Sunday, July 10, 2011

Book Review: Read Your Bible One Book at a Time

Read Your Bible One Book At A Time: A Refreshing Way To Read God's Word with New Insight and Meaning. Woodrow Kroll. 2002. Gospel Light Publications. 150 pages.

From the introduction:

Have you ever come home in the evening after a long day, clicked on the TV, and found yourself in the middle of a movie? You've missed the first half hour, so you missed the setup. What's the plot? Who are these characters? How do they relate to one another? Or maybe you're quietly watching your favorite TV program when the phone rings. It's your friend from work and she wants to talk. You mute the television. Yak, yak, yak. Finally you give up and just turn it off. You talk for almost an hour. You like your friend, but you're a little upset because you're never going to find out how your program ended. Some people read their Bible this way. They pick it up, begin in the middle of a book, and wonder why they can't figure out the story line. Or they let everything in life interrupt them. They read a chapter or two, lay God's Word aside, and never get back to it to find out how the story ends. You've probably struggled to make sense of the Bible, as everyone has. Maybe this book will help you in that endeavor. Reading whole books of the Bible in one sitting sounds like a crazy idea, but it works...Sometimes the more unusual the idea, the more likely it is to work.

Read Your Bible One Book At A Time is a refreshing way to discover the story line, uncover the plot, and find out how it all turns out. How does the plan work? It's embarrassingly simple. Just read one book of your Bible all the way through in one sitting. "You mean...?" Yes, read the whole book. Get the full story the writer intended you to get. Start at the beginning and don't quit until you reach the end. It sounds a little nutty, I know, but don't dismiss it until you've tried it. It's not really a novel idea, except as it applies to reading the Bible.
He continues,
If you wanted to read one book of the Bible--the whole book, beginning to end--which ones could you read during the same time it takes to watch It's a Wonderful Life? Hold on to your hat. You could read any book of the Bible except twelve. Only a dozen books of the Bible take longer to read than watching that classic Christmas movie. Nearly forty books of the Bible can be read in an hour or less. Half the books of the Bible can be read in less than thirty minutes. And twenty-six books can be read in fifteen minutes or less. That's pretty amazing for a book that many people think is too massive to read. When you think about it, time really isn't the problem when it comes to reading the Bible. It's a good excuse, but not good enough. How much we read of the only book God ever wrote depends mostly on how much of it we want to read. Reading God's Word is less dependent on our schedule and more dependent on our desire and discipline. (12-13)
Chapter one explains the features of the book (Read Your Bible One Book at a Time). It explains how to  best use the book. Chapter two provides readers with seven sensible reasons for reading the Bible one book at a time. (What do readers get from reading the Bible this way as opposed to reading it in other ways. What makes this system worth it...) Chapter three contains hints on how to succeed. He notes the importance of thinking inside the Book, but outside the box.
Reading through your Bible one book a time does not require a year. In fact, there is no minimum or maximum time to do this. But it does require you to think outside of the box. Most people believe the books of the Bible are too long, the language too difficult to understand, and those names--some of them are simply unpronounceable. But as we have seen, most books are not as long as people think. And the language used in the Bible can be quite user-friendly, especially if you read from your favorite translation or a new translation in which the language is more contemporary. And as for the names of people and places? Well, give it your best shot. If you stumble over them you have joined the majority of people who also have stumbled over them. (30)
In other words, the biggest challenge may just be you. You thinking that you can't do it, that it can't be done, that it's too impossible. But you can do it.

Chapter four is the LONGEST chapter! Kroll devotes one or two pages to each book of the Bible. These can be used as a resource when you're reading the Bible. Here is an idea of what each introduction covers:

The Book of Christ the Son of God
Author: John
Audience: Christians and non-Christians of the first century
Date: A.D. 85-95

Subject: the life, teachings, death, resurrection, and post resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ
Scope: the events recorded in John's gospel cover from eternity past to the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus Christ in Galilee
Setting: the Holy Land--the Jordan Valley, Galilee, Samaria, Bethany, and Jerusalem

Three keys:
Key chapters: 3 (Jesus, only-begotten of the Father, Savior of the world); 10 (the believer's relationship with Jesus Christ); 15 (abiding in Christ); 19 (the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ)
Key verses: John 1:1-3, 11-12, 29; John 3:14-18, 36; John 5:24, John 6:66-69; John 8:32, 36; John 14:1-6; John 17:17; John 18:38; John 19:16-21, 30, 38-42; John 20:13-16, 30-31; John 21:15-17
Key people: Jesus, John the Baptist, the disciples, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Jesus' mother, Peter, Mary Magdalene, Joseph of Arimathea

