I write all kinds of reflections on a notepad while I am reading my Bible. I then mull on them for some time. If they pass muster, they then get put in both my study Bibles.
The New Testament in its World by N.T. Wright and Michael Bird
I typically read 4-6 books at the same time. Being a person of many interests, it fits my personality, and dare I say, my calling.
When one of the books I am reading is long (500 pages plus) and/or technical, I tend to read no more than 5-20 pages at a sitting. It gives me ample time to ponder and scribble my many marginal notes.
One large book (almost 900 pages) I am now finishing is The New Testament in its World by N.T. Wright and Michael Bird. I saw it highly recommended by many I respect so I decided to read it. I am glad that I did. It would fit in the long, but not technical category.
Instead of a traditional book review, let me mention (in no particular order) five things I appreciated about this book:
*Even though this a dual authored book, it is clear and smooth in its presentation.
*It is amply supplied with graphs, timelines, maps, and other visuals that wonderfully augment the text.
*The authors do a terrific job of modeling how history is crucial for the best understanding of the New Testament. My own book, Stuck in the Present, highlights this need.
*Various positions on the different books of the New Testament are offered. The authors are fair and balanced in telling the reader why they hold, or at least lean in one direction.
*There is a good use of both ancient and modern scholarship. This regularly reminds the reader that the Christian faith has a rich history.
Here is a piece I wrote for Christianity Today at the beginning of 2020.
If you read my piece you will see that I intended to do three quick readings of the Bible. That changed pretty early on. I finished the Old Testament, but then got gloriously stuck in some slow reads of a few books in the Bible.
I have always been comfortable allowing for flexibility as long as my overall goal of regular engagement with the Bible takes place.
For the past couple of months I have been mulling over and do multiple reads of both Lamentations and Jonah. Since I am putting together mini commentaries for both, I may be gloriously stuck there for some time!
Your “Bible-reading plan for this year” may get modified as mine did last year, but whatever you end up doing, make it a priority to have regular intake of God’s Word. It is always good to plead for God to “open our eyes to behold wonderful things from His Word.”
Thanks to all of you who were a part of this unscientific, but still revealing poll.
Here is the previous post with all your votes. Below it is the wrap up and a few reflections.
Number of people who participated: 46
Top four books listed:
First place: Psalms received 34 votes
Second place: Genesis received 33 votes
Third place: John received 31 votes
Fourth place: Romans received 27 votes
(Over twenty of you listed all three of the top three books: Genesis, Psalms, and John)
Number of books in the Bible included on someone’s list: 56/66
32/39 in OT (missing I Chron., Ezra, Joel, Obadiah, Nahum, Haggai, and Malachi)
24/27 in NT (missing II Thess., II and III John)
Most surprising book(s) picked: Tie with Numbers and Zephaniah (But it took two professors to include these books!)
Books picked only one time:
II Chronicles (Mrs. Moore)
Lamentations (Only picked by yours truly and I am lamenting that fact!)
“Brother from another mother” vote: Mark Meynell (a writer and teacher in the UK) was the only other one besides yours truly to include both Ecclesiastes and Habakkuk on his list. May his tribe increase!
Most surprising book(s) not picked: For me, there were no real surprises. I did not expect Nahum or III John to make anyone’s list.
It is a good reminder that the entire Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit but that does not mean that every book of the Bible is equally important/relevant.
And yet, it should be said that there are gems everywhere in Scripture so reading through the whole of the Bible is indispensable for knowing where these may be found.
Some other reflections:
This exercise confirmed to me that a “Reading the Bible Fast and Slow” method is a good one. See my description of that method here:
I am more convinced than ever that solid growth as a Christian comes from sustained engagement and unhurried reflection on the totality of Scripture.
Having written a commentary on Ecclesiastes I was thrilled by how many put It on their list: fifteen of us!
Another encouragement was seeing how many put I and II Samuel on their lists. These and I and II Kings almost made my own list. Recent meditation on them convinced me even more that they have much to offer.
I am curious to know the ten, or at most twelve books of the Bible that have made the biggest impact on you.
Two on my list, and no surprise to many of you, are Ecclesiastes and Habakkuk. I have published a commentary on the former and am hoping to do so with the latter.
My other ten would be: Genesis, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Jonah, John, Acts, and Colossians.
What about you? I would love to know.
I am a big advocate of constantly reading the totality of Scripture, but God moves us in a variety of ways, and some books of the Bible make a bigger impact on us.
Give me your own list.
Only rule is no more than twelve.
In I Kings 9:4 God says how Solomon will be blessed if he follows his father David’s example. You mean, the adulterer and murderer? Yes, says God. He had integrity. Huh?! The clue seems to be in I Kings 9, verses 6 and 9 in that David was never an idolater. Job makes much of not being an idolater as well (see Job 6:10). That carries lots of weight with God!