Monday, December 4, 2023

85. The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography

The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography. Alan Jacobs. 2013. 256 pages. [Source: Library] 

First sentence: The Book of Common Prayer came into being as an instrument of social and political control. There will be much else to say about its origins, but here we must begin: the prayer book was a key means by which the great lords who ruled on behalf of the young King Edward VI consolidated English rule of the English church. In making one book according to which the whole country would worship, Cranmer and his allies were quite consciously dismantling an immense and intricate edifice of devotional practice. They had both theological and political reasons for doing this, but the immediate effect was political and was widely seen as such.

This book is a biography not of a person but of a book--a religious book, The Book of Common Prayer. The chapters are as follows:

One Book for One Country
Revision, Banishment, Restoration
Becoming Venerable
The Book in the Social World
Objects, Bodies, and Controversies
The Pressures of the Modern
Many Books for Many Countries
The Prayer Book and Its Printers

Many chapters are chronological--focusing on the history of the book--religious/theological, political, social, and actual history. But the later chapters focus less on history and are more thematically arranged. I really found the first half engaging and fascinating. It was packed with so much I didn't know but wanted to know. The later chapters were more on changing times and the falling apart of the church. Well, that is an exaggeration I'm sure. It isn't so much falling apart of "the church" as it is the falling apart of the "British Empire" and the "Church of England." The book does not particularly "hold" like-minded individuals together as "one" worshipping body. There is no "one" book of Common Prayer, each country, each denominational break off can publish their own revision of the prayer book. If it sounds like I have a problem with that, I don't. [My personal favorite is the 1928 American revision of the Book of Common Prayer.]

I enjoyed this one for the most part. It probably can come across as a bit dry if you do not bring an interest in the subject. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Sunday Salon #49

Current Bibles

RSV CE 2 (which I finished and reviewed this past week):1 Samuel; Jeremiah; Lamentations; Baruch; Romans; 1 Corinthians;  2 Samuel, Psalms; Ezekiel; 2 Corinthians; Galatians; Ephesians; Philippians; 1 Thessalonians; 2 Thessalonians; 1 Timothy; 2 Timothy; 1 Peter; 2 Peter; 1 John; 2 John; 3 John; Jude; Revelation; Gospel of John

NASB 77 (Nelson Royal Reference) Exodus 20-40; Leviticus; Numbers; Deuteronomy; John; Acts; Romans; 1 Corinthians; 2 Corinthians; Galatians; Ephesians; Philippians; Colossians; 1 Thessalonians; 2 Thessalonians; 1 Timothy; 2 Timothy; Titus; Philemon; Hebrews; James; 1 Peter; 2 Peter; 1 John; 2 John; 3 John; Jude; Revelation; Joshua 1-12; Psalms 1-23

KJV Giant Reference (which I finished and reviewed this past week): Psalms 119:105-176; 120-150; Acts; Romans; Job; Proverbs; Ecclesiastes; 2 Corinthians; Philippians; Colossians; 1 Thessalonians; 2 Thessalonians; 1 Timothy; 2 Timothy; Titus; Philemon; Hebrews; 1 Peter; 2 Peter; 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude; Gospel of John, Revelation; 

NKJV Wide Margin Sovereign Ruth; John; Genesis; Job; 1 Chronicles 1-12; Obadiah; Micah; Nahum; Jonah; Matthew; Galatians; 

ESV with Apocrypha by Anglican House Publishers -- Psalms 1-14;

KJV Chronological Bible. I've read the first 365 pages. It is arranged chronologically. Everything is all out of sorts, but I'm fairly certain I've read all of Genesis through Joshua and the book of Job. But I've also read a handful of verses from other places. I've read 365/1515 pages. 24% done.

NKJV bedtime: Psalms 1-41; Matthew; Mark; Romans; 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Tea-ology #1

The "first" Bible I'll be journeying through is the New Chronological Bible by World Bible Publishers from 1980. It is the King James Version of the Bible. It is "large print" and black letter. It is edited by R. Jerome Boone. The chronological arrangement seems to be the work of one man. 

