2 years. It’s surprising how much you can cover just listening in short 15 minute bursts. I’ve made it through the entire Bible and am just beginning round 2 through the NT. I am continually amazed at how I “hear” things that I missed when reading. Audio versions definitely add a new dimension to appreciating the Bible. A have convinced 2 friends to try it and they have had similar experiences.

      • Christiane says

        If you ever hear the Word read allowed, with pauses between ‘thought constructs’, you will experience even more discovery.
        The allowance for a period of contemplation of the words is an added aid to allowing you to go deeper into those words.
        Sometimes its not the ‘amount’ we read, so much as how we allow ourselves the time to be immersed in, and renewed by those words.
        Like going to a banquet or a buffet, it’s not a ‘contest’.
        We need some time to digest that with which we have been nourished.

  9. a few years ago i stumbled on a post on the Jesus Creed blog of Scot McKnight where he was encouraging seasoned pastors to give advice to new pastors. one pastor said that he wished he would have been more familiar with the BIble in the early years of his ministry. his main point: the people in our churches are gifted and wise in many areas, but the one area they demand the pastor have some knowledge is in the Bible.

    i realized that in my own ministry i was reading the Bible only to prepare sermons, lessons, Sunday school, etc. i have since changed my approach. i have tried, emphasis on tried, to read the BIble through twice a year. that’s my goal.

  10. 28, that’s the number of bibles that I have,(21 if counting uniqueness of version) not counting the 30 of same version that I have for leading a youth bible study. That was the first question, right? Here is the follow-up. I have thought at lot about all of these translations and paraphrases that have become the norm these days.

    At a food court in a mega-mall, where everyone eats at a different place, and comes and sits together once they have their food. It does bring a lot of differing ideas and perspectives to the table. Some people care what the other people are eating, while others don’t. Some people think that their slice of pizza is the only food anyone should eat. Some think that pizza is nice, but a burger is also nice. Some don’t care what they eat as long as it makes their stomach feel full, and doesn’t make them feel bad after. Some folks are on self-proscribed diets, and want to limit how much they eat, lest they change their shape inadvertently.

    Now when it comes to dinner conversation, it changes up. Some folks are buffet critics, which are only interested in how many different things they have tried. Some are chefs who like to sit down with a specially prepared meal and dissect its content and character. Some don’t want to talk about the food at all. Some folks only want to teach how to cook it or how to eat it, but not eat it themselves.

    When a group of people sit down at table and share the same food, whatever food it is, they have a connectedness of experience. The individual is still present, with the individual’s different perspectives present, and the individuals different life experiences brought with them. When these two things come together, the community of individuals and sharing the same food, even though it has the same ingredients and the same preparation, it is received differently by each individual.

    The individual is enough of a distraction from knowledge of the nutrition and sustenance found in food, without the distraction of everyone eating different food. I know that people don’t want to eat the same food every night, that is the part of how the individual distracts. If we all ate alone, this wouldn’t be a problem. But we all live in some level of community, whether that is with a roommate a spouse, or with 5 generations under the same roof, with brothers, sisters, cousins and like stuffed into the cupboards. In this community, communal time is best shared in unity. The unity at the table is demonstrated by what is on the table, more than anything else, even who is sitting there. In the past some people were fed different meals in a household based on what their station was in that household. Since the people in the different stations were all people, the unity that was not there merely because they all shared a similar location, would have been achieved if they had shared the same table of food.

    A shared table of the same food does distract us from our differences and focus our attention on the unity and equality of our shared experience. It allows us to look across the table and know where the other person is coming from when they tell us what they think about the food that we are also sharing. With many people sharing the same food, and sharing thoughts on the same food, it becomes learning experience with no rival. The memories of that food would be cemented in that person for a lifetime afterword, especially if it was good food, prepared by a master chef. After learning in such a shared, common, and unifying way, it would boost the confidence of a participant to talk about this food with someone else who was not there, since they could draw on the communal understanding that they had received in eating this same food together. After this, that person who had heard of this food would likely be salivating by the end of the conversation. This would not happen if the food was not the focus of a meal but the individuals that each ate some food together, not needing to concern themselves with what anyone else wanted to eat, because there were so many choices, that they could go what they want, and we could get what we want, when we get back to the table together, we can talk about we did, and what choice we made independent of what the others did, and what I wanted, and what I like, and what I ……

  11. Songs for the Broken says

    I have 4 bibles right now: KJV, New Living, Living, and ESV.

    I wanted to share something that happened to me once. When I was in photo school, a friend invited me to her church. It was a really hardcore pentecostal holiness church, not so much in terms of the manifestations gifts, but in terms of really hard teaching on sin, repentance, and very heavy emphasis on prayer. I’d never been anywhere like that before and haven’t been since. On about 3 different levels, that day permanently changed the way I look at God.

    One of the things that happened is pertinent to this post. It was right before New Years, and the pastor challenged his congregation to begin the New Year by reading the bible through in the month of January. Here’s what he said:

    “I know it seems like it isn’t possible, but it is. It will take all of your spare time, but it is possible.”

    So I took him up on it, and did it. I was out of work at the time so that helped. Just went through book by book, all the way. I tried to actually comprehend what I was reading without getting into details. It gave me a sort of broad overview of the role of God in history that I hadn’t previously had and don’t really have now. When you go through scripture that fast, when God is reminding the Israelites of stuff he did earlier in their history, you remember it, and you get to see how he worked out his plan over time.

