Saturday, January 02, 2010

New Testament yes, Old Testament no, no, no!

Tackling the New Testament is much easier than successfully getting through the Old.
It's more familiar
It's shorter [NT: 260 chapters versus OT: 969!]
But, as Bible translator, Doming Lucasi observed,
Having the New Testament without the Old Testament is like having a sword without a handle.
If you want to come to grips with that handle, here are some tips that helped me.
1. Nobody said you had to read the Old Testament through from beginning to end.
2. Nobody ever said you had to read the Old Testament before the New Testament.
3. Nobody ever said that every part of the Bible is equally important: it is not wrong to spend more time reading the stories than all those genealogies
Ever noticed that although every sin, any sin will keep you out of God's coming kingdom, not all sins are equal?
Similarly, each part of the Bible is important and has something to teach you, but it is more important to know that you are a sinner who needs Jesus to save you, than it is to know all of the 613 laws in the Old Testament!

Suggestions for making the task easier:
1. Read part of the Old Testament and part of the New Testament each time you work on your project of reading through the whole Old Testament.
2. For a balanced read-through, try reading 4 chapters of the Old Testament for every one chapter you read of the New. One way of doing this is to read 3 chapters of the part of the Old you are currently tackling, one psalm and one chapter of the New Testament.
3. Read a short book or two between tackling the longer ones, to break it up and to give you a sense of achievement. It's fun to be able to say
I've read five books of the Old Testament
even if these include
Genesis - 50 chapters
Ruth - 4 chapters
Obadiah -1 chapter
Haggai - 2 chapters
Lamentations - 5 chapters.
4. Don't spend a long time over the long genealogical lists. You can always go back to these on a later read-through. But the goal now is to read it through once.
5. In a rapid read-through, don't stop to ponder the many curious and strange things you encounter, because this will prevent you from completing your task.
It is important to think through the many problems you encounter, but you don't have to do it all at once, and often, keeping going will explain a problem you met earlier. Scripture explains Scripture.

For more help, please read my earlier post It's that time of year again.

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