Friday, June 26, 2009

Bible Reading

I finished reading my Bible yesterday. The whole thing, cover to cover. I don't know how many times I've done it, probably because I haven't done it in years. Perhaps a decade. I was using a reading chart designed to take you through in a year, reading a few chapters a day. I did it in fits and starts and took about eighteen months. A knowledge of God and the scriptures is a basic part of any Christian's spiritual foundation and there isn't any better way of gaining it than reading the Bible. I just wish I could be more systematic. I have developed the habit of getting up early and praying most days. I need to develop a similar one for reading my Bible. I don't think its necessary to read from cover to cover, the Bible wasn't written with that in mind, nor do I think its necessary to read it all in a year (or eighteen months, in this case). The Bible isn't supposed to be approached like any other reading project. You need to take the time to aborb it. Still, I using a yearly chart keeps you to a schedule and reading all the through ensures you read everything and aren't concentrating on the parts that interest you most.

The Bible I used was the King James, the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible With Apocrycha (the Penguin paperback edition). I especially liked its formatting, which prints the text as a single column per page. The papers covers, however, did't weather much use and I had to buy a covering for it. This was the first time, in my twenty eight years as a Christian, I read the Apocrypha. I have other Bibles that include it, but this is the first time I've read it. The Apocrypha is a collection of books, or additions to books, that were a part of the Greek translations of the Old Testament that the early Church used, but not a part of the Hebrew Bibles the Jews were using. Whether the Greeks Jews added them, or the other Jews dropped them, or never used them at all, is something we may never know. When Jerome originally translated the Vulgate he wanted to remove them, but the Church said no. When the Reformation happened the Reform churches did remove them, first setting them a part between the Old and New Testaments, and then dropping them all together. The rationale for initially keeping them, even though they weren't considered scripture, was twofold: tradition, they had been a part of the canon for a very long time, and they added to readers' understanding of the world of the New Testament. I've found them interesting enough to include in my next read through, which I am going to start July 1. This time with an English Standard Version (that also includes them). I am going to supplement my readings with William Barclay's New Daily Study Bible commentaries and have already picked up the first two volumes, which cover Matthew.

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