Even before the table of contents, we have our first "help" which is Salvation in 4 words: 
  • Salvation Needed Romans 3:3
  • Salvation Provide 1 Peter 2:24
  • Salvation Offered Ephesians 2:8
  • Salvation Accepted 1 John 5:12

The Bible is arranged in an outline with twelve major headings.
  1. Development of the Early World
  2. Development of Israel as a Tribe
  3. Development of Israel as a Nation
  4. Development of Israel as a Kingdom
  5. Division of Israel into a Dual Kingdom
  6. Survival of Israel in the Southern Kingdom
  7. Captivity of Israel in Babylonia
  8. Restoration of Israel as a Nation
  9. Preservation of Israel During the Intertestamental Period
  10. Inauguration of the Kingdom of God on Earth
  11. Continuation of the Kingdom of God on Earth
  12. Consummation of the Kingdom of God on Earth 
The earliest section, so far, is the most choppy. I don't envy anyone the task of trying to mix and blend the whole Bible into a grand opening. (I personally would not mess with Genesis 1:1, but that is just me)

Here is how Boone worked it:
Psalms 93:2
Psalms 90:2
Colossians 1:17
John 1:1-2
Proverbs 8:12-31
Genesis 1:1
Genesis 2:4
Genesis 1:2-5, 6-8,
Genesis 2:5-6
Genesis 1:9-13, 14-19, 20-23, 24-26, 
Genesis 2:7
Genesis 5:1
Genesis 2:18-25
Genesis 3:20
Genesis 1:27
Genesis 5:2
Genesis 1:28-31
Genesis 2:2-3
Genesis 2:1
Isaiah 45:18
Colossians 1:16
John 1:3
Isaiah 14:12-15
Ezekiel 28:13-16
Genesis 2:8-17
Genesis 3:1-7, 8-24

Any arrangement is going to obviously reveal the theological belief system of the arranger, the editor. For example, in this instance the interpretation that Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 refer to Satan's fall. 

I started reading on November 29, 2023. The first day I "roughly" read Genesis 1-11 and the book of Job. Job was uninterrupted (which was nice). The opening bits were choppy in my opinion. The second day (which is not over yet) I've read of Abram/Abraham through the birth of Jacob and Esau. So roughly Genesis 11-26.

I am enjoying the font type, font size, and double column layout. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

19. Holy Bible (Giant Print Reference Bible) (KJV)

King James Version, Giant Print, End of Verse Reference, Special Helps. 1976. Nelson 882BR. 1962 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

I absolutely loved, loved, loved this one. It was love at first sight. Yes, I love the King James Version. But there was something special about this one that made me love it even more than you might expect.

This one has a padded cover. It is surprisingly light weight despite being giant print. Now "light weight" might be a relative term, obviously. But I have read and carried other "Super Giant" or "Giant Print" bibles that were bulky and just HEAVY. I don't know how this one is so "giant" and yet not bulky. But it was. It is. 

Is there ghosting? Yes. Some. Some pages are more obvious than others. But for the most part it was never a distraction. Perhaps because the font color was so dark. The black is genuinely BLACK. The red [Words of Christ] are a very DARK red. Very easy on the eyes all things considered. The text colors were not faded or faint. 

This one is two columns. Words of Christ in red--as I mentioned before. It is verse by verse. 

This one has some bells and whistles. More than you might expect for being "text only." This one features end of verse references. Not a TON of references. There are plenty of verses without any references at all. But when references do appear they are at the end of the verse--a handful. This one also defines some archaic words. Again not a great amount. Perhaps not as many as one would want if one was struggling with readability. Sometimes the words they choose to define are easy to understand without any helps. While other words that are more difficult they chose not to define. 

This one features a substantial family section--pages to fill out with personal information. 

