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Author Topic: Reading the Bible, Start to Finish  (Read 766 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: February 08, 2013, 08:51:34 AM »

Has anyone here ever read the Bible straight through, from Genesis to Revelation? What was the experience like? Was it worthwhile, in your opinion? What were the greatest challenges or most challenging sections? Will I inevitably become bogged down and give up somewhere in the books of the Pentateuch?

I am considering trying it. I've always read a bit here and a bit there, but I have an Orthodox Study Bible and I feel that reading the entire canon from start to finish would somehow open up the story, the Big Picture, for me. And reading the notes from an Orthodox perspective as I go might help me to understand how it all fits together (as the OT often seems very alien and unapproachable to me). Any stories, insights, suggestions, or warnings from experience appreciated.
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2013, 09:23:03 AM »

Has anyone here ever read the Bible straight through, from Genesis to Revelation? I am considering trying it. I've always read a bit here and a bit there, but I have an Orthodox Study Bible and I feel that reading the entire canon from start to finish would somehow open up the story, the Big Picture, for me.

I would strongly caution against doing it that way as it gives a false 'big-picture'. I suggest if you're going to read it all do it in order of precedence from a Christian perspective, historical authorship and reason for composition. Start with the Letters of Paul, the oldest recorded writings in the NT, then proceed to the Gospels and finally use the OT as background information.
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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2013, 10:10:20 AM »

Has anyone here ever read the Bible straight through, from Genesis to Revelation? I am considering trying it. I've always read a bit here and a bit there, but I have an Orthodox Study Bible and I feel that reading the entire canon from start to finish would somehow open up the story, the Big Picture, for me.

I would strongly caution against doing it that way as it gives a false 'big-picture'. I suggest if you're going to read it all do it in order of precedence from a Christian perspective, historical authorship and reason for composition. Start with the Letters of Paul, the oldest recorded writings in the NT, then proceed to the Gospels and finally use the OT as background information.

Start from John.
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« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2013, 10:30:35 AM »

I read the entire New Testament once as a sort of a canon. Not much if anything really stuck to my mind, though I am sure something did get stocked somewhere in the depths of my soul. I have heard similar stories from others. It doesn't work if you try to force into you. Nowadays, I read the Bible rather sporadically, but pick stuff up from services, from articles, from sites, from talks, etc., and while I am very far from an expert in the Bible, what I do know is very meaningful and useful. That's what I would recommend -- that what you read is meaningful and gets filtered through your entire being (mind, heart, action). Anyway, it depends on each person and each situation. Some people can probably read it and memorize a lot of stuff. It didn't happen for me because I am not that sort of learner and I was under pressure to read it all. It's actually the times when I was not trying to read but was deeply interested in the subject when I learned the most.
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« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2013, 10:33:18 AM »

Well, I disagree with Pericles and Michal. I read the Old Testament straight through way back in high school. I was using the Jewish JPS translation. All the same, I found it to be a powerful and enlightening experience, and once you've plowed through the Old Testament, the incarnation of God in the New Testament and the proclamation of the Gospel comes across as all the more amazing and momentous. If you're up to it, I say go for it. My word of caution is that the Pentateuch is probably the toughest part, especially once you're mid-way through Exodus and all the laws start coming out- dealing with the genealogies, the meticulous details of the construction of the ark, the priestly laws, guidelines to sacrifice, etc. can be a real chore and I would say don't be afraid to skim these parts and focus primarily on the narrative bits. The historical books are a pure joy (at least for me); the prophets and writings are like long beautiful poems, sometimes pretty psychedelic. I love the Old Testament.
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« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2013, 10:34:29 AM »

Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ, as one of the most eminent Church Fathers once said.
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2013, 12:36:05 AM »

Go big or go home, start with James  Tongue
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« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2013, 12:46:17 AM »

Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ, as one of the most eminent Church Fathers once said.