    I would have benefitted some from a chronological reading plan, but up to about the book of Job it is pretty much chronological anyway. It was great. It’s been about 5 or 6 years. I should probably do that again. Perhaps you should too. I would recommend it to anyone.

    By the way, the pastor’s wife is struggling with colon cancer now and could use prayer. Her name is Jan Greenley and her husband’s name is Ray. I haven’t been back to their church, ever, but am grateful for what God used them to do that day.

    • Songs for the Broken says

      Oh, sorry to double post. Just wanted to mention that in the Jewish (and Messianic) tradition, they have a series of weekly readings, which, if followed, result in reading the Torah through in a year. A lot of people do that.

      I also wanted to comment that the imams having to memorize the Koran is not that much different from the rabbis having to memorize the torah. Like you said, Chaplain Mike, there’s not much of that in Christianity (at least in this country! not so in countries where the word of God is harder to come by!).

      • I am keen on Jewish traditions- they can really help with hermeneutics.

        One I found to be of great intrest is also to do with weekly readings;

        A messianic Jew theologian told us, that certain Jews would read through Isaiah but never hit chapter 53……….

        • That’s a myth… sort of. It’s true that in the yearly reading cycle, Isaiah 53 isn’t included. But there are a LOT of passages in the OT that aren’t included. Their yearly reading cycle is not comprehensive outside of the Torah itself. Also, I’ve got a brother who is a rabbinical student in Israel. While they read through all of the Prophets in their early studies, many rabbis and rabbinical students don’t really have much use for them because they don’t see the practical value. Instead, they prefer to study legal discourse in the Scriptures and extra-biblical rabbinic writings.

          However, most Jews who have studied Jewish literature (including the Scriptures) do have an answer to the standard Christian understanding of Isaiah 53. Basically, they see the “Suffering Servant” as Israel rather than as the Messiah. Having studied Isaiah from that perspective, I still think it’s a very weak argument. But, hey, I’m biased. Like most Christians I can’t NOT see Christ in that passage.

        • Jonathan Hunnicutt says

          Of course many Christians have the opposite problem… They seem to think that Isaiah has only one chapter – 53.

          Isaiah is my favorite book, once I saw how 53 fits into the rest of the book, and especially into 40-55, it is truly awe inspiring. In many ways, that’s when the whole bible clicked for me.

  12. 2 Serviceable bibles, 1 read to death

    I finished the Bible just last week, my first systematic reading! What is unique for me about the Bible is that my immediate next thought was an enthused choice of where to start my next run.

    I think the most amazing thing I learned is just how much gospel content is in the OT, especially the prophets, as God anguishes over the seperation with his people and pleads they come back, admit their sins, and then he will make them faithful. Similarly, Job bemoans at length the desperate need for a mediator between man and God.

    I had a similar experience to the post’s author when I read a book by a 17th century puritan. Every other line or so was at least half quoted Bible, not annotated or marked, it just assumed you knew it was scripture and whereish to find it. I was humbled.

  13. Memorization – why? Sure I support memorizing the foundational stuff – 10 commandments, corporal and spiritual works of mercy, the Beatitudes. But I am an engineer by profession – if I need a formula I know where to look – I certainly do not memorize every formula but I do know how to apply them. I take the same aproach with Scripture – and I read it alot – sometimes from a historical perspective, sometimes from a spiritual perspective, sometimes as a comparison between books, or from a specific point of view. From my perspective memorization of lines of text can produce a cuple of unwanted by -products. First is the tendancy to use the lines out of context, without the surrounding text or intended point of view, and secondly to boost our own self-image or raise us to a level higher than our neighbor.

    • One of the points I was trying to make is that the Bible is how God has revealed himself to us, and to know and understand Him better, His character, His heart, His viewpoint, we need to be intimately familiar with His Word. It is so much more than a ‘reference book’ for God.

      Furthermore, we are assailed at every turn with false doctrine and lying prophets that purport to speak for the Lord. How shall we discern the real “currency’ from the counterfeit without having hidden His word in our hearts?

    • I know what you mean, but at least if your mind is filled with memorized Scripture, that space is taken up with something wonderful—not endless advertising jingles or slogans, TV and movie quotes, useless trivia, etc. We seem to have no trouble filling our minds with plenty of things and we’d all be genuinely bettter I think if some of that space were filled with Scripture. Just a thought.

    • Why memorization? Because it forces you to deal with ALL of the scripture. I memorize whole chapters at a time – this forces me to contemplate every single verse in the chapter. I don’t get the freedom to skip over verses that I don’t like or that don’t “agree” with my theology.

    • Given the number of young people in my sampling, I would not paint this with too broad of a brush, but it is my observation that young people don’t necessarily memorize as much scripture as people my age and older (I’m in my mid-forties). My college-aged son has Bible studies at our house and the guys (it’s a young men’s study) actually had somewhat of a debate on this issue when one of the older adult leaders suggested to them that they memorize lengthy passages of scripture. They just asked, looking for a real answer, “Why?”

      Now I realize this is very unacceptable to some older folks, but in looking at it from a young person’s perspective, I do understand where they are coming from. They have technology at their fingertips almost every waking minute, and that’s pretty much how most of them have grown up. They are never a step away from their technological gadgetry where they can find a particular verse or passage in a nanosecond. The first book my son downloaded to his e-reader was the NIV Bible.

