Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Reading the Bible, Cover to Cover

In a recent morning prayer group discussion, the difficulty of cover-to-cover reading of the Bible was mentioned. The problem is that after the stimulating stories of Genesis and Exodus, it is easy to get bogged down in the legal details of Leviticus and lose interest. Even if an ambitious reader survives Leviticus, Deuteronomy looms ahead.

It reminded me of an exhibit I created a decade or so ago outlining where in the Old Testament to find stories of various events and including a suggested order of reading if one just wants to get the narrative without the digressions into legal issues or side stories. Please excuse my exclusion of the Deuterocanonical Books since this chart was created during my Lutheran years.

The chart features a little segment across the bottom just above the timeline suggesting an order of reading of books for one who just wants to get the story from creation through the patriarchs and favorite son Joseph, enslavement in Egypt, deliverance from slavery by Moses, wilderness wandering, entrance into Canaan led by Joshua, the period of judges including Deborah, Samson, and Samuel, the first three kings, Saul, David, and Solomon, division of the kingdom, civil war, defeat, exile, return, and rebuilding by Ezra and Nehemiah. The books that are not key to that narrative are above this segment on the chart. It’s a great story. Here is a clip of that suggested order of books. 

For Christians, it is important to remember to look for Jesus even in the Old Testament. To quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “All Sacred Scripture is but one book, and that one book is Christ, because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ.”  And there is the famous quote attributed to St. Augustine: “The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed; the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed.” (My apologies to our Jewish friends who have an entirely different view of the Hebrew Scriptures which we have co-opted and renamed.)

Anyway, here is the chart. If it helps, use it. If not, ignore it. And, yes, I am sure it can stand some improvements and fine tuning. I think Leviticus is probably misplaced.