Blessed Jerome sort of loses eminence as you go east, but it is a wonderful quote.
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« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2013, 01:07:41 AM »

I always get bored with the geneaology passages, but otherwise it's pretty interesting.  Oh, and some of the laws sections was disheartening. That's about it.
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« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2013, 01:08:39 AM »

Has anyone here ever read the Bible straight through, from Genesis to Revelation? What was the experience like? Was it worthwhile, in your opinion? What were the greatest challenges or most challenging sections? Will I inevitably become bogged down and give up somewhere in the books of the Pentateuch?
I've done it four times (many more with the Hebrew Tanach), it truly is a worthwhile experience.  As far as the Pentateuch goes, yes it is a little difficult at first glance.  I know WAY too many atheists who get through Numbers, quit, become an atheist, and claim to have read the whole thing.  Far less so with people who have good knowledge of Scripture.  Also, as always, read The Epistle of Barnabas after you are done with the Pentateuch, I know it is not the Inspired Word of God or anything but it certainly helps when you have trouble thinking that God isn't all loving.

I am considering trying it. I've always read a bit here and a bit there, but I have an Orthodox Study Bible and I feel that reading the entire canon from start to finish would somehow open up the story, the Big Picture, for me. And reading the notes from an Orthodox perspective as I go might help me to understand how it all fits together (as the OT often seems very alien and unapproachable to me). Any stories, insights, suggestions, or warnings from experience appreciated.
Sadly, I've never read the OSB, I was unaware that they even had an OT translation.  I'll have to look into that soon.
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« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2013, 01:24:46 AM »

Has anyone here ever read the Bible straight through, from Genesis to Revelation? What was the experience like? Was it worthwhile, in your opinion? What were the greatest challenges or most challenging sections? Will I inevitably become bogged down and give up somewhere in the books of the Pentateuch?
I've done it four times (many more with the Hebrew Tanach), it truly is a worthwhile experience.  As far as the Pentateuch goes, yes it is a little difficult at first glance.  I know WAY too many atheists who get through Numbers, quit, become an atheist, and claim to have read the whole thing.  Far less so with people who have good knowledge of Scripture.  Also, as always, read The Epistle of Barnabas after you are done with the Pentateuch, I know it is not the Inspired Word of God or anything but it certainly helps when you have trouble thinking that God isn't all loving.

I am considering trying it. I've always read a bit here and a bit there, but I have an Orthodox Study Bible and I feel that reading the entire canon from start to finish would somehow open up the story, the Big Picture, for me. And reading the notes from an Orthodox perspective as I go might help me to understand how it all fits together (as the OT often seems very alien and unapproachable to me). Any stories, insights, suggestions, or warnings from experience appreciated.
Sadly, I've never read the OSB, I was unaware that they even had an OT translation.  I'll have to look into that soon.


Many priests and bishops have encourage us to read the New Testament first and then read it several times before even attempting to read the Old Testament. Let's face it, there is much violence and R-rated stuff in the Old Testament, parts of which are not suitable for a child under 12 to read without adult supervision.

In fact, I was told that novices in monasteries are told to read the New Testament repeatedly. Many monks know many passages of the New Testament by heart. They also read the Psalms as part of the daily Holy Services, so even if someone were to read only the Psalms and the New Testament, and attend all the services of the Church, they would be blessed.
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« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2013, 01:53:59 AM »

Has anyone here ever read the Bible straight through, from Genesis to Revelation? What was the experience like? Was it worthwhile, in your opinion? What were the greatest challenges or most challenging sections? Will I inevitably become bogged down and give up somewhere in the books of the Pentateuch?
I've done it four times (many more with the Hebrew Tanach), it truly is a worthwhile experience.  As far as the Pentateuch goes, yes it is a little difficult at first glance.  I know WAY too many atheists who get through Numbers, quit, become an atheist, and claim to have read the whole thing.  Far less so with people who have good knowledge of Scripture.  Also, as always, read The Epistle of Barnabas after you are done with the Pentateuch, I know it is not the Inspired Word of God or anything but it certainly helps when you have trouble thinking that God isn't all loving.

