Pick My Brain – Surprised by the Bible!

Guest contributor:  Mike Bogard, Associate Interim Pastor at First Mennonite, Hutchinson, KS

In anticipation of Western District Conference’s “Year of the Bible” which will be launched August 1-2, I have decided to read the Bible chronologically.  To be quite honest, although I have read much of the Bible, I have never set the goal of reading and recording a complete read of the whole Bible; cover to cover.  On the Western District Conference’s “Year of the Bible” website (http://www.yearofthebiblenetwork.org) under the Reading/Adult tab, I discovered three links to a variety of Bible reading plans, some of which will even keep track of your reading progress if you do the reading on their website.

I was intrigued.  I decided to get a head start on the “Year of the Bible” and picked the chronological reading plan at the www.biblestudytools.com website.  Although you can do the actual reading on their website, I chose to use the website as a guide and read the Bible on my tablet.  To this point I have read the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; and Job.  Here are some of my surprises!

A.  Most Biblical scholars place the story of Job in the pre-patriarchal (the Genesis 1-11 stories) or early patriarchal (the Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob stories) period even though it is generally agreed that Job was written sometime between the 6th and 4th century B.C.E.; which means the story was passed on orally for a long, long time. So – I read it right after Genesis 11.

B.  When you read Exodus through Deuteronomy, you read a lot of the same things over and over and over again.  I particularly noticed how the people of God are repeatedly and repeatedly and repeatedly cautioned about breaking God’s laws, especially the laws prohibiting the worship of other gods.  At times, God seems to expect the people to worship other gods and the consequences for doing so are quite severe.  It made me tremble when I think about the things, other than God, that I am tempted trust in!

C.  A third surprise was that it didn’t take nearly as long to read those six books as I imagined.  When you pick up the whole Bible and hold it in your hands, it can be intimidating to set a goal of reading the entire thing.  But on a tablet, you don’t see or feel the whole Bible as a large book you intend to read.  You also don’t notice how much you have left to read in a given book and often, you don’t know how much of the chapter you have left to read because the entire chapter won’t fit on the tablet’s screen.  The next thing you know, the chapter is read, the book is read, and the Pentateuch is read!

Reading the whole Bible does take a measure of self-discipline, but you don’t have to set a time limit on the experience.  Give it a try.  It is amazing what you discover you didn’t know, and what you remember you once knew.  I anticipate that it will be a transforming experience.

Marlene Bogard says….

1.  Remember to weekly check the Year of the Bible website: www.yearofthebiblenetwork.org.  New links and downloads are added weekly.  This week added:  Bible Quiz ideas under Live It / Fun.

2.  Send us links, ideas, documents relating to how we all can engage more intentionally with the Bible.    They will be “curated” and then added to the website.

3.  The publicity on the Year of the Bible Launch (August 1-2) is almost ready.  Registration will be cheap – with phenomenal discounts for those traveling over 100 miles.

4.  Ask to join the Year of the Bible Network Facebook group.  Chime in, post ideas, respond to others.

5.  I hope my husband Mike inspires many of you to “go and do likewise!”