      As a child, I memorized vast amounts of scripture, and have actually retained much of it, although I’m a little slower on the references than I used to be, although nearly always in the ballpark. My childhood church offered a free week of summer camp to any child willing to memorize a pretty hefty amount of scripture every week. I took advantage of this deal for years, because I loved summer camp more than a fat kid loves cake, and I’m glad I did. But I honestly wouldn’t say it has made me a “better” Christian than those that don’t know vast amounts of scripture off the top of their heads. Like the first poster, I’m more interested in how much Bible people live as oppose to how much they know. And my own son often puts me to shame in that arena.

    • Why memorize? Because when you really, really need it, you probably won’t be somewhere that you have ready access to the printed material. In the middle of the traffic accident, in a storm at sea, when you are hiking in the wilderness and discover you are lost, when the small child asks the impossible question, or the dying relative – memorization counts.

  14. There’s no substitute for just reading scripture, letting it flow through your veins; and allowing it to penetrate deep into depth of your souls. I understand the sentiment for living the Word, but it’s a false dichotomy to say that we don’t want to emphasize reading the Word . . . can’t have one w/o the other. I think “most” Christians are just lazy on this front, plain and simple. Most Christians are just satisfied with being a “Christian;” of course that’s not enough, now we’re supposed to walk in it (but this presupposes folks “know” what they’re supposed to be walking in).

    I don’t think a pastor can challenge his flock enough to read the Word; Bible knowledge is important (not as an end in itself, but as The Witness to Christ’s life, it points beyond itself as spectacles), I don’t think we should downplay that, it’s what somebody does with that (does it prompt them to love Christ and others, or promote self) which is all important! Studying Christians are a lost art, it scares me to think that we’ll get to heaven and have regrets; and I think “laziness” might end up being one of the greatest regrets the second we see the sweet face of Jesus Christ!

    • ‘it scares me to think that we’ll get to heaven and have regrets; and I think “laziness” might end up being one of the greatest regrets the second we see the sweet face of Jesus Christ!’

      Amen to that.

  15. Proper exegesis must lead to proper spirituality (loving God and neighbor). As an unabashed Calvinist I am sometimes dismayed that many of my fellow Calvinists out there forget that fact often.

  16. Pat, thanks for bringing up what seems to be an ignored subject. I’ve been memorizing scripture since last year (a 2009 resolution) and noticed that when mentioned to other Christians (not as a brag but in context), the reaction seems to be, “why bother?” Why, indeed.

    Is this a generational thing? I’ve noticed that my 70-80 year-olds in church bring their Bibles, quote scripture often, and know Biblical context. Everyone else below that age range (even ages 40-50, so it’s not just the youngest ones) seems to be very unfamiliar with the Bible (though they’ve attended this church for most of their lives), and they don’t even bring a Bible with them to Bible Study! Yes, they have Bibles, I’ve seen them at times, but you’d think you’d want to bring the main text of what you’re studying? I am currently in a Western European nation, but even my recollection of the church I was raised in Stateside seems to reflect the above.

  17. Good reminder. I’ve been thinking about Bible-reading practices a lot recently, especially after visiting a King James Version-only church and posting about the experience:
    http://strangereverysunday.blogspot.com/2009/12/we-use-and-defend-king-james-bible.html

    It was interesting, and brought up lots of memories.

  18. As one of the non-Christian regular readers here, I own perhaps three or four copies. One was bought for a class in college, the others were acquired elsewhere, I’m not sure. I know there is at least one Gideon’s Bible in there, taken from a motel room ages ago so I could keep reading it after we left (I was 10 or so at the time).

    I have yet to make it through Acts in the NT. I’ve read every other book, although my memory of them is not as great as I’d like. In the OT, I’ve read bits and pieces, over a quarter, but under half.

    My goad was to have read enough of the Bible to hold a semi-informed conversation about it, if people bring up thngs that I don’t know, I go and read the book in question.

    On a side note, I haven’t been commenting here lately because, well, I’m not in a position to offer prayers of good health. But I do have the weak nontheistic version going: my hopes and thoughts. For what they’re worth, iMonk, you have them. The amount of understanding I’ve gained about Christianity and evangelicals from this blog is immense and I thank you for it.

  19. +1 On memorization – As another trained engineer, I appreciate the value of knowing where to look for information. OTOH the things that are used often will become memorized from repetition.

    +1 on Living the Word v/ Knowing the Word

    One of the best ways that I have found to ensure that I actually live the Word of G-d is to memorize books like Psalms and Proverbs which have a wealth of material related directly to living and decision making.
    To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
    (Pro 1:4)

    BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
    (Psa 119:9-11)

    If I were making a recommendation regarding memorization the Navigators Topical Memory System makes an excellent starter set.

    My current practice is to select a book to memorize I then hand copy the verses onto 3×5 cards which I carry with me – the deck is divided 3 sections New Verse the five newest cards in the stack which are read in a decreasing count – eg
    Mt 5:5 25 repetitions on the first day
    Mt 5:4 20 repetitions on the second day
    Mt 5:3 15 repetitions on the third day
    Mt 5:2 10 repetitions on the fourth day
    Mt 5:1 5 repetitions on the fifth day

    At this point cards are moved to the once a day section where they are repeated daily for 30 more days.