Book profiles:
Number of chapters: 21
Number of verses: 879
Average reading time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

What to look for:
  • Jesus Christ as the Son of God (John 19:7)
  • John's careful presentation of the facts so as to bring his readers to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of the world
  • word pictures of who Jesus is, such as water, lamb, bread, light, shepherd, and vine
Why you should read John:
Nowhere is the gospel more clearly presented than in the Gospel of John. If you are looking for a way to share the gospel story with a friend. John has some classic passages that God's servants have used for generations, such as chapter three, five, and ten. Become familiar with these passages and you will never be a witless witness. (81-82)
I think these short introductions are great! I have really been loving reading text-only Bibles this year, but I have missed having short book introductions. This little book may come in very handy for me!!!

The book has SEVEN appendices. Appendix A provides short biographical paragraphs on all the authors of the books of the Bible. Appendix B is a detailed listing of every book in the Old Testament and New Testament. It includes how many chapters each book has and how many verses a book has. Appendix C lists the average reading time for every book in the Bible. The list goes from longest (Psalms and Jeremiah) to shortest (Jude, Malachi). The 'average reading time' listed in this appendix differs from that shared in each book profile. The times have been rounded up, I believe. (For example, Obadiah's time is listed as four minutes in the book profile on page 69, and as 1/4 of an hour in the appendix.) Still, the list does show you--at a glance--which books will take the most of your time. Appendices D-G are reading plans.

Appendix D A plan to read your Bible one book a time by reading Sundays only. If you prefer to read on Saturdays only (or any other day of the week), you could do that instead. By following this five-star plan you will complete your reading in one year of Sundays. Be sure to record the date on which you read each book.

First month
First Sunday -- Genesis -- 3 1/4 hours
Second Sunday -- Romans -- 1 hour
Third Sunday -- Exodus -- 2 1/2 hours
Fourth Sunday -- 1 Samuel -- 2 1/2 hours
Appendix E A plan to read your Bible one book at a time by reading just two days a week and one weekend day. You will complete your reading in six months with this five-star plan. Be sure to record the date on which you read each book.

First Month:
First Monday -- Ruth -- 1/4 hour
First Friday -- Zechariah -- 1/2 hour
First Sunday -- Psalms -- 3 3/4 hours
Second Tuesday -- Philippians -- 1/4 hour
Second Saturday -- 1 Kings -- 1 1/4 hours
Third Monday -- Song of Solomon -- 1/4 hour
Third Friday -- Romans -- 1 hour
Third Sunday -- Revelation -- 1 1/4 hours
Fourth Tuesday -- Colossians -- 1/4 hour
Fourth Thursday -- Ephesians -- 1/2 hour
Fourth Saturday -- Jeremiah -- 3 3/4 hours
Appendix F If you're looking for a real challenge and you want to read the Bible as expediently as possible in order to understand the complete message of the Book, this reading plan is for you. Be sure to record the date on which you read the books.

Appendix G Read in thirty-minute blocks of time over adjacent weekends to read your Bible one book at a time. For those who cannot read for more than half an hour at a time, or cannot read a book all the way through in one sitting, this is the next-best plan to maintain continuity and context. Plus, it allows you to read the Bible in order and only involves weekends. Start any weekend you like. Be sure to record the date on which you read each book. 
I am excited about this book! I am! While I've never tried reading the longer books--the longer Old Testament books--in one sitting, I do try to do that with the New Testament when possible. I've done this with most of the gospels and the book of Revelation, for example. And I think it does make a difference!

What do you think? Is this something you'd ever contemplate doing yourself? Why or why not?!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible


twiga92 said...

This does sound like a great idea! Currently hubby and I are doing a weekly genre plan where each day of the week we read a different genre. Plan goes through 52 weeks of the year. This might be a great plan to do next!

Becky said...

That genre-plan interests me, if I were to follow a plan, I think I'd want it to be one that mixes it up and allows you to read in a variety of genres. (I just have a hard time reading Genesis to Revelation, cover-to-cover.)

twiga92 said...

Yeah, I'm liking it so far. Every Sunday is the Gospels (so in Matthew right now), then Monday is Genesis (I think it's history), Tuesday is something else, Fridays are prophecy, so it really mixes it up and breaks up the monotony of some of the books.

Tasha said...

This is a very nice review on the book. Are you still using this method? If so, how has it been going for you?