On Reading Larger Portions of the Bible

"On the one hand, reading large portions of Scripture seems quite logical. On the other, you will find a large number of Christians who have never done it. Why is there a gap here? The question has a complex answer, but I think one reason concerns Bible typography." - DBTS Blog

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Bert Perry's picture

It's worth noting that what is being said is that when something is effectively in outline form, then one is primed not to read large portions of the document, or to view one portion of the document in light of others.

As tax season is starting, maybe I should try that approach with the IRS, which famously uses very similar typography, and when I did some military contracting work, maybe I should have tried that approach with source and first article inspectors.  

Obviously, no, I should not have.  Now maybe I'm an extreme outlier in terms of how I process documents--I've read more documents in outline form than I can remember--but I'd suggest other factors might be bigger, like "not enough patience to read for various reasons" and "churches are not modeling the reading of longer passages of Scripture to members".  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

No, he's right. First, he identifies the typography as just "one reason." Second, along with all the other factors, it's pretty evident that we tend to interact with the Bible most of the time using the "verse" as the basic unit. If you read with the text broken up similarly, there is going to be a tendency to "think in verses" also.

...and the content is nothing at all like tax forms/instructions or lists of specs, or business-environment problem statements, RFPs, quality standards, etc.

John E.'s picture

While not evidence in and of itself, I've found that using a reader's Bible increases the amount of chapters I read at one time.

That being said, my experience tells me that the reason why many do not read large portions of the Bible is because their preferred Bible study method pushes against it. For all its value, the inductive Bible study method (of which there are several, and not all created equal) tends to promote a "can't see the forest for the trees" approach. In fact, some people can't even see the tree for the bark in their Bible study. Frequently, when I encourage people to read large portions without stopping to pick up a concordance, I meet resistance because the concept of "read" is shouted down by their devotion to a type of "study" - "But, John, that's not how the Bible is supposed to be studied." 

The Bible is a book, not a frog in a pond to be studied. We should interact with it accordingly. 

Kevin Miller's picture

John E. wrote:

The Bible is a book, not a frog in a pond to be studied. We should interact with it accordingly. 

But it is a book to be meditated upon, and we are to hide God's word in our hearts. I personally think memorization should be promoted more in schools. The verse divisions make for easy memorization breaks, but we should be memorizing the paragraphs rather than just verses, and kids aren't often taught the ability to memorize large portions of something.

John E.'s picture

I didn't say not to meditate on it nor to memorize it. I said it's a book not a frog, and the approach to studying books is different than a scientist sitting in a pond studying a frog. First and foremost, we should read the book (the whole book) and inundate ourselves with the whole context. Scientists sitting in a pond start with the frog. 

Kevin Miller's picture

John E. wrote:

I didn't say not to meditate on it nor to memorize it. I said it's a book not a frog, and the approach to studying books is different than a scientist sitting in a pond studying a frog. First and foremost, we should read the book (the whole book) and inundate ourselves with the whole context. Scientists sitting in a pond start with the frog. 

I didn't mean to make you think I was doing anything other than adding more specifics to what you had already said. Reading it over, I see how how starting it with "But" wasn't the right way to start it. My main point was that the typography makes it easier to stop your memorization with short chunks rather than memorizing the full thoughts, but if people haven't practiced memorization when young, it is hard to do long chunks when older.

John E.'s picture

No worries. People not reading large portions of the Bible is a "trigger" for me. I deal with this on an almost constant basis and, frankly, am struggling with sinful frustration over it. I simply do not understand why so many (at least around me) are so resistant to the notion that they should read large portions, at least from time to time. 

Jeff Howell's picture

So, in our discipleship small group settings, we encourage large portion reading for saturation and exposure, then coming back to notice the smaller specific type of things that get one's attention through the repeated readings. I have also found myself reminding the folks to whom I minister to remember that the chapter and verse divisions are not inspired, so be careful to keep reading. It will be a constant issue as long as we use individual verse formatted bibles.

 

Ron Bean's picture

In my goal of reading through the Bible this year I've added listening, undistracted,  to entire books at one time. A few weeks ago I listened to Job in a couple of different versions including a dramatized NKJV. I came away with a much improved understanding. I was also reminded that when Paul's letter to the church at Philippi arrived, the elders didn't read and discuss a small section every Sunday. (SMILE)

I'm also studying smaller passages as well.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

TylerR's picture

Editor

I've never deliberately memorized any passages of Scripture. 

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

G. N. Barkman's picture

Tyler, I won't tell if you won't.   (Seriously, you are missing one of the great tools for Biblical impact.)

G. N. Barkman

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

It's been a while since since I memorized a passage, but without all the memorization I've done since early childhood, I feel like I'd be living minus an arm, a leg, and an eye.

Bert Perry's picture

TylerR wrote:

I've never deliberately memorized any passages of Scripture. 

Start with John 11:35.  I was told by the tour guide at the MLK Jr. boyhood home that it was his favorite one to recite--the family rule was that before you tucked into Sunday dinner, you had to recite a Bible verse.  No kidding.

Seriously, though I confess I often don't have the time to do it, either, it's a huge blessing when I do.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ron Bean's picture

I've found that the older I get the harder it is for me to memorize-----and to remember where I put my reading glasses and car keys.

Thankfully, when I was younger, Bible memorization was  an integral part of my upbringing that is still with me. When i was a child the "entrance exam" for enrolling in SS were memorizing the Romans Road, the books of the Bible, the 12 disciples, the 12 tribes of Israel, and to be able to draw a free hand map of Palestine with the key cities. 60+ years later and I haven't forgotten. 

I was blessed recently to hear my pastor's children reciting Isaiah 53 from memory. 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

josh p's picture

This year I am trying to read/listen to one book of the Bible per day. I’m a little behind but I should catch up in the minor prophets. It’s been awesome.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I do have passages memorized, but I never set out to do it. I didn't come to faith until I was 18, so I missed out on many opportunities to memorize Scripture when I was younger.  

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

G. N. Barkman's picture

Tyler, you are an unusual person to be able to memorize Scripture without trying!

G. N. Barkman

TylerR's picture

Editor

I'm probably giving myself too much credit. Much of what I have is a rather free paraphrase, coupled with a chapter (not a verse). Sometimes, I know the verse. This is more general familiarity than memorization. 

To the point of the article, I read the Bible in large chunks. 

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

G. N. Barkman's picture

I used to memorize lots of Scripture.  I'm so glad I did!  I'm glad I was encouraged to do so during my youth, and in many cases, required to do so, as I attended Christian schools.

Two changes have curtailed my former patterns.  First, all my memorization was from the KJV.  With the advent of modern versions, memorization became more difficult.  Not impossible, but harder, especially since I have a memory bank of literally hundreds of verses from the KJV.  Its harder to memorize when you are both un-memorizing, and re-memorizing.  Second, I'm a lot older.  I don't memorize as easily as I used to.  That's why I'm so thankful for the hundreds of individual verses and passages memorized in my youth.

G. N. Barkman

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Two changes have curtailed my former patterns.  First, all my memorization was from the KJV.  With the advent of modern versions, memorization became more difficult.  Not impossible, but harder, especially since I have a memory bank of literally hundreds of verses from the KJV.  Its harder to memorize when you are both un-memorizing, and re-memorizing.  

I feel your pain.  All my memorization was in the KJV as well.  Now I find it hard to read aloud in a newer version passages that I memorized in the KJV.  Our church responsive readings are in the ESV, and I often find them difficult if the passage is familiar.  I still use the KJV in the pew even though the pulpit version is ESV, and if I were to do any more memorizing, I would still do it in the KJV just for ease and consistency.

Dave Barnhart