    The cards then move to a weekly reading group for 25 repetitions – to keep things manageable I group those by days

    As cards come out of the deck I store them in a 3X5 card box for review on a regular basis.

  20. Oh, about 3 feet of a bookshelf taken up by Bibles, mostly different English translations, plus some Finnish ones, plus the originals, two German ones (must learn German one day!). In reality, I hardly ever use others than three different ESVs (hardback, pocket and Lutheran Study Bible) and Greek NT.

    • As a Swede in a Lutheran Church with strong German roots, I’ll tell you don’t feed their ego brother. Learn Swedish instead, I find it much more helpful. Finnish though that is a language daunting to attempt, and my family comes from Aland.

      • German is for singing Luther and Gerhardt hymns in the original.

      • Bror, being a Finn, I learned Swedish at school. Then spent 20 years in exile forgetting it. Determined to get it back. Soon. At least it isn’t very hard. As we say in Finland: “Why is Swedish so easy?” “So that Swedes would have half a chance of learning it.”

        • Figured your response would be such. But Bo Giertz wrote in Swedish, which makes it worth reading, I also like Bengt Hagglund and Fredrik Sidenvall. The fact that Uuraas Saarnivaara wrote in Finnish would almost be enough excuse for me to learn that language, but I really want to get proficient with Latin before anything else, Spanish might be helpful these days too. So probably won’t be doing the Finnish thing. My aunt who moved to Aland with my uncle, gave up completely on Finnish.

          • No, I meant to say that I want to re-learn Swedish. If only to read Giertz and some others. And to be able to converse with my Swedish friends not-in-English.

            Living in Ã…land won’t help anyone learn Finnish! It’s the only part of Finland that isn’t bi-lingual, because it’s Swedish-speaking only. Mind you, Finnish is hardly worth the effort just to read Saarnivaara.

          • I realized what you were saying, but also appreciated the humor, even if it was at my expense, that’s all I was trying to say there. I expected there would have to be a slight when a Finn is told to learn Swedish.

    • You raise an interesting point. For those of us who haven’t been agonizingly subjected to the Biblical languages, there remain many who have acquired modern languages along the way. And it is refreshing to read familiar passages in other languages. I can suggest Bible reading in a foreign language not only as a good way to learn the language, but as a help to better understanding the Word of God. I can’t think of a better way to stay fluent in another language. It is refreshing to read Luther’s own words for a particular text. Its another reason to stop, step back, and really ponder a passage usually glossed right over. One must always remember, regardless of our theology, we remain captives to the quirks of English language. Although I am curious about the Finnish Bible, since my Finnish friends always mistake “he” and “she”, so I gather there is no gender differentiation in that particular language.

  21. Lessee… I’m not at home, but I can visualize over two dozen different bibles on my shelves. Some are just NT. Some are just OT. Some are just Torah. Some are just Psalms or another single book. Some have the original languages. A couple are Catholic. Several are either Jewish or Messianic Jewish. Most are standard 66-book Protestant translations including NIV, NASB, KJV, NKJV, MKJV, ESV. Don’t have a TLB, though I’d buy one without hesitation.

    I’ve probably read through the whole thing a total of six or so times. There are some books/sections I’ve read much more than that, especially the Torah and the Gospels. As a teenager, I used to read through Proverbs monthly.

    All that to say, I have very little memorized beyond what is included in some of the liturgies. While I consider myself very familiar with the text both as a individual books and how those books form a more-or-less cohesive unit, I just never bothered to do much memorization. Honsetly, some of that has made me pretty lazy. Due to being a pretty good public speaker and being familiar with the texts, I can phone in a sermon with about 30-minutes prep time that is better than a lot of full-time pastors I know. That’s not necessarily a good thing because it lets me be lazy. It lets me rely more on myself than listen to God.

    Maybe it’s time to step it up a notch. That actually seems to be a bit of a theme in my life now that I’m 30! It’s time to grow up in so many areas of life!

  22. Nice article. You could also mention the significant degree to which the Bible is embedded in Western culture, literature, and everyday language, e.g. “blind leading the blind” allusions etc.
    Since you asked…
    26 Bibles, 10 NTs (Greek, Beck, etc), 8 harmonies, 4 lectionaries, 2 audio Bibles, 1 psalter, 1 miscellaneous (a box of Pocket Canons!)

  23. Michael Harris says

    The only thing I have WELL memorized is Psalm 23. It’s been amazing though. Wherever I am, be it in the bog or in bed, I can meditate on scripture, chewing on it slowly and praying the language of God back to Him. This is much different than just reading it off of the page. When I have it memorized it becomes part of me, literally. Our brains change when we learn it by heart. It becomes part of the very fabric of our beings, literally. There is a newish website for the memorization of scripture which I’ve just started using. It’s memverse.com . Check it out.
    Also here’s a brief quote from N.T. Wright:
    “What I’d really want to do is say to the next generation, I want you to know your Bibles inside out and upside down in the original languages as thoroughly as you can.” Not bad advice, eh?

    • Jonathan Hunnicutt says

      Yeah, I was at a talk NT Wright gave a year ago, and at one point, he pleaded with young people in their twenties to memorize as much scripture as possible. He said it simply doesn’t stick as well when you get older. And that was just an aside.

      It convicted me. I let my Greek lapse in seminary and I’m reteaching myself.