The back matter is surprisingly MORE than what I was expecting. 
  • What is the Bible? (one page article)
  • Prophecies of the Messiah Fulfilled in Jesus Christ (nine page table/chart)
  • Bible in a year reading plan (four pages)
  • Summary of the books of the Bible (eight pages)
  • How to Study the Bible (thirteen page article)
  • first mentioned things in the Bible (two page index)
  • concordance (eighty-six pages)
  • eight color maps
As for the translation, it is the King James Version (which I personally adore). 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, November 27, 2023

18. Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, 2nd Catholic Edition

Holy Bible, RSV CE 2 (Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition). God. 2006. 1096 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 

I am not a Catholic. I mention this first and foremost so that everyone knows I am not an expert by any means on what makes this one unique, special, distinct, different, etc. Apparently the first Catholic edition of the RSV was done in 1966. This is the second edition done in 2006. I'm not sure how these two editions differ or even if they do differ. (Though I imagine they must in some way). It is by Ignatius Press. 

This one does include extra books not found in [most] Protestant Bibles (for several centuries). Tobit, Judith, extra bits of Esther and Daniel, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees. It does not include the whole of the Apocrypha. There are RSV Bibles published that do have more of the Apocrypha than this edition does. 

The paper is CREAM or off-white. There is very little ghosting. The pages are super glossy. Though this may not help some readers of this review, the paper reminds me of World Book paper. It is slick and smooth. 

It is double column. It is black letter. The font size of the text is on the smaller side. If I had to guess I'd say maybe around 8 pt font. Though I am NOT an expert in determining font size. 

I have not read this edition side by side with either the 1952 or 1971 (both non-Catholic) or the 1966 (Catholic). I have no idea what revisions were made or how many were made. I think one of the revisions made was to update the "thous." 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

84. Memorizing Scripture

Memorizing Scripture: The Basics, Blessings, and Benefits of Meditating on God's Word. Glenna Marshall. 2023. 160 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: When I was a child growing up in the '80s, my church participated in a Scripture memorization program designed to teach children to quickly memorize verses and the books of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. 

Who is this book for? It is for Christians first and foremost. It is for hungry, seeking Christians. It is for Christians who are experiencing burn-outs and frustrations. It is for anyone and everyone who is curious and honestly wanting to know more about how to memorize Scripture. One of the biggest points is that memorization is NOT for the sake of memorization. It is not for the sake of bragging/boasting rights. It isn't to check something off a list, something that you "must" do to be a "good" Christian. Memorization has one point and one point only. Memorization for the sole sake of meditation. The sole purpose of meditation is to KNOW the Lord better and better and better. To grow close to Jesus Christ, to love the Lord more and more. How can one come to know the Lord better? to grow in one's love, one's faith? By meditating on the Word of God. And one of the primary ways to "chew the cud" if you will, to meditate, is by memorizing Scripture. 

I did not find the book condescending. In other words, the point of the book is not to make you the reader feel embarrassed, ashamed, less than. 

The book focuses some on the HOW but just as much if not more on the WHY. And it is the why that might just make all the difference in the world. Perhaps. 

The author seemed completely upfront and honest that this will be work and require effort. The results may be very slow in coming. One does not simply memorize verses--dozens, hundreds, thousands--overnight. One can't just sleep with a Bible under your pillow and you wake up ready to go. She encourages readers that just because it may take time--longer than you want--doesn't mean it's not worth doing. There is no one-size-fit-all time schedule for memorization. 

She does encourage memorizing whole chapters of the Bible instead of an isolated verse here and there. But she doesn't discourage memorizing single verses. I think start where you're able. Each chapter ends with suggested memory verses, most of these are individual verses.

Understanding the meaning of the verse is more important than being able to recite whole verses--even chapters--without any meaning, comprehension, understanding. 

Psalm 119:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” The missing element in my fight against daily sin crystallized in that moment: hiding God’s Word in my heart will help me not to sin.

Scripture memorization became a daily spiritual discipline that has changed my thought life, encouraged me in despair, helped me stand firm against temptation, flowed into many gospel conversations, and given me what I need to say when seeking to comfort and exhort my church family.

While Scripture reading and study are daily disciplines I will hold on to for life, memorization has been a bridge between reading and living. It has moved me from study of God to affection for God. My only regret? That I didn’t take the leap into the long-lost spiritual discipline of memorization sooner.

