Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ten year anniversary

In 2005,  Ron, one of our church members in Bathurst, encouraged us to read through the New Testament in 3 months, and gave us a pamphlet that gave you readings for each day, from September to Christmas.

Only a few of us joined in, but I enjoyed reading through the TNIV New Testament, and then decided to read through the Old Testament. That was not easy, because it is over 3 times as long as the New Testament, and has many chapters of genealogies and lists.

But I got through it, and decided that in the future I'd read a bit of the Old Testament and a bit of the New and go through them both together.

Over the next ten years, I read through four study Bibles, listened to two audio Bibles, worked through the Bible in nine different translations, and last year read through the Greek New Testament.

This has been an enriching experience.

One of the most enjoyable read-throughs, which I did once in the TNIV and once in the new NIV, was going through the unusually-named The Books of the Bible, which is a reorganised Bible, with chapters, headings and verses removed, but with judicious spacing to mark the different sections.
This version is partly thematic and partly chronological. The First Testament is more like, but not exactly the same as, the way the Hebrew Bible is organised.

Most of the Bibles I read are in the tradition of the King James Version of the Bible [which closely follows the earlier Tyndale Bible], but two of them have been translated without letting the KJV dictate the agenda. I find this refreshing, as it provides some interesting new insights into what the original authors may have intended. These two versions are the New Jerusalem Bible, available, if you scroll down, here, and the one I'm working through now, the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

The two audio Bibles were well worth listening to. I enjoyed the African American dramatic version of the TNIV called The Bible Experience. (If you purchase a copy today, it will be in the recent version of the NIV.) And I listened to a lightly-dramatised free-of-charge version of the King James Version from Faith Comes By Hearing. I think it would be hard-going to read through the King James, and if I were trying to, I think I'd use a version such as the Cambridge Paragraph version of the KJV, because its usual format of  a paragraph per verse spoils the flow of God's Word. (There is a copy of this edition available in Logos Bible software.)

I enjoyed reading the ESV through twice, in the Reformation Study Bible and in the ESV Study Bible. Both of these versions have excellent helps for understanding the message of the Bible, but  I am always left with questions they didn't answer, or questions whose answers raised more questions!

It was fascinating going through the NIV Archaeological Study Bible in the 1984 edition of the NIV. This Bible has lots of maps,photos, diagrams and articles about the historical background of the Bible. Did you know that the oldest part of the Bible that exists as an archaeological artefact is the wonderful Aaronic blessing, at the end of Numbers 6:

      The LORD bless you
         and keep you;
      the LORD make his face shine on you
         and be gracious to you;
     the LORD turn his face toward you
         and give you peace.

I enjoyed the exercise of reading through three idiomatic Bible versions: the Contemporary English Version, the Australian edition of the Good News Bible and the New Living Translation
I can see the value of the CEV for new readers of English, but found the translation of some parts of the Bible (such as Ephesians) too loose to be useful.

Having nearly been through the whole Bible thirteen times over the past ten years (after I finish reading through The Holman Christian Standard Bible in the Mission of God study Bible edition), I'm looking forward to the next part of the journey!

I'm thinking of reading through J B Phillips' version of the New Testament, and would like to tackle the New King James Version and the New Revised Standard Version.

And I'm eagerly awaiting the new Zondervan NIV Study Bible, edited by Don Carson, which is expected to be released next month.

By the way, I have devised my own Excel spreadsheet to make the read-through easier. I never read from Genesis to Revelation, but read a few chapters of the First Testament, a Psalm and a chapter or two of the New Testament, as often as I can. Sometimes every day. Sometimes I miss a day or more. Life gets in the way. Then I pick up where I left off.

And I don't begin on 1st January, which is the worst day to begin anything. Any other day is a good day to start reading the Bible!

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