Monday, May 14, 2018

What's in that Bible, Exactly?

I toyed with the idea, earlier this year, of joining Adam's 2018 Reading Bible as Literature event, but I just couldn't commit to anything involving structure. There was much humming and hawing on Twitter, as often happens to us readers when challenges and events are involved.

Fast forward to April, and amidst a lot of Not Reading, I had this urge to dive into the Bible. The reasons are several-fold:

  • I identify as a Christian, raised in the Baptist church (not so much now, Baptists, #sorrynotsorry).
  •  I have not read the whole Bible. If I start from the beginning, I usually crap right on out around Deuteronomy. I got the usual "Bible in chewable bits and pieces" treatment as a church attendee and in a college New Testament class (that made me question ALL THE THINGS). Then I lost my faith for a few years after my dad died at the age of 39 (I was 18), etc. etc. 
  • The majority of my life has been spent feeling really stupid when it comes to Bible things.
  • I'm consistently baffled by evangelical zeal for President 45 and the ways in which Scripture and That Particular Zeal do not line up in my head at all. 
  • I'm a Christian and wanna be a good one.
SO, this undertaking is filed in my brain under, "I Must Understand For Myself All the Things". 

Breaking from past attempts, I decided to start in the New Testament because Jesus and grace and whatnot. Picture it, I started this Bible journey with my 30-year-old children's Bible (it's pink), and while it got me going, it also became fairly clear from the beginning that I wanted something....grown.

Yes, that is an "I'm Reading so Fuck Off" mug next to my Bible. I'm still me. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably started to see this whole scenario in action. This was Saturday's first pic of the day: brunch, coffee, BIG STACK OF BOOKS. 

The giant chunk on the bottom is my new She Reads Truth Bible that I really like in the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation which is supposedly accurate and readable. On top of that is my Scripture notebook (more on this below), my bullet journal, and my prayer notebook.

As I started reading through the New Testament, about five chapters into Matthew, I realized I have a LOT OF QUESTIONS. I have grown-up, analytical, historical questions like who the hell are these Pharisees and Sadducees on the scene? But more than "bad guys"...WHO ARE THEY REALLY? 

There has been much Googling, much researching, much downloading of apps, reading of commentaries from a variety of scholars and time periods, and...gird yourselves...I'm copying it. 

I'm copying the New Testament word-for-word. 

I know. I never would've pegged myself for this job, but copying:

1. Helps me remember all the stuff I inevitably forget otherwise
2. Sloooowwwwws me down
3. Gives me a space to copy the Scripture, write my understanding, work out my questions and connections, write notes from histories and commentaries, and then keep right on going. 

It's a lot of work, but this is scratching my-totally-ingrained-need-to-research itch along with my need to read. AND there's the added bonus of giving me these endorphin feelings much like I had when I started my English degree and was SO PROUD to understand things I thought I'd never understand. 

And it's meditative. And I look forward to it, and I'm sad when I don't have time. 

If you've been wondering where I am...this is where. I'm neck-deep in the Bible. 














21 comments:

  1. I truly LOVE this and may adopt the practice myself. I have a similar history as far as religiosity goes... and three years ago I decided to read through the New Teastsment in order to check out a hypotheses: God is love. Period. And if I came across something that seemed counter to that statement, I just skipped it in favor of returning some other time. It helped me immensely ��

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    1. YES! Part of what got me into the commentaries is when something strikes my contemporary brain as vindictive. Christ was not vindictive. I go in there and see what I'm missing. Usually it's some historical context or a connection to the Old Testament.

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  2. This is an INCREDIBLE undertaking. What kind of pace are you going at? Just wondering how long everything takes, or has taken so far.

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    1. Since you mentioned this, today was the first time I've kept up with how much progress I make in a normal day. I can usually carve out an hour or two. Today is a teaching night, so I have two hours of free office hours. I managed to copy and commentate on two pages of Bible text with nine pages of written text in an A5 notebook. Sooo yeah, it's gonna take forever. I've been at it for about three or four weeks, and I'm on chapter 16 of 28 in Matthew. Though, some days when I'm not feeling the copying (eyes, shoulders hurt) I may read through the Bible on its own, or read through mostly commentary. By the time I'm done I will have probably read the Book of Matthew four times or better.