I am considering trying it. I've always read a bit here and a bit there, but I have an Orthodox Study Bible and I feel that reading the entire canon from start to finish would somehow open up the story, the Big Picture, for me. And reading the notes from an Orthodox perspective as I go might help me to understand how it all fits together (as the OT often seems very alien and unapproachable to me). Any stories, insights, suggestions, or warnings from experience appreciated.
Sadly, I've never read the OSB, I was unaware that they even had an OT translation.  I'll have to look into that soon.


Many priests and bishops have encourage us to read the New Testament first and then read it several times before even attempting to read the Old Testament. Let's face it, there is much violence and R-rated stuff in the Old Testament, parts of which are not suitable for a child under 12 to read without adult supervision.

In fact, I was told that novices in monasteries are told to read the New Testament repeatedly. Many monks know many passages of the New Testament by heart. They also read the Psalms as part of the daily Holy Services, so even if someone were to read only the Psalms and the New Testament, and attend all the services of the Church, they would be blessed.
Why would a child want to read the Bible anyways Tongue

But in all seriousnes, while I do find issue with baby-siting people who have vowed to devote their entire lives to Christ our God (I would much rather have them start off learning Hebrew/Greek first), I see your point, truly it depends on the person but as someone who was taught Hebrew by a [Messianic] Jewish Rabbi I honestly would prefer reading Torah first in order to understand the context of many of the things Christ talked about.  But again, it's a matter of preference, ultimately the only wrong way to do it would be to not seek advice before making the "big decision." 
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« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2013, 02:13:06 AM »

Why is the Old Testament so intimidating to people for its R-rated content? All you need is some epistle of St. Barnabus and Origen of Alexandria and you have a rich, allegorical masterpiece. And--as heretical as this may be, which I DON'T recommend, even though I sometimes do it--consulting the Jewish Talmud can actually shine some light on troubling passages by at least explaining how it was traditionally understood, the historical context and whether or not it happened.
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« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2013, 02:58:43 AM »

I've tried to, but I failed. Tried to approach it "rationally", and it just made me angry.

I don't think you can read the NT enough, but it's good to read the OT as well. There are some great books in there, probably the best one is Job (Sirach is great too).

You should probably read a chapter in Proverbs a day, and the Psalms, and then some of the OT.

OT Commentary seems to help me a lot.

EDIT: My mother has read it cover to cover a few times.
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« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2013, 03:14:00 AM »

What I also find to be erroneous is the fad that some (Protestants) people have where reading the entire Bible in a short period of time is seen as a great achievement. Some publishers have even gone as far as to market "1-Year-Bibles" where the Bible is divided into 365 daily segments meant to be read everyday. Speed is not the point nor purpose of reading the Bible; it's a marathon, not a sprint. The Bible requires an effort to reflect upon what you read, try to live it out and truly understand it. It can take years for a person to read the entire Bible, and, there is actually nothing wrong with that--at least we know that they are learning from it diligently. Whereas, you could read the entire Bible in one year, yet not understand crap about it or have really benefited spiritually at all.
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« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2013, 04:31:59 AM »

I've read huge parts of the Scriptures and when you read the explanations of the Church Fathers you see that the greatest things are hidden in what appears to be quite meaningless, such as the genealogy at the start of some of the gospels. I couldn't understand much when reading the Scriptures without guidance of the Fathers.
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« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2013, 04:37:38 AM »

When I was in a Wesleyan holiness Church (and a fundy mindset), if you didn't read the Bible at least once a year the entire way through then you were a lukewarm Christian at best. I learnt a lot of passages during that time, but as for properly understanding it, not so much. Still, reading it often (if not fast) is a good thing IMO. At least at first.
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« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2013, 08:49:09 AM »

Beginning to end:

KJV - twice
NKJV
OSB
NIV - English, Spanish (parallel text- both read, concurrently)
CEV

Now I just follow the Daily Readings.
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« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2013, 09:23:45 AM »

Thanks! I appreciate all of the different angles, suggestions, and stories. I am going to go ahead and give it a shot. I am familiar with all of the NT and bits of the OT, but I want to experience it all as a kind of unfolding story. The OSB notes should help me understand how the Church understands parts the OT as I move along.
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« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2013, 12:12:21 PM »

I am currently following a reading schedule where I read a little from the OT/Proverbs/NT at a time.  I am about 1/3 of the way through the bible and can attest to the spiritual benefits.  I really think the caution about the OT is in part due to our impartial memory of it's content.  Now that I am actually reading the OT systematically I am having much less problem with the battles, etc.  I am not without my questions but the experience is strengthening my faith and not weakening it. 