  24. Christiane says

    St. Augustine wrote this:

    ‘You recall that one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture, that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, since he who was in the beginning God with God has no need of separate syllables; for he is not subject to time.’

  25. I have several. One in Hebrew, one in Greek from my University days. A Torah and Haftorah set that gets a lot of usage these days. A Jerusalem Study Bible that I continue to use as a cultural reference checker.

    One difference between Islamic and Christian usage of Scripture is that the Muslim believes that the Koran was breathed out by their Divine, with Muhammed as a scribe, just writing it down. That’s why it is vastly preferable to read Koran in its original Arabic, because, to the believer, it is the direct word of their Deity.

    I don’t believe that’s the conventional Christian understanding of Scripture (at least it’s not the Catholic or Anglican position on Scripture).

  26. Oh, one more thing. Are any of you familiar with Blogging the Bible? It was an attempt by David Plotz to read the Scriptures (well the Jewish Scriptures) from beginning to end without commentary and blog his experience.

    For any of you who believe that reading the Scriptures alone will make you a better Christian or Jew, it didn’t work on David. He is described to have started reading it as a happy agnostic (yet Jewish by heritage) and finished reading it as an agnostic who was disappointed in the Almighty.

    • I did read it and found it very amusing. Some of Plotz’s observations were great. I actually used it in a class on the Pentateuch I taught as a very alternative yet honest view.

  27. I try to read through the Bible every year, once through, then there is the dabbling in there as a hazard of my occupation. But I do try to read from the same Bible every year, the same physical one that is. looking at the margin notes and so on as I go by, asking myself what was i thinking when I wrote that there? It is a good practice to get into. This year though in an attempt to improve my spanish, I am reading it in Spanish. For Tapani’s sake though, my German Bible will continue to collect dust…. no offense Wolf Paul.

  28. Can I just say how right you are?! When I was sending out resumes for ministerial positions I decided to give up after a while. Why? Everyone wanted someone with umpteen years of experience, which no one is going to have if no one has a first church. That, and you needed to have a degree from seminary. Some of the greatest preaches in Christian history were fine without seminaries…they had the word of God tattooed upon their hearts in a real and powerful way. Schooling is important, but I would love to see “How many books of the Bible do you know by heart?” as one of the questions on an application.

  29. Many years at the church in which I grew up we used to sometimes have a visiting speaker, who was blind, come and preach in our evening service. He would say “tell turn………..” and then recite the whole passage off by heart if my memory serves me right.

  30. We should probably collect up some of the Bibles that we don’t use and give them to a local mission.

    And does anyone have any ideas as to the best way to dispose of a Bible that is falling apart, such as a paperback Bible that a teenager might have owned that’s all written over and covered with stickers and has the cover falling off? I can’t just toss such items in the trash.

    Suggestions?

    • Ceremonial burning. Or you can put it in a clay jar and hide it in a bat cave.

    • When I was in college, I had an NIV which I had read until it was falling apart. I gently placed it in the community trash at the end of my dorm corridor. This was at the end of a semester. At the beginning of the next semester, I found the same Bible on the shelf in the dorm library. I took it as a sign that I should keep it! (this was at a very liberal secular university, by the way)

    • I do not know where, but my university library had worn paperbacks re-bound as hardcover books all the time. This necessitates trimming some of the paper margin, so you might lose side notes.

      Some copy shops / printing places / xerox places (what do you call them in the U.S.?) do similar things with copies of books in my area, so could probably offer the same service for a worn paperback.

    • www dot lovepackages dot org

      You can email and ask them if they can use a Bible in that state.

  31. I know that I will only be re-stating what some others have said. In the first half of my Christian life, I lived within a paradigm where were taught and believed in a magic formula that went something like this; time in the word = spiritual maturity, spiritual maturity eventually = godliness, godliness = infrequent sin.

    On top of that, the way of being in the word was divided up as, memorization = 5 points, study = 4 points, reading = 3 points, hearing = 2 points . . . yada yada yada.

    Then, when I had reached the pinnacle of this paradigm, when I was surrounded by godly people, who had much of the Bible memorized . . . I started to find beneath the surface of them (and myself) some of the most ugly sin I had every seen. Then, I found, within my own heart, anger, hatred and murder. I was no different than the person I was 15 years earlier who was a brand new Christian . . . only that I had, like every one else, learned to talk and act in a way to cover the sin.

    Now, I do believe that we should know what the Bible says. We should be very careful not to spiritualize the meaning (God showed me such and such from this obscure verse) and that there is no magic formula for spirituality.

    Btw, I studied Arabic (Fusha) that is classical and original to the Koran, in Cairo. The Muslims who were coming there to learn the language of the Koran (in the same program I was in), were mostly doing so for the same reason that my Christian group was memorizing scripture . . . an act of penitence . . .to win God’s favor. Now I know that if I don’t have God’s favor in Christ . . . I never will. With that said, I will say once more that scriptures are not be ignored either.