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  3. What a great project, Andi. If I could get myself organized enough I'd love to do something like this!

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    1. Thanks, Stacy! It's been very fulfilling so far. I didn't set out thinking I would copy it, but because I was having so many questions and feeling the urge to write SOOO many notes, it just became a thing. lol

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  4. Oh, I LOVE this idea! I am always thinking of plans to do where I will re-familiarize myself with the Bible, and then I am always, um, not doing those plans. But this sounds like a perfect way to do it -- I love the idea of copying as meditation, and since I am a Catholic and a nerd, I extra-love the idea of feeling a connection to the many many MANY people in my faith who copied out the Bible before me.

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    1. LOL at "not doing those plans." Same! You put it so well "connection to many many MANY people in my faith who have copied out the Bible before me." YES YES YES. It's humbling, for sure.

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  5. LOVE this. I'm reading the Archaeological version because I also want to know the things. :) https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24105.NIV_Archaeological_Study_Bible

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    1. And I am going to check out that Bible RIGHT NOW because I need a study Bible, too, obviously.

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  6. I see we had the same response to Adam's challenge, haha. I actually read (listened to) the entire New Testament last year (except for Revelation). I want to listen to the Old Testament as well, but it's not so much the structure as the need to read mostly fun books and the OT is...not that fun.

    When you're finished, if you want to read my thoughts on the NT, you can see them here: https://theenglishist2.wordpress.com/tag/bible/. Spoiler alert: I love Jesus, but Paul is the worst.

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts about more of the process and your reactions (if you choose to share). I love this, and I love that you're doing it.

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    1. The OT is so not fun. SO. NOT. FUN. I definitely want to read your thoughts, and I LOLed at Paul being the worst. heheheh I will definitely share more!

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  7. I've really made a conscious effort of studying the Bible this past year and I am making good progress but I realize, for me, it takes several different formats, translations and publishers for me to get the full meaning of a piece of scripture. I also learned that relational reading works best for me not from page 1 to the end. I just keep track of what books I've read and I've probably read and studies about half now between old and new.

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    1. Go Ti! Go Ti! There is soooo much to get in Scripture. I feel like I could keep digging forever, but I cut myself off and move on. I'm sure I'll go through it again sometime, many times.

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  8. What I great exercise! And, great insight into finding something to help you SLOW DOWN - that has got to be my biggest problem with things I want to study in general -- I think I want to "have studied" as opposed to "study." But, I love this idea and look forward to hearing more as you feel inclined to share along the way.

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    1. Yep, patience has not been my strong suit, so that feeling of want to "have studied" is a big one for me. Right now I'm trying to relish the feel of doing the work to "get it." At least on some level. I will definitely share more!

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  9. This sounds like a fantastic idea, Andi. I usually have one of those devotional type books going where you read a thing and then read some verses, but I inevitably fall behind. I hope you will share some of the things you learn as you go through the NT this way!

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    1. Thanks, Lindsey! I started with a devotional last year (Jesus Calling), and I just didn't feel like I was getting enough...content, context, you name it. I'd love to share what I figure out along the way!

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  10. Hey Andi! I love this idea of copying scripture and digging in to gain from it.

    I am participating in Adam's Bible reading but I am only reading, where he is reading and consulting commentaries and such. I have been reading the Bible for years and I'm always learning something new.I actually like the old testament, especially in termes of the history and character sketches. Some of the lists and geneologies are dry but I think they are important anyway, if for no other reason than to display the incredible record keeping of the people of God.

    My encouragement to you is to remember that some Biblical scholars spend their whole lives studying scripture,
    and I've yet to hear of any who understand all of it. But it is a noble pursuit and I believe anyone who works at it gains from it.
    I'm looking forward to your posts!

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    1. Oh yes, Darlene. I think I appreciate the scholars and historians who readily write, "It could be this, or this, or maybe we just don't know," more than any others. I'm enjoying the undertaking SO much so far, and I'm looking forward to getting more out of it every time through. I'm also doing some daily devotional type readings so I'm dipping in and out of other books all the time. <3

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  11. I am currently writing out Philippians which is the sermon series at church. I will write Colossians next. And I love your Sojourner folio. I am a big fan of those notebooks.

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