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Completed: Old Testament (and Entering the New)

Bible

Originally, I had only planned to post on my current read-through of the Bible twice: at the half-way point and after completing the entire thing. But then I realized it made much more sense to also post after completing the Old Testament. (And also allows me to add one more title to my 2012 reads list!)

There’s a certain sense of relief at finally completing the Old Testament. At times it felt like a slog, especially through some of the prophets, who occasionally seemed rather redundant—”Hey! You are terrible sinners! You’re gonna be published punished!”* And repeat—but other parts sped by and overall I have much the same feeling of exhilaration at knowing I just finished something really good that I had after reading The Silmarillion this summer. Oddly, too, I almost feel let down starting the New Testament: I’m starting with the Gospels which by comparison seem so easy (reading, not message)—I’m used to hard work! I find myself already plotting out the next read-through.

When I posted at the half-way mark, I listed the books I’d already read, so here’s the list of the remainder of the Old Testament, in the approximate order I read them (some were mixed in among each other).

  • 2 Kings
  • 2 Chronicles
  • Jonah
  • Isaiah
  • Amos
  • Micah
  • Hosea
  • Nahum
  • Zephaniah
  • Jeremiah
  • Habakkuk
  • Lamentations
  • Ezekiel
  • Joel
  • Daniel
  • Ezra
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Esther
  • Nehemiah
  • Malachi
  • Psalms (scattered throughout)

As I mentioned previously, I’m using THIS (pdf) reading order which is roughly chronological by event. I REALLY, REALLY like this method. My original intent had been simply to break up Psalms rather than having to read them through all in a bunch, but the placing of all the books in context has really been helpful to me, especially with all the prophets. If I understand it correctly, the prophets can be categorized as pre-exhilic, exhilic, and post-exhilic, and reading them in order—and in context of the surrounding history as narrated in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah—really makes it easier both to follow their words and understand their aims. That said, the prophets are still probably the books I have the most difficulty understanding, especially when they get into the Messianic and Kingdom prophecies. Also, except for Jonah, Daniel, and selections of Isaiah, I’m least familiar with the prophets out of all the books of the Bible. One part of the prophets that was easy to follow: the history they narrate. I knew there was some of this in Daniel, but didn’t realize there was so much history scattered throughout some of the others as well.

Actually, this touches upon a difficulty with the Bible—there’s just so much there, it’s not possible to take it in all at once. I remember best those parts I already knew or recognized: the stories from Sunday school, the texts often read in church (Isaiah reminds me of Advent), the lines that have been turned into hymns. I can’t remember where it is now, but I remember thinking to myself one day that I’d just found the text for “How Great Thou Art.” (My biggest difficulty in remember things from the Bible is remembering where they are in the Bible.) But some of the stories I forget, the names bleed together, the timeline is blurry. I had to write out a timeline of the Kings of Judah and Israel after Solomon just so I could keep track.

Every reading, every visit reinforced previous readings, though, and I’m already reaping the benefits of rereading the Old Testament as I enter the New. When I read it last spring, I found Leviticus terribly boring and repetitive, and have considered that perhaps I might skip it on future reads, but then I read Luke 2:22-24, and I recognize the requirements for purification and offerings that were laid out in Leviticus. Even though the New Testament is much more familiar to me (much of the Old Testament I’ve only read twice, but I’ve read most of the New quite a few times), I have a feeling that the reacquaintance I made with the Old will inform my reading of the New even more.

*Thanks, Caro for catching that.

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3 thoughts on “Completed: Old Testament (and Entering the New)

  1. A massive pat on the back for finishing the Old Testament. It’s such a great accomplishment, and I’m astonished at the fact that you’ve actually read it already. I’m planning to read it this year, and to say that I’m intimidated by it would be a huge understatement (thanks for the link to that pdf, by the way!)
    One little thing you might want to look into, I’m fairly certain that sinning leads to punishment, not publishment. 😉
    Happy New Year!

    1. Thanks, Caro! If I recall correctly, the first time I read the entire Bible straight through, it took me about two years. It’s actually doable in one year just by reading about four pages a day (which doesn’t sound so scary when it’s put that way). In case I haven’t said it enough, though, I really like the chronological method, so I hope that’s helpful to you. One note, I don’t know which version of the Bible you’re reading from, but the pdf link only includes the 66 books included in the Protestant Bible. (I haven’t ever actually seen a list for reading the Bible that includes the Deuterocanonical books, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one out there.) As far as intimidation, some of the books are actually pretty easy (unless you happen to use a difficult translation) as they read like stories. Also, I think it’s helpful to know that no one gets it all on the first go (or second, or third….)–so you (I) don’t have to worry when there’s something I (you) don’t understand. If you need any encouragement, just let me know!

      Hmmm…yes….punishment, not publishment…correcting, thank you! (Although, the prophets managed to get their words published! 😉 )

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