  32. Clinton Yoder says

    I was brought up very short by a Bible teacher years ago when he mentioned that reading the Bible through one time per year is no great feat. One can read the Bible through aloud in 60 hours. Divide that up into minutes per day for a year and you get 10 minutes. I don’t know about you but I read the newspaper much longer than that. An hour TV program can slip by easily. So can a three hour football game. But ten minutes with Word that live AND abides forever?? I will not tell people how many times I make it my goal to read the entire Bible in a year. I do not know how many times I have read it. But the reading and re-reading for me has made Who God is more real to me. Often I hear someone try to say something about God and I think, if they really knew Him they would know how off base they are. Try to match your newspaper reading time to your Bible or TV program to your Bible reading. There are things there (even in the genealogies) that are amazing. “Blessed is he that readeth…” Clint (Chip’s Dad)

  33. The very early development of the lectionary is proof of how seriously the Church took Scripture. Though not every verse of every book is read, all the main passage are read over the period of the lectionary. Over one’s life, one would hear the readings multiple times and they would slowly seep into your consciousness, even if one could not read–as was so often true of many Christians over history.

    On top of that one would have seen either the catacomb carvings, or the holy images, or the icons, which taught those Christians about the Christian life. More than that, the Liturgy had extensive quotes and allusions from Scripture. Whatever one may think of the appropriateness of Liturgy, it does have the positive aspect of having quotes and allusions from Scripture that are so strong that they teach one a Biblical viewpoint.

    The Radical Reformation and some parts of the Protestant Reformation threw away so many parts of the Liturgy that they lost a significant portion of the teaching that is found within the Liturgy. I am not arguing for the perfection of the Liturgy. But, I am arguing that the Liturgy was set up by God in order to ensure that believers–even those who could not read–could gain a Biblical mindset. Further, as others have pointed out, a Biblical mindset is more important than Biblical memorization.

    • Steve Newell says

      I completely agree with your thoughts. As one who was raised Southern Baptist, I had no understanding of the Historic Christian Liturgy. Now as a Lutheran, I understand what a great treasure that liturgy, along with the lectionary are. The Pastor can completely mess up the sermon but I know that I will hear the Psalms, Old Testament/New Testament, and the Gospel read. Also, the New Lutheran Service Book has each part of the Liturgy referenced to the bible verses that it relates. to.

      In addition, the Creeds are another blessing of our early church fathers since I can confess the biblical faith along with my other brothers and sisters at my church and around the world.

      What I have found is that then a church no longer follows the historic forms of worship, they tend to have less scripture incorporated into their service and it is many times limited to the pastor reading as part of his sermon.

    • Off on a tangent here, but as a Catholic I really can’t comment on “how many Bibles do you own?” because I’m the traditional cradle Catholic with one big family Bible in the house and that’s it 🙂

      What I wanted to mention, in connection with the liturgy, is a recommendation of Eamonn Duffy’s “Marking the Hours”, which is an overview of the usage by lay people of Books of Hours from the 13th – 16th centuries:

      http://www.amazon.com/Marking-Hours-English-Prayers-1240-1570/dp/0300117140

      He’s scholarly yet accessible, and as a Catholic himself sympathetic to and understanding of the mindset of the people who used these books. He shows how lay devotion involved the development of a personal prayer life based on a simplified version of the monastic liturgical Offices and how these books were not just expensive art-works commissioned by the rich to show off their wealth and taste, but were genuine devotional aids and how, with the invention of printing, these disseminated down to the lower classes.

      An interesting historical examination of pre-Reformation lay devotion and I would recommend it heartily to any interested in what did lay people do before the Reformation made the Word of God accessible to all? 😉

  34. Here is the link to a gaget/widget to download to your sites. It covers OT, NT and a Psalm or a Proverb daily. It even renews its self every day – just like we should!

    http://www.biblica.com/bibles/dailyreading/index.php?drdate=20100106&translation_select=NIV&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+daily_bible_niv+%28Read+the+Bible+in+a+Year+%5BNIV%5D%29

  35. I have a number of BIbles in my house. Growing up Catholic and being age 55, I grew up listening to and reading whatever Bible the Catholic Church was using then. I know the American Catholic Church uses the New American Bible now (which I have a copy of), but I am not sure if that was what they used when I was a kid.

    When I was involved many years ago with a non-denominational charismatic church, I used a Thompson Chain Reference Bible which I think was the King James Bible with lots of helpful “stuff” at the front and back of the Bible.

    I also now have a NIV, New Revised Standard Version, New American Standard Bible, the New Testament of the New Jerusalem Bible, plus The Message. The thing is, I feel like I want to focus on mainly reading one translation and then just checking out the others on occasions, but I can’t decide which one to focus on. I have memorized favorite passages, but I don’t even remember what translation they came from. And I couldn’t tell you what the chapters and verses are of my favorite passages. But I know the passages that keep me going, that inspire me, that motivate me and I use them during my prayer time and at other times. I also know the prayers that Catholics say regularly at Mass as well as some other prayers. I like having these memorized.

    I don’t feel I need to memorize entire books of the Bible, but I definitely think it is good to memorize particularly some of the words of Jesus. And it’s great to be able to say the Our Father and the Creed at Mass with my fellow parishioners. I feel it links us to all the people who have gone before us and all the people around the world that also seeking to do God’s will and follow Jesus.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible_version_debate

      On that page near the bottom, it lists by centuries some of the Bible versions that have been produced. For the 20th century, the list includes:

      American Standard · Rotherham’s Emphasized · Ferrar Fenton · Knox · Revised Standard · New World · New English Bible · New American Standard · Good News · Jerusalem · New American · Living · New International · New Century · Bethel · New King James · New Jerusalem · Recovery · New Revised Standard · Revised English · Contemporary English · The Message · Clear Word · 21st Century King James · Third Millennium · New International Reader’s · New International Inclusive Language · New Living · Complete Jewish Bible · International Standard · Holman Christian Standard · TS98.