With the help of the Holy Spirit, Scripture memorization can shape the way you think and act and live. It can deepen your love for the Lord and provide the words you need in conversations with others. Hiding God’s Word in your heart can help you walk a little more closely with the Lord who gave you His Word to equip you for everything you might need in this life.

Scripture memory is not a race. It’s a journey. It’s not about recitation—it’s about saturation. It can be done in tiny bits over long periods of time, yet yielding an immeasurable harvest of fruitfulness in your life.

Memorization moves us from study to application, from knowledge to affection. Rather than viewing Scripture memorization as one more thing on your spiritual discipline to-do list, you can view it as the continuation of what you’re already doing.

Whatever you pour into your mind will affect your thought life and influence your response to temptation.

What sanctifies us—makes us more and more like Jesus—is God’s Word. Scripture. All the words in the Bible.

It is never a loss to think about God’s Word.

Christians know the Word because they know the One who spoke it. They know the Word Himself, and His voice comforts them in the valley of the shadow of death. And because they know His voice, they know that everything He has promised about eternity with Him will be true.

The Bible is God’s voice, written down for us. Through His chosen means of revelation, we learn who He is, who we are, how we needed rescue from slavery to sin and the domain of darkness. We’re given the story of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection—how He offers light and life to all who believe in Him for the forgiveness of sins. We understand what it means to follow Him, to persevere in the faith, to take the gospel into the world, and to live as the body of Christ as we wait for His return. We have the full story of redemption, and though we are still living it, we know that God has written a very good ending. He has given us what we need in Scripture to keep listening to His voice until we see Him face-to-face. One day, we’ll hear it with all the glorious pitch, tenor, and tone that He intended—but until then, we hold fast to the written word that was once a mystery “but now revealed to his saints” (Col. 1:26). We’ll read it, study it, meditate on it, treasure it. We’ll memorize it because it is no empty word for us but our very life (see Deut. 32:47).

What protects the man in Psalm 1 from worldliness and sinful behavior? Meditating on God’s Word day and night. What produces fruit in every season of life? Being rooted in God’s Word, drawing nourishment from it at all times. This is more than daily Bible reading, though it is not less than that. It is an extension of Bible reading, really. Meditation plunges you deeper into the verses and passages you’re reading, saturating your heart with their meaning, one repeated word or phrase at a time.

The more we dwell on His words, the more apparent the disease, and the more decisive its removal. What’s left is a healthier Christian who can continue to grow and flourish in godliness as the Word of God dwells in him or her richly. When the words of the Lord live in your heart, they change your heart. How do we let them dwell in our hearts richly? By feasting on them regularly, thinking on them, reciting them—mumbling them over and over to ourselves.

I want to know how to endure suffering, remain steadfast, and avoid sin. I want to know God better than I do so that I can love Him more and better grasp His love for me. I want to find deep satisfaction in the Lord and to have untarnished joy in Him when life is hard. I want to be vindicated from those who do not love what I believe, and I want the courage to share the gospel with them anyway. I want to know how to obey and be led by the Spirit to do so. Psalm 119 promises those benefits when we fix our minds on Scripture day and night.

If you are a believer in Jesus, you already recognize His voice because you know Him. But now you can dwell on the sound and strength of His voice day and night through memorization.
To love God with all your heart, you must also love Him with your mind. Knowledge of God can grow your love for Him, and Scripture memorization is a beneficial tool for bridging the gap between knowledge and affection.

We never study God simply to acquire knowledge, and we don’t memorize Scripture simply to be able to recite it. No, the bedrock of both study and meditation is relationship. We study and meditate on God’s Word in order to know and love God better. Everything in our Christian life flows from what we believe and love about God. Meditation on God’s chosen means of revelation helps us get there.
Jesus’ command to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength isn’t an arbitrary demand from a love-hungry God whose strength ebbs and flows with our waxing and waning affections. God doesn’t need our love because He is self-sufficient in and of Himself. He’s no Tinker Bell whose existence depends on our belief. Yet, we are commanded to love Him anyway. Why? Because loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength is unequivocally for our good. Orienting our hearts toward what glorifies God will, in turn, keep our hearts happy in Him. The more we think about Him and grow in affection for Him, the fuller our joy.

