For most of the past ten years or so, I have done an annual Bible reading plan of some variety or another. I’ve done the 90-day plan three times, I think, and done other, slower plans in the other years. The great strength of reading the Bible quickly is that it gives you a great birds-eye view and keeps the whole Scripture recent in your mind. The great weakness is that some things just take time to read properly, and you simply don’t have that time when you are sitting down to read twenty chapters in a single sitting. And sometimes my brain just isn’t clued in, so it isn’t even the volume, but on such an “off” day, that is quite a few chapters to read inattentively and move on.
Every time I read through, I realize that I have some glaring weak spots in my knowledge of Scripture, despite having read them all multiple times, and I try to spend the rest of the year studying a little more in-depth—I’ve read the Gospels, the Pentateuch, Job, Psalms, and Proverbs with more attention in this way.
This past year (2017) I did one of the slower plans, which I thought was going to be a great way to slow down and digest more, but I got very off-track by severe sickness and ended up reading a bit maniacally to try to catch back up by the end of the year, and I found more weak spots: the minor prophets and the Pauline epistles, primarily. I studied the Pauline epistles many times as a teenager, and of course many of our famous “memory verses” and prooftexts are from them, but haven’t studied Paul’s work very deeply as an adult, and it really stuck out to me as I read through them a few weeks ago that my grasp of the whole is quite shaky even if I am familiar with the parts. My comprehension of the minor prophets is much worse: I know Jonah and Hosea pretty well, but the rest… well, you could take the title off and I’d have a hard time matching up which book belongs to which title. I’ve read them, but I haven’t studied them—maybe not ever. I can’t remember hearing a sermon on them, either. The Bible isn’t terribly long, and it’s God’s own word, and I am pretty horrified that there is any part I am so unfamiliar with as the minor prophets.
So, I am stepping away from my practice of annual reading, and allotting the entire year of 2018 to nothing but a study of the minor prophets and the Pauline epistles. I want to spend 2-3 weeks on each of them—two weeks on each of the shorter prophets and epistles, and three on Hosea and Zechariah, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians. Maybe four on Romans. I think that adds up to 54 weeks, which will suit since I am finishing my 2017 plan a little early (next week).
As part of my master plan to read-understand-and-remember, I am planning to blog a little bit here… hence the long explanation. 🙂 I’m very excited about the prospect of not merely reading Scripture, but getting to re-read it, ruminate on it, and look up and research things that are confusing until I can get to the bottom of them.
I also want to note, lest I forget, that I am pretty weak in three major prophets, too—Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel—and hope to come back to those in 2019, Lord permitting and Spirit leading. 🙂