      • That’s the great advantage of being Catholic, JoanieD: the Church fixes for us which version we’re to use 🙂

        It does make me smile when some groups of Protestants with about thirty Bibles in various translations are all arguing with each other and then going back to quoting the original Greek in order to make their point – so guys, how does the complaint about the wicked Roman Catholic Church denying the laity the Bible in the vernacular work out, when the laity can be faced with twenty different translations and have to be grammarians familiar with the intricacies of the aorist in order to work out for themselves what the ‘plain meaning’ of the disputed text says?

        • “That’s the great advantage of being Catholic, JoanieD: the Church fixes for us which version we’re to use.”

          Yes, but Martha, the Catholic Church approves the use of the New American Bible, the New Jerusalem Bible and the New Revised Standard Version. (Maybe more, but I only know about those right now.)

          I am reading a book by Mary Healy which is Catholic Commentary on the Gospel of Mark and it is very good. BUT…she points out various places where she thinks the New American Bible is faulty on a word that it uses.

          Ah well, we just do the best we can, eh!

  36. Sherman the Tank says

    Non-Christian here with a great love of the Bible. (I have at least half a dozen. Used to have a lot more.)

    One of the great ironies of the evangelical world that I used to be intimately familiar with was that so many evangelicals, fundamentalists, etc. claim a high view of the Bible—even a literal view—but the vast majority don’t seem to have ever read it. And many of those who do read it, don’t seem to have read more than five verses at a time.

    I don’t understand how someone can call themselves a Christian and not have read, at least, the New Testament four or five times, maybe minus Revelation. I’m not talking about someone who just converted. Someone who’s been in the faith for a couple of years or more. It’s not like the New Testament is that long. My Old Testament prof in seminary used to call it “the pamphlet at the end” just to get a rise out of us.

    I’m equally hard on atheists who claim to know what the Bible is about but who’ve never read it, btw. It just seems that if you have a strong opinion about something as important as the Bible, you ought to have read most of the thing a few times. And if you haven’t read it in tall hat time, you’re probably don’t really believe it’s that important. Hope I’m not being too off topic here.

  37. FollowerOfHim says

    I sometimes wonder whether all the talk of “reading the Bible through in a year” has a sort of “math-is-hard Barbie” effect.

    A child who only hears that, “Algebra is hard!” will grow up thinking…algebra is hard. They might discover otherwise someday, but it’s less likely than if they, say, grow up around a lot of engineers or scientists for whom algebra is just the front door to calculus, which in turn is just a tool to do their own work.

    By making a task of reading the Bible, are we shooting ourselves in the foot? Would we be better served to just normalize reading the Bible in various ways (devotionally, in study, etc.), rather than making a big song-and-dance about “reading it through”? I’m not sure how we do this — it’s a less-choate vision than the New Year’s Resolution – but it’s a thought.

    • Follower, but maths *is* hard! 😉

      Ah, the tears I quite literally shed in school over that subject! Algebra? Calculus? Oh, the agonies I went through… particularly since I did well in all the other subjects, so the teachers couldn’t understand it – if I wasn’t stupid, then it had to be because I must be lazy and not trying hard enough.

      Some of us are not mathematically gifted. That’s the truth of it.

      • FollowerOfHim says

        Martha,

        OK, maybe a bad metaphor. How about, say, having to read the Collected Works of Yeats or something instead? “And pluck till time and times are done…”

        By the way, I spent a year as an undergrad at the University of Limerick in the 90s, studying applied math, er, maths. Sorry your own experience wasn’t as happy as that of many of the Irish I knew at UL. Maybe if you just studied the singular version like we do in the US it would have gone more smoothly. (Proof once again that there are no good math jokes.)

        In any case, if everyone was mathematically gifted, I guess none of us would be!

  38. Several months ago I acquired a version of the Bible with the chapter and verse breaks left out — and I have to say that it really revolutionized the way I read and understand scripture. I’ve come to the conclusion that the presence of those numbered breaks that were inserted during the MIddle Ages really do influence the way the mind processes scripture. Just think about it. If you glance at a any written document, the overall order and form of that document causes the mind to make certain assumptions about what you’re about to read. If you see a numbered listing, your mind prepares to process a sequence of informational bites, and the tendency is to consider each numbered division as something complete in and of itself. On the other hand, if on first glance you see a letter form or the structured pattern of a song or a poem, then your brain prepares to absorb something much more personal or creative in nature.
    Of course I understand the value of the chapter and verse breaks when it comes to collective reference, research, and scholarship — but I also think that formatting scripture in the same mode as legal documents actually does create a tendency toward a more legalistic understanding and ultimately more legalistic doctrine. While I’m not suggesting that people should toss out or stop reading Bibles with chapter and verse breaks, I strongly encourage anyone to pick up a version without them. Give it try, and I think you’ll find the scriptures coming alive in a new way.
    And, though hardline denomationalists will probably throw stones at me for saying this, I would also encourage Bible readers to practice flexability of thought and what I call extra-paradigmal examination of scripture. If you’re like me and you grew up in a particular church tradition, then, more likely than not, you inherited a definite doctrinal paradigm when it comes to interpreting scripture. In other words, most of us have been trained to look for and see certain doctrinal elements in certain passages of scripture — usually to the exclusion of other possibilities of meaning and interpretation. Thinking outside established paradigms is difficult, especially at first, but it gets easier with practice — which basically involves asking yourself probing and often dangerous questions while reading or meditating on scripture. This practice can be especially valuable when encountering scriptures that appear on the surface to contradict what you’ve been taught doctrinally. Stop, go back and read what came before and then read what comes after to get the full context, read it again in as many different translations as you can, do some research to find other parts of scripture that deal with that doctrinal issue, ask yourself the dangerous questions and ask the Holy Spirit for some illumination — and, if necessary, be prepared and willing to either alter what you believe about that doctrinal point or allow yourself to be uncertain until more information or revelation is forthcoming.
    I know many might consider this a formula for the formation of dangerous heresies, but I think it’s a good deal more honest and a lot less dangerous than the practice of ignoring or explaining away any parts of scripture that don’t line up with our established doctrinal paradigms. I also think it’s a much better way to honor and acknowledge the truth and authority of God’s word.

