Thursday, May 24, 2012

Getting Ready: Tips and Tools for Reading the New Testament

So, what do you need as you are getting ready to start reading the New Testament?  What resources could be helpful to you?

Okay, I'll admit that this is sort of a "trick question."

All you really need is:

1.  A New Testament.
2.  A list of readings.

That's it.  You don't really need anything else. 

Of course, you will need to decide which translation of the New Testament you will read.  Will you read the same translation that you are already pretty familiar with?  (New Revised Standard Version, Contemporary English Version, New International Version)  Will you try a less familiar version of the Bible (Like Eugene Peterson's The Message, or the New Jerusalem Bible)?  Will you use a study Bible (Like the Lutheran Study Bible) or one simply with text?  There are virtues either way.

A couple of caveats, though:  If you do use a study Bible, try not to get bogged down in the notes all the time.  Try reading the Bible as if it were a novel, rather than a textbook:  read to find out "what happens next?  and then?  and then?" rather than as if you were studying for a test.  Read and notice the characters and the plot and little details.  If you have a hard time figuring out what's going on, then go back and read some notes, if you'd like.

Also, here's something I discovered when I tried to read the whole Bible in 90 days last summer:  it might be good to keep a journal.  I did manage to read the whole Bible in 90 days, and some of the details (especially in Old Testament stories) were intriguing to me, but it was easy for me to forget my insights and questions, because I was reading so quickly.  I wish I had taken a few notes.  But if you do keep a journal, my bias would be to make it a reflective journal rather than a "facts from the Bible" journal.  Notice something you don't remember reading before, something you have a question about, what a particular passage of scripture does to you.

As for me, my journal will probably be right here on this blog, though I might get a paper one, too.  And I may go back and forth and use more than one version of the Bible.  But I wouldn't recommend that for everyone.

There are probably a few good resources you can use to supplement your reading.  I'll post a suggestion or two in the next couple of days.  But, don't get bogged down in that.

All you really need is:
1.  The New Testament of your choice
2.  The list of daily readings
3.  A journal (optional) and pen (optional)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

An Invitation

When I was in high school, I once determiined to begin to read the Whole Bible, starting from Genesis 1.  I made it half-way through Numbers before I gave up, at least that time.

When I think back, I believe the project failed, at least in part, because I was reading alone.  If I had had others with whom to share insights and questions, I might have kept going.

This summer, I invite you to read along with me:  not the whole Bible, but the New Testament, in 90 Days.  There will be a list of Daily Readings, both online and that you can pick up at church.  Sign up and tell me if you will be doing the daily readings, so I can get an idea about who is a part of our project.

I'll provide occasional background information, updates and and my own reflections on this blog, which will be linked to our church website and facebook page.  You can follow along, leave comments and questions on facebook, or just check in as you read.

Use any version of the Bible that you like:  try a translation you are not as familiar with (Like Eugene Peterson's "The Messsage") or use your old standby, or the translation we use here on Sunday mornings, The New Revised Standard version.

However you participate, join us!  Read, or re-read, the New Testament along with me this summer, Hear the Good News as we navigate through the gospels, the book of Acts, and all the different kinds of letters to churches that make up this amazing book.