Reading the Bible Through the Year
A new year begins with a new reading of God’s Word. I debated taking a different tack but decided reading the Bible through in a year again is the best, which I’ve done three of the last four years. In 2021, I tried a personal study option and the outcome wasn’t so good, as I ended up feeling distanced from any form of intimacy with God. One advantage of a daily reading plan, and it is a big one, is that it requires consistency. As in all things, consistency builds intimacy, and that is what I pursue.
There are many different options when one considers reading the complete Bible in a year. I used the same plan in 2019 and 2020. It includes both OT and NT readings each day. I had previously read from front to back, which I did not find as engaging. Last year, I read a chronological plan, which obviously reserved the entire NT for the end of the year. This year, I chose a plan that is thematic in nature. It mixes the two Testaments in consistent fashion, albeit in different order than the 2019/2020 plan.
Along with selecting a reading plan, one must decide which version of the Word to read from. I do not think it possible to list all the versions of the Bible that are available, as they seem to multiply logarithmically daily. Well, that is an exaggeration, but I think you get my point. My personal favorites are:
ESV Study Bible
Stone Edition, Artscroll English Tanach (OT only)
The Amplified Bible (Classic)
Tree of Life Version
The Passion Bible (NT+Psa, Pro)
The New Testament in Modern English – J.B. Phillips
The New Testament, An Expanded Translation – Kenneth S. Wuest
This year, I am returning to the Stone Edition, The Artscroll English Tanach for OT readings, and the Wuest translation for NT readings. I love the Tanach for three reasons: it is a translation of the original Hebrew and Aramaic texts, so it is unfiltered by non-Hebraic translations and governmental incursions over the milennia (Contantine, King James, etc.). Because of this purity and its closeness to Hebrew culture, it reads as a living experience, not a retellng of ancient history. This is further enhanced by the rabbinic notes, which help interpret words, thoughts, and concepts in a similarly intimate to the original way. To illustrate:
And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:6-10 (ESV)
God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate between water and water.” So God made the firmament and separated between the waters that were beneath the firmament and the waters that were above the firmament. And it was so. God called to the firmament: “Heaven.” And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
God said, “Let the waters beneath the heaven be gathered into one area, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called to the dry land: “Earth,” and to the gathering of waters He called: “Seas.” And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:6-10 (Tanach)
The Wuest translation was recommended by a friend about three years ago and has been a favorite since. The word “Expanded” is part of the title, so one is not surprised that it is longer in form. An example:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. Ephesians 1: 3-4 (ESV)
May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be eulogized, the One who conferred benefactions upon us in the sphere of every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, even as He selected us out for himself in Him before the foundations of the universe were laid, to be holy ones and without blemish before His searching, penetrating gaze; Ephesians 1:3-4 (Wuest)
My normal practice when reading the Bible through in a year is to double up on daily readings, to accommodate days when I can’t read for one reason or another. This usually results in me finishing about six weeks before the end of the year, allowing for a short break, a concentrated study on a book or topic, or both.
The first year I decided to attempt the one year read, it seemed like an insurmountable mountain at first. In truth, there was almost a sense of dread at the very thought of the effort it would take. How false those feelings were! Reading God’s Word is not a task, trial, or drudgery; it is a joy and encounter with His heart.
And that is my New Year’s wish for each of you: that you will encounter God’s heart, love, and purpose for you throughout what He has wonderfully knitted together for you – just you.
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