Yikes! Nearly 3 months since I last posted! My most sincere apologies. No real excuse for my negligence, only procrastination (time is passing so much more quickly now that I’m really middle-aged) and chronic lack of energy.
Now that three months have passed, I’m going to work on the assumption that you’ve been browsing through and are beginning to get a sense of the arrangement of the Bible. Chances are also good that you might have begun reading at Genesis 1:1 and just kept on reading until…. WHAM!!! Where’d the story go?
Remember — the Bible is not just one Book, it is a library, a compilation of shorter works, or Books. These are arranged as follows:
The first five Books are called the Pentateuch (penta=”five” You’ll remember from high school prefixes and suffixes, right?). Genesis and Exodus are narratives of God’s creation of the world and the beginnings of His working to redeem mankind from their sins. These two books make for some pretty exciting reading, but…
When you hit the third Book, Leviticus, you are suddenly in new territory. In Exodus, Moses went up on the Mountain to receive the Law of God. Leviticus is that law, detailed in the extreme. And there’s a lot of repetition. Leviticus (and Deuteronomy, the 5th Book of the Pentateuch) are well worth delving into — but for the time being, you might want to wait until you’ve read more of the narrative, gotten more under your belt.
After the Pentateuch come the History Books, outlining the history of the development of the Nation of Israel, from the earliest battles to secure the Promised Land, the cycles of faithfulness, followed by compromise followed by deterioration into abandonment of God… followed by punishment, followed by repentence, followed by renewed faithfulness…. The writers of these books are tough and gritty and although some of our modern translations want to make some of the grit a bit more polite, the stories in these Books are the sort that grab the imagination and pull you forward.
The Book of Job sits with the Poetry and Wisdom Books. It’s not really a history, per se, or a prophecy… although it contains both.
After the Wisdom literature (which probably should be read a bit at a time, interspersed with the other readings — I’ll outline that soon) come the Prophets. A “Major'” prophet is not more important than a “minor” one — he’s just had a lot more to say! The Prophetic books fit in with the narratives of the Histories, but they also stand alone. (Note: in reading the Book of Isaiah, if you’re a musician, you’ll recognize many of the texts from Handel’s Messiah.)
The New Testament is divided:
History (The Book of Acts)
Having a sense of the genre of a particular book will help you have an greater ease in its writing and style.
Next up: reading for meaning. Inductive Bible Study.