Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Years ago, in my early twenties, one of my friends told me that reading one of the gospels straight-through in a single sitting had blown his mind.

Over a decade later, and on the other side of the world, on 13th January 2006, I finally got around to trying it out.

However the knock-on effect of that was a sense of incompleteness. As well as feeling a sense of accomplishment at having read the whole of John's gospel in a single sitting, it also made me feel like the other 65 Biblical books were now all still outstanding.

Well, as of today, that list is no more. I've finished it. I've now read all 66 of them straight-through in their own individual sittings.

Despite the oddness of the ambition, I've tried to avoid being too silly about it. I haven't taken the definition of "one sitting" to extremes. I've allowed myself breaks, to eat, go to the toilet, answer the phone and generally remain sane. Initially I tried to make these breaks no longer than 15 minutes, but certainly none of them have exceeded an hour.

Undoubtedly the hardest part of the challenge has been this: I'm just not a reader. Despite all the Doctor Whos I digested in my teens, these days I hardly ever read books, simply because I get tired and bored of them quite quickly. Literally, until I started this, I could count the number of full-length books that I'd read in one go on just one of my hands. In fact, here they all are: On The Lemoncurd Trail by Josie Goble, Quantum Leap: Foreknowledge by Christopher DeFilippis, The Prayer Of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams and The Man In The Rubber Mask by Robert Llewellyn. (and I'm not even that certain about the Quantum Leap one) Maybe there are one or two others I've forgotten, but I doubt it.

So, slow reader that I am, I found that it took me, on average, about an hour to read 10 Biblical chapters.

This is probably the most predictable observation to make, but here goes: It has changed the way I read the Bible.

1. I am going to have trouble returning to reading it in little bits. I now can't understand why anyone might cut it to little pieces like that. Of course, logically I understand, but emotionally it feels a bit like going on a diet.

2. There are over-arcing stories that I've previously failed to appreciate when pondering a particular, much briefer, incident. It is possible to get too close to the detail. For example, the story of David's kingship, when seen from a distance, gives a strong indication of God's long-term teaching and discipline throughout his life, whereas reading just one chapter of it might come across as being just about David's faith in a given situation. In other words, I think one gets to perceive events less from a human being's immediate perspective, but just a little more from God's.

3. Psalms did my head in. Six hours!

I think above all I felt I got a bit of an opportunity to meet many of the Bible's players. In some instances you get to read a person's entire life story, from before conception right up until after their death. People can change over time, like Saul.

I'm not recommending that anyone replace their current reading pattern with this one. But I do recommend that anyone who hasn't tried approaching the scriptures in this way try-out adding it to their program. It didn't 'blow my mind,' but it has certainly offered fresh perspectives onto both familiar and unfamiliar texts.

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2 comment(s):

At 3:44 am, Anonymous Rhett said...

Well done! That's an achievement.

At 9:56 pm, Blogger Steve Goble said...

Thank you Rhett - that's kind of you to say.



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