    • FollowerOfHim says

      RonP:

      And if the presence of verse breaks alone makes such a difference — and I don’t doubt that it does — how much more the Scoffield and Dake’s of the world, which interpose heading and sub-headings between verses. It’s truly impossible to try to read the text in any other way than the commentators intend for you to. A masterstroke of marketing.

  39. I often wonder how many christians I know would keep their faith if the actally read the whole bible. Sometimes the God described therein is VERY unpalatable….That book throws up a whole lot of issues… and is in places almost impossible to understand.

  40. textjunkie says

    I have in the house probably half a dozen different versions of the Bible, but to be fair I tend to look up multiple translations online when I’m looking for scripture sections.

    However, in keeping with phil_style’s comment, I did start to do a Through the Bible in a Year reading last year, and just about lost my faith, wading through the Old Testament stories. It was painful. I knew them all as a kid of course, and can draw a pretty good timeline of Israel’s history from memory; but reading them all through as an adult they came across as a routine tribal history, full of internecine warfare and savagery, and a lot of spin-doctoring in how they tell the story to make Israel seem special.

    I haven’t actually lost my faith, don’t worry–mine hasn’t been based on the inerrancy of the Bible for a while now–but it does make me much happier reading IM and other preachers and commentators, and staying away from the original OT texts in large doses while I sort out exactly what my relationship with the OT histories is. (The prophets are a bit better, but even there, yowza Daniel and Ezekiel… 😉

    But yeah, reading the NT is not a challenge (except to how you live your life… ) and everyone should have done that. (Even non-Christians, IMHO, the same way everyone should take a stab at the Bhagavad Gita and the Dhammapada and the Koran if you can get it in English.)

    • “I knew them all as a kid of course, and can draw a pretty good timeline of Israel’s history from memory”

      Part of the shock for me is trying to deal with the history the Bible appear to recount, and the history that really happened…. Then trying to work out how much theology is dependant on the biblical writers’ versions of events. It’s sometimes ugly work.

      I’ve gotta say though, snippets like Philippians 4:8 are undeniably wonderful.

  41. Great post. I mainly use NIV, but I have about 7 or 8 different translations, along with a couple of Study Bibles on top of that. I was actually inspired by Ed Dobson’s new book to try to reread the Gospels over and over and over again. I committed to doing this over at least a 6-month period, and my current pace is all four of them in about 1.5-2 weeks. I’m just about finished with my third time through, and it’s been pretty awesome so far…I pick up on themes easier this was, both in the each of the gospels and in Jesus’ ministry overall.

    As for memorizing, I’ve done a bit of it before and it’s wonderful to be able to pull the text up as it were when you don’t have a Bible handy. I actually set out a couple of years ago to memorize Philippians over several months, and had it down in just under a week. It’s easier then you’d think, and well worth the time.

  42. I collect different translations and was thrilled to find,in a used book store, a 1961 edition of the
    Amplified OT Job-Malichai in small hardback for 4 bucks.

  43. Louis Winthrop says

    I use the New Jerusalem version for most purposes, but sometimes use other translations online if I have doubts. I threw out my KJV after it kept falling apart–I bought it in order to prepare myself to recognize its language in other English writers. And I have an Esperanto translation (OT by Zamenhof, NT by committee) which I never use.

    Somewhere I have a translation of the four gospels which abandons versification, double columns, and all the other accretions, for a style which purports to get at the register of the original. I can’t remember the translator, but I remember liking it very much. It’s photocopied and lying in an envelope somewhere.

    If I got a coupon for a free Bible, I think I’d go with the Jewish Publication Society’s translation of the TANAKH.

  44. 3 (one’s my Hubby’s youth Bible, the other is mine from my first communion, the third is from a college course on the Bible).

    I find I actually have more of the Bible memorized and have read the Bible more often (except Numbers- and any of the begats) than the average Christian. So, I’m not too sure if “reading the Bible” will necessarily help you retain more people into the faith. Reading the Bible was one of the steps on my de-conversion because there is a lot of really evil and immoral stuff in there. Mostly in the Old Testaments (seriously, genocide?), but a lot of it in the New Testament too (thank you Paul, but I’m not less intelligent then the men).

  45. Thank you for everything. Very useful