On Sept. 2, our church committed to going through the Bible in nine months. Our nursery to senior adults studied 31 select passages on Sundays and then read “the rest of the story” from the Bible in daily readings throughout the week. During that time, we gave out more than 2,000 copies of The Story, from nursery edition picture books to preschool, children, youth and adult versions.
That study culminates tomorrow, April 28, and I’ve learned a few things about the Bible that actually was quite surprising, considering that I’ve been in the vocational ministry for more than 20 years.
But before I share a few of my musings, here are a few fast facts that I already did know before going through the study:
The Bible is the all-time best seller, every year since statistics have been kept. While exact numbers are unknown, it has been estimated that 6 billion Bibles have been published.
To read through the Bible in a year, you only have to read 85 verses or about 2,160 words per day, or about 11 minutes a day for the average reader of 200 words a minute. (Hint: if you are going to use the King James version, you might want to plan on a little bit longer! Hint #2: skim over the genealogies!)
Almost all modern translations use a different Greek New Testament than what the translators of the King James Version (and New King James Translation) used; therefore, the modern translations are not just changing the “thee”s and “thou”s. Newer translations use older transcripts of the New Testament to which the translators in 1611 did not have access.
The Bible took 1600 years to write, on three different continents and in three different languages (Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew), with 40 different authors from a variety of different walks of life (from kings to farmers to fishermen to theologians). Yet one theme remained constant throughout the entire 66 books — God’s desire to have a relationship with humanity, and humanity’s repeated failure to do so.
Now, what did I learn. That’s a hard thing because I probably knew what I “learned” again, but that is why the Bible is an amazing book. You can read a passage repeatedly and get something new almost every time you read it. It has been said that it is like the ocean, shallow enough that a child can enjoy, but deep enough that no one could ever fathom its depths.
But here’s some new insights:
While Mark’s Gospel is the shortest, it has more details on the incidents that he reports, and especially on Jesus’ last week, Mark has likely the best chronology.
The Old Testament is really, really long. OK, I already knew that, but still, it took us all the way from September to the end of February for the Old Testament, and then just March and April for the New Testament. And we spent a little more time on the New Testament.
The part of the Bible most people stumble over (the part after David kills Goliath and Solomon builds the Temple) really has some interesting stories.
The kings of Israel who come after Solomon’s son causes a civil war and a division with the kings of Judah are the ones who are listed in Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew.
We think our society has gone downhill because people fly planes into buildings or blow up bombs during a marathon. People have always been wicked, but they were incredibly evil in the past.
Finally, God loves us to put up with all that He has put up with in the past. OK, I knew that too, but reading through the Bible almost makes me want to have a Sally-Field-at-the-Oscars moment, “You love me, You really love me!”
Tim McKeown is the Education Minister at First Baptist Church of Killeen.