After forty plus years of reading the Bible, I have come up with one of my favorite ways, if not the favorite way, to read the Bible.
I call it “reading the Bible fast and slow.”
I will read up to ten chapters at a pace of 1-4 minutes per chapter. If I am familiar with the section I’m reading, I go on the faster end of that range of time or about one minute per chapter. But even books of the Bible I don’t know as well are given no more than about four minutes. My recommendation for anyone with a decent familiarity of the main plot line in Scripture is to go no slower than five minutes per chapter.
Along the way I am looking for small sections that puzzle me, encourage me, or that I simply want to mull over for a bit. This is the slow part. I may memorize some of these verses, but at the very least I will chew on them for a few days, but usually no more than one week. For my fast reads of these ten chapters there will typically be no more than a half dozen things I want to consider more fully.
I am also a big notetaker, and yes, that includes writing and highlighting my Bible. Colored pencils only for highlighting not those ghastly yellow felt tips that bleed through the page! For those of you who still have resistance to writing in your Bible, let me encourage you with a reason to do so that may not have crossed your mind: you can leave a wonderful legacy to your children, spouse, or closest friends. We have two grown sons who mercifully walk with God. Both my wife and I have two study Bibles that contain the exact same notes. Each one of our sons will be able to better understand our pilgrimage as Christians by reading the notes in our Bibles.
This year I plan to read through the Bible three times. For most of my Christian life, I’ve both studied and memorized in the New American Standard Bible. I will continue to memorize in the NASB, but this year I am doing something different with my Bible reading. I plan to read three different versions of the Bible for my three fast reads through the Bible: The King James Version, The New Living Bible, and either the English Standard Version or the New Revised Version.
My first read through the Bible is in the KJV and it has already yielded new thoughts about Genesis. For example, the NASB has Genesis 6:5 this way: “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The KJV translates it this way: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Imagination conjures up a bit different image (no pun intended) for me. I think of sinful creativity going wild. You may disagree, but I find intent a bit weaker.
I commend this “reading fast and slow” approach to you. I’m not aware of anything quite like it. It offers both growing familiarity with the full sweep of Scripture along with the joys of chewing on what strikes you the most. It’s a biblical telescope and microscope.
I would love to hear what kind of approaches you have found most helpful.