A Reading Challenge of Biblical Proportions

I am going to read the Bible.  Yes, that’s right.  I’m sure some people I know will be surprised.  I’ll tell you the reason.

The Bible is one of the most popular best-selling books in history.  I often read popular books.  I’m reading one now.  So, for literary purposes, I’m going to read this rather lengthy piece of literature from a literary and entertainment point of view.  But I’m not going to review it.  However, since I’m calling this a challenge, I will write blog posts for each book I finish, and there are 66 of them.

I won’t be looking at this from a religious point of view.  I’m not going to evaluate Christianity.  I’m not trying to offend anyone or ruffle any feathers.  I’m just interested in seeing if any part of it is interesting.

But there’s another reason.  It’s actually for cultural reasons.  Writing a novel that will feature new religions requires some knowledge of existing religions.  And one of these religions will be started by a Christian in the book.  Consider this research.

The version I’ll be reading is the English Standard Version, the only one I could get for free on Amazon.  And to be honest, the last time I read any of the Bible, I found it quite boring.  We’ll see how age affects that, especially considering I’m more interested in culture and history now.

I’m not sure when I’ll start reading.  I have so many other books to read.  This will be a once-in-a-while kind of thing.  I don’t expect to be converted.

So, just to remind you, I’m reading this from a cultural, literary, and entertainment point of view.  Let’s see how it goes.

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13 thoughts on “A Reading Challenge of Biblical Proportions”

  1. Oh! It’s actually an amazing read, but… only if you do it right! One of the things I would suggest is to read a couple commentary books alongside it, and definitely chop it up some. The reason I say commentaries (or, “Intro” texts even) is because they give some important context. If you want I can suggest two good intro texts, one for the Hebrew Bible (or, Old Testament), and one for New Testament (this weekend, when I’m at the place where my copies reside and can actually get the titles and author names). If you don’t the thing to remember is this: The books were put together in different times, and (especially in the Hebrew Bible) are often woven together story’s from a number of different sources, drawing from ancient spoken traditions. Also, Leviticus is a bunch of laws, and a lot of Genesis is Genealogy that can have meaning if you’re a scholar digging into it but is generally kind of odd..
    Anyhow, yes, I would encourage also gathering some cultural context to help make the reading easier 🙂 And you get some cool tidbits of understanding (Oh! So.. this was what was happening when this book was put together, and these stories were chosen… that’s why this brother, with this name, is treated this way… discrediting story, cool!)
    Looking forward to hearing more, and now I’m kind of wanting to do some re-reading myself…
    (once a biblical scholar always a biblical scholar? Darn you seminary, getting me all interested in this!)

    1. Thanks for the suggestions. The version I have on my phone has commentaries, so that’s taken care of. And I will be reading it broken up. Definitely not all at once. It would probably drive me crazy.

      1. As long as their good commentaries! It’s can be a challenge to dig apart the more scholarly and the more religious sometimes. Looking forward to hearing you’re thoughts, I definitely have my favorite storytelling pieces of the Bible, of course summer of those are because of the entertaining retellings my instructor gave. 🙂

  2. Good idea, Jay. I have read quite a few different versions (six, complete, one still in progress) over the years, but if you decide to continue your examination, I found the most interesting by far was a bi-lingual English Spanish.(cost very modest). Gave a new perspective and I found it very enlightening, since what you are reading in the English standard is a translation from the original language(s)… The translation into Spanish, which includes Spanish cultural views to some extent, is a bit of an eye opener!
    Another one I read was a chronological one, as the “bible” skips through time and some (like Psalms) don’t line up with much logic until you get them put in that perspective.
    I obviously found my reading to be of value, and it is an amazing piece of literature and history, aside from the more “spiritual” and religious context.

    1. Thanks for your input. One thing I’m interested in seeing is the cultural aspect of things. Also, values and morals were completely different back when it was written. That’ll be interesting, too.

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