Friday, April 03, 2009

Adventures in bible reading...

I remember when I first became a Christian, I had a strong desire to read through the entire Bible. I just felt like that was something you should do. When non-Christians ask you whether you've read 'the whole book', you should be able to say, 'Yes', because you believe the book to be worth reading! So, I carved it up by genre into 7 types of literature, and read about 10 chapters a morning and 11 at night, till I was done.

Of course, times change, early zeal matures. There have been some really poor times of not-reading-scripture, and other times of real enthusiasm, since that first expedition many years ago.

This year I made a firm commitment to take up a bible-reading program. I started in December, to avoid any NY resolution-doomed-to-failure problems. It also helped to pick up the new ESV Study Bible, and now I'm locked into a bible-in-a-year schedule, which is about 4 chapters a day, and doubles through Psalms, Proverbs, Luke, and Isaiah.

I also made the commitment that I would read NT readings in Greek. That adds considerable time, but worthwhile time. It's now April, and I'm approaching the end of 1 Corinthians. Acts was a struggle. Luke, I confess, I skipped some Greek passages and read in English, partly because I was away on holidays and poorly organised, and I knew I would get a second shot. Jude came up in December, which I'm kind of not counting (I like Jan-Dec as a time-frame), and I found it too difficult to read fluently. Next time around I'll set Jude some time for proper working through.

My other discipline is to read a bit of commentary on the NT passage. Since I purchased the Baker series on Logos, that's been my helpful companion through the last couple of books. Sometimes I skim, sometimes I read in more depth (1 Cor 11 for instance).

I'm also trying to memorise verses in Greek this year. That is not too difficult in itself, it's the memorisation, not the Greek, that trips me up.

Those are my adventures. What are yours?


cafedave said...

Kel and I are reading through 2 corinthians at the moment, a chapter a night, having finished 1 cor at a similar pace.

My Greek is still too poor to try reading in bulk. At college, we're doing Luke 19-24 this semester, and it's a real slog: vocab is tough, but mostly I feel like I'm not getting any more fluent. I try to translate as I go with the Greek printed out and double-spaced, and just leave the missing vocab marked as blank underlines where the word fits in the English.

Should I give up and use accordance or something? I'd like to be able to just read from a book, not "cheat" with software

Seumas Macdonald said...

I'm more and more convinced that learning to communicate in Greek is worth it, but admittedly that's not how I got to where I am.

Not sure how you approach vocab. I went hard with computer-flashcards, and learnt by frequency to a very low number. But you probably don't need to go as low as I did.

I read from the Zondervan Greek Reader's NT. It's so worth it (and cheaper than the UBS version). You're far better off reading from something link this, with vocab under 30 occurences glossed.

So, advice? Grab a reader's NT, work on vocab, and commit to reading. I'd read Mark, John, and other texts of relatively easy Greek. Have an english version nearby, but not open, and have a look at the end or if you get totally bamboozled.

That's reading though. If you're doing exegsis and analysis, that's definitely the time to whip out Accordance or the like.