I would not try to read it straight through without content from the NT.  Perhaps it would be advisable to at least stick to the daily readings of the NT as you read the OT. 

Here is the plan I use:

http://www.saintandrew.net/files/Bible%20Plan/St.AndrewOrthodoxBibleReadingPlan.pdf

PS, I confess I skimmed through the genealogies and the military "roll calls".
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« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2013, 02:01:22 PM »

I've been looking into this too. Somewhere I read that Christ is the beginning and end of Holy Scriptures so one should begin with the Gospels and the rest of the NT, along with the Psalms, then the OT. The Holy Scriptures are of Christ.

THE LETTER OF ATHANASIUS, OUR HOLY FATHER, ARCHBISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA,TO MARCELLINUS, ON THE INTERPRETATION OF THE PSALMS--
is great overview of all the Scriptures and especially the Psalms.

http://www.athanasius.com/psalms/aletterm.htm
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« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2013, 02:18:28 PM »

Has anyone here ever read the Bible straight through, from Genesis to Revelation? What was the experience like? Was it worthwhile, in your opinion? What were the greatest challenges or most challenging sections? Will I inevitably become bogged down and give up somewhere in the books of the Pentateuch?
What you are planning is a good thing.  I have read different English translations from beginning to end.  I would start with page 1, Genesis, and read the Bible straight through.  If you have questions, don't hesitate to ask your priest or someone who knows the Scriptures.  You can also read commentaries to biblical books.  Sometimes it is harder trying to keep track of all the laws and sacrifices layed out in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, but it makes me appreciate how the LORD took care of that 2000 years ago.  May the LORD be with your endeavor.
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« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2013, 02:35:12 PM »

My advice is to caution you to take things in context to when they were said.
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« Reply #23 on: February 09, 2013, 03:18:55 PM »

I'm about 3/4 through the Bible on audiobook. It's the NKJV.
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« Reply #24 on: February 09, 2013, 03:19:20 PM »

Eventually, im going to do it, and by read straight through I mean.

Ready some OT
Read some NT
reason some Psalms
Read some of the Gospels

and keep repreating until i finsih
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« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2013, 03:54:09 PM »

I have done this dozens of times. I highly recommend it -there is no other literature remotely like the Bible. It is also sacramental.

You will find as many questions there as you will answers, which is half the fun. But do remain mindful of guidance, whether of spiritual persons, the NT as illumining the OT, writings of the wise who came before us, and your OSB notes will also help, and always pray as you read, as the Psalmist did, that God reveal wondrous things from his law. I also recommend looking at the article in your OSB by Bishop Kallistos Ware on how to read the Bible before you begin and perhaps again as a refresher in the middle of the process (the article can also be reviewed here: http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/11/1/4.aspx ).

Prov 4:23:  "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Above all, read with prayer and repentance. A stumbling stone is the Chief Cornerstone. "In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't." -Blaise Pascal  
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« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2013, 05:26:06 PM »

Also, PLEASE consider getting a commentary on the Old Testament by the Church Fathers to help you understand it. Many are available for free online via PDF. Consult your Priest first though, as he will probably be able to recommend you one that he sees appropriate for you at the time. The OSB study notes are good, but I find them incomplete in many areas and oftentimes they will just totally overlook certain passages.
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« Reply #27 on: February 09, 2013, 05:47:09 PM »

Also, PLEASE consider getting a commentary on the Old Testament by the Church Fathers to help you understand it. Many are available for free online via PDF. Consult your Priest first though, as he will probably be able to recommend you one that he sees appropriate for you at the time. The OSB study notes are good, but I find them incomplete in many areas and oftentimes they will just totally overlook certain passages.

