Fear Of Whales

Tales of a reluctant minister

Reading the Bible for Fun and Prophet

with one comment

How should one read the Bible? Should one study a little piece at a time? Should the whole thing be read cover to cover? If so, Where does one begin? Actually it’s a trick question. The Bible is not one thing, and for optimal enjoyment, you should not read it all the same way.

You need to consider the particular books of the Bible as individual documents with particular identities and not approach them each the same way. Some books There are best read and enjoyed in one sitting and become confusing when parsed apart into verses (Esther, Job, Revelation) are other books in the canon (like Proverbs) that become dreary and incomprehensible when read all in a lump. Most of the books are somewhere in between. Like Psalms, where one psalm has little to do with the next, but certainly needs to be read in it’s entirety as a psalm. The canon order puts all the historical together, and all the prophets together, and that makes reading them a slog. That means it’s generally not advisable to go in order for the same reason you wouldn’t eat all the beef in your monthly diet on the same day, and then all the vegetables on the next. You wanna mix it up.

Then there are the genre’s of the text. Is this text primarily for instruction, is it for inspiration, for encouragement, for reproof? Is it just an interesting character study or a funny story? Is it a dispassionate statement of historical fact or a stirring morality tale wrapped in allegory? The answer to those questions depends entirely to which part of the Bible you are talking about.

So where to start? That depends. And it matters. Where you start will lay your foundation and set your bias for your reading of the rest of scripture. If you start in Romans, you will be inclined to read the rest of the Bible through the lens of salvation by grace alone like me and the protestant reformers, and you won’t be able to get it completely out of your head when you open Isaiah. If you start with The Torah like many in the Messianic community suggest, you will understand Jesus as a Rabbi much better than you will understand Jesus as Lord the first time you study the Gospels. Wherever you start, it will become important to come back again and reread the text with new eyes, being open to the new things the spirit says to who you are as a reader that time.

If you are new to ancient Jewish texts, I recommend Mark. But I do so pretty arbitrarily (it’s nice and short, narrative). You can read it for as long or as short as you want, but remember that this is supposed to be fun and interesting. Stop when it’s not, and move on. Easy peasy


Written by RyanGaffney

April 20, 2016 at 3:35 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. I love Mark.

    I wrote my own layman’s commentary on it a few years ago (unpublished). Exploration really. Packs more punch than is readily found, I think, in social-pop theology. Actually more than I find in scholarly theology too.

    Anyway, I appreciate your post. And those I have read.

    Glad I found your blog.

    I am blessed.


    Agent X

    April 20, 2016 at 6:03 am

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