Joy isn’t found in loving ourselves. Joy lives in deepened affection for our God. Jesus explained that His purpose in speaking these things about obedience and love was so that His joy may be in us and that our joy may be full (see John 15:11). Fixing the gaze of your heart, soul, mind, and strength on your Maker will cultivate more affection for Him, even when you don’t feel anything.

We interpret pain through the lens of God’s character and his ultimate mercy. By “calling to mind” important truths, we are able to stop listening to the circumstances around us and even the noise inside our heads. Lament dares us to hope again, and again, and again.

What I’ve learned in the years I’ve been memorizing Scripture is that every sentence can preach a sermon to your heart.

If all you can do is breathe out one verse over and over again, by all means do it.

And that is our goal here, isn’t it? For God’s Word to flourish in our hearts and shape our thoughts. We will be comforted more readily in suffering when our hearts have been planted with God’s words to us in suffering. Hope will grow from the truths hidden in your heart.

The manner in which we deliver God’s Word to a troubled heart matters. Season your speech with God’s Word but do so with care. Your discouraged friend doesn’t need you to shout Romans 8:28 in her face when she is in the valley of the shadow of death. She needs you to pray it with confidence when you’re in her living room, holding her hand, sitting with her in her suffering.

One of the things I love about memorizing Scripture is how slow the process is. It is not a quick path. Memorization takes a lot of time and regular work. But that is kind of the point. The plodding work of wrapping our minds around phrases, sentences, and lists forces us to slowly think through verses we might otherwise have skipped over.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, November 26, 2023

83. O Come, O Come Emmanuel

O Come, O Come Emmanuel: A Liturgy for Daily Worship from Advent to Ephiphany. Jonathan Gibson. 2023. 380 pages. [Source: Borrowed]

First sentence: Christmas is my favorite time of year.

Premise/plot: O Come, O Come Emmanuel is a companion book to Jonathan Gibson's Be Thou My Vision (2021). The original provides readers with thirty days of liturgical daily worship. It weaves traditional liturgical elements with Scripture and church history. O Come, O Come Emmanuel has devotions for November 28th through January 6th. Is it absolutely necessary? Perhaps not. After all, one could simply use the original Be Thou My Vision in December and January like you have been doing the rest of the year. What has changed between the two books? The Scripture readings are specifically chosen for the season--about a chapter sometimes not even a full chapter. The catechism portion is reduced to those questions that specifically deal with the incarnation. The meditations are about the incarnation as well. But I would say the basic structure and most of the elements are exactly the same as the original. (I forgot to mention that each day has a 'song' to read or sing.) 

Is this one more substantive than your average advent devotional? Probably. Is it more substantive than the original Be Thou My Vision? No. It's about the same. If you have the first book, this one is a luxury addition. 

Scripture readings include:
Genesis 3:1-15
Genesis 22:1-19
Genesis 49:1-12
Numbers 24:1-19
Deuteronomy 18:1-22
2 Samuel 7:1-16
Psalm 2
Psalm 16
Psalm 45
Psalm 68
Psalm 89
Psalm 110
Psalm 118
Job 19
Isaiah 7:10-17; and Isaiah 9:1-7
Isaiah 11
Isaiah 40
Isaiah 42
Isaiah 49
Isaiah 50
Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Jeremiah 23:1-6; 33:14-26
Micah 5
Zechariah 9:9-17; 13:1-9; Malachi 3:1-4
Luke 1:26-56
Luke 1:57-80
Luke 2:1-21
Luke 2:22-40
Matthew 1:1-25
John 1:1-18
Colossians 1:1-20
Ephesians 3:1-12
Romans 1:1-17
Philippians 2:1-11
Isaiah 60
Hebrews 1
Hebrews 2
John 5
Psalm 72
Matthew 2

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible