Yesterday I completed my 95 by 65 Goal #57: Finish chronological Bible reading plan. Ever since I read a review copy of The Chronological Guide to the Bible (five years ago), I've wanted to read the Bible through in the approximate order of the events. There isn't complete agreement among scholars on the details of the order, but "approximate" is good enough for me. I've made various stabs at the project over the years, and even put the information from the Guide onto a bookmark—actually a set of bookmarks—to help me jump from place to place in my Bible correctly. It shouldn't have been that hard, but flipping back and forth and keeping track of where I was and where I was going next was just enough of a pain that my efforts kept petering out. Pitiful, I know, but the point of this post is not to talk about my failures, but my success at last.
What turned the tide was the YouVersion Bible app on my phone. They have a gazillion reading plans, most of which are not interesting to me, but one of them is set up to lead the reader through the entire Bible, chronologically, in one year. I owe a lot of thanks to our friend Christina S., who first introduced me to YouVersion, because I found this plan to be great!
The plan does all the work—except, of course, for the reading itself. Every day they send a notification to your phone: click on the notification and it takes you right to the plan. Click on the next day's reading and boom, there you are, at the right place in the Bible of your choice (they have lots to choose from). The end of one reading takes you directly to the next, until you've completed all the chapters for that day. You get a nice little congratulatory note, then close the app. Repeat every day for a year. Or, if you fall behind at any point, there's a catch-up function that shifts the plan dates for you. I took advantage of that once, in the beginning, but once I got the habit established, I found it easy to keep up. Really, the app makes it simple—easy enough that even in especially busy times I managed to squeeze the reading in. Because, as I said, it was right there, waiting for me. The folks at YouVersion, though I doubt they've ever heard of Glenn Doman, remind me of his saying that one of the secrets of the success of his educational and therapeutic programs is, "we arrange for the child to win." The YouVersion app arranged for me to win, and I did.
I loved the chronological path through the Bible, especially seeing how various events fit together, and reading one after the other the passages that are parallel but not identical. I came through the process with a much stronger feeling of the integrity of the Bible as the record of real people living their lives in the context of real history and culture, and of God revealed: gradually and progressively, though still imperfectly, through that record. Perhaps the feeling was stronger because of the contrast I experienced while reading through the Qur'an at the same time.
The chronological plan was so enjoyable that I'm sure I'll do it again, but at the moment I feel it's better to mix things up a bit. I'm sticking with the YouVersion app and their plans, however. Today I started a 30-day reading of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), one that covers every word but weaves together the events from the different books. As I said, I'm not interested in most of the YouVersion plans—many of them are "devotional," with more to read than just the Bible. Scholarly commentary I would be interested in, but just some random person's thoughts? Not so much. Yet there are still some plans with straight Scripture to try out, and the chronological plan to return to. I'm thrilled that the YouVersion people have arranged for this child to win.