Thanks for that, James. Can you recommend a commentary that you have found particularly helpful?
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« Reply #28 on: February 09, 2013, 06:46:59 PM »

The writings of Origen of Alexandria are VERY helpful; in fact, he's probably the one reason I didn't become an atheist after reading the Old Testament like many people do once they finish the Torah. Here are some of his writings via pdf that have been translated, if you dig, you can find more. Some sources also sell his homilies on Old Testament books on paperback books. This article also explains how Origen interpreted the Scriptures and how you shouldn't be afraid to use allegory when something seems too harsh. Secondly, the epistle of St. Barnabus is VITAL in properly understanding the Old Testament; here is a pdf version. Finally, St. John Chrysostom's homilies--which are widely available for almost every book of the Bible--are very helpful. However, St. John took a more literalist approach to the Scriptures, which may conflict with the proper Origen way, however, despite the literal or metaphoric difference, they both ultimately agreed on the same message as to what we could learn from the passages and how we ought to conduct ourselves etc.
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« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2013, 06:51:41 PM »

I've read the Torah straight through, of course that isn't the entire Bible.

Seeing that the bible is a compilation of books - the years vary on the books.   I really would not see the point of reading it straight through... Read all of it of course - at some point. Ezekiel and Proverbs would get very long for me going from their first chapter until the end.
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« Reply #30 on: February 09, 2013, 07:02:05 PM »

I somehow managed to get through the Torah, Joshua Judges, Ruth and 1 Samuel. After that, I just died.
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« Reply #31 on: February 09, 2013, 08:39:57 PM »

The writings of Origen of Alexandria are VERY helpful; in fact, he's probably the one reason I didn't become an atheist after reading the Old Testament like many people do once they finish the Torah. Here are some of his writings via pdf that have been translated, if you dig, you can find more. Some sources also sell his homilies on Old Testament books on paperback books. This article also explains how Origen interpreted the Scriptures and how you shouldn't be afraid to use allegory when something seems too harsh. Secondly, the epistle of St. Barnabus is VITAL in properly understanding the Old Testament; here is a pdf version. Finally, St. John Chrysostom's homilies--which are widely available for almost every book of the Bible--are very helpful. However, St. John took a more literalist approach to the Scriptures, which may conflict with the proper Origen way, however, despite the literal or metaphoric difference, they both ultimately agreed on the same message as to what we could learn from the passages and how we ought to conduct ourselves etc.

This is very helpful. Thank you.
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« Reply #32 on: February 16, 2013, 09:41:06 AM »

I have done it several times. I think everyone should do it once.  Of course, keep in mind it is not a novel.  What it does do is at least familiarize you with the entirety of the Bible which can then be more readily used as a reference. Many people don't really have an understanding of what is in the Bible.  Who knows, maybe you will run across some passage that speaks to you, that you might never have found in any other way. It may make it more usable to you when you go back to a more conventional method of study and reference.
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« Reply #33 on: February 17, 2013, 03:26:45 PM »


Why would a child want to read the Bible anyways Tongue


after i learnt to read, my mum (a protestant) suggested that i read the new testament before starting on the old, just to slow me down a bit.
but i still read the old testament before i was 12.
after that did not need any guidance from my school about drugs, violence or sex!
 Wink

it's good to get really young kids books of Bible stories, but as soon as they are able to read with less pictures (age about 10 - 14 depending on the kid) then i recommend the orthodox study Bible with it's beautiful icons and study notes (to answer the questions mum and dad can't!)

so, i strongly suggest to any kids reading this that they should read the Bible, starting with the new testament and ask an adult for advice about any difficult bits.
if you find a bit that seems too long or boring, make a note of it to go back to later, and then keep reading.
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« Reply #34 on: February 17, 2013, 03:32:29 PM »

I always liked to read, even when I was a kid. I liked the adventure in the story of Moses.
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