The Bible in 72 hours

A church in Superior, Wisconsin is sponsoring a Bible-reading marathon.

SUPERIOR, Wis. – Superior’s Central Assembly of God is ringing in the New Year with a marathon Bible-reading session. Over three days, members will read the entire Bible aloud from the pulpit into a live microphone.

“It’s an incredible thing to think you can read through the whole Bible in 72 hours,” said Rhonda Horyza, church secretary.

The “Take Up the Sword” event is more of a relay than a marathon. Reading is nonstop, 24 hours a day. Members, one at a time, read in one-hour shifts. Some couples split the time equally, sharing passages. The experience encompasses generations, from 20-year-old readers to those in their 80s.

So it only takes 72 hours to read the whole thing! The 17th century Anglican community of Little Gidding would sometimes do Psalms marathons and the like. This would be a good activity for youth groups (they could get people to contribute for each hour they read) and whole congregations (I’ve been in churches that have prayer vigils–why not Bible reading vigils?).

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • EconJeff

    Why do this? Do they actually learn anything from reading through the Bible so quickly? I’m hesitant to think it adds much to contemplative study of the Bible. Maybe it kept religious people occupied in olden days, but I really doubt its value.

  • EconJeff

    Why do this? Do they actually learn anything from reading through the Bible so quickly? I’m hesitant to think it adds much to contemplative study of the Bible. Maybe it kept religious people occupied in olden days, but I really doubt its value.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Better idea than online churches. Perhaps if everyone was examined in regard to its content afterward. You know encourage listening too. Perhaps a “listening marathon”?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Better idea than online churches. Perhaps if everyone was examined in regard to its content afterward. You know encourage listening too. Perhaps a “listening marathon”?

  • Mary Jack

    I’d think even a “quick read” would raise interesting points that people could study at greater depth later. So I think it could be really beneficial for those who have never read some sections of the Bible or who forget about the very real connection between the Old Testament and the New.

  • Mary Jack

    I’d think even a “quick read” would raise interesting points that people could study at greater depth later. So I think it could be really beneficial for those who have never read some sections of the Bible or who forget about the very real connection between the Old Testament and the New.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    I think it would be much more helpful to have a 72 hour prayer session, using the classic orders of prayer, which would involved much reading of Scripture, and singing and praying of it.

    I do not think trying to cram the whole Bible into 72 hours is a good idea.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    I think it would be much more helpful to have a 72 hour prayer session, using the classic orders of prayer, which would involved much reading of Scripture, and singing and praying of it.

    I do not think trying to cram the whole Bible into 72 hours is a good idea.

  • GEZ

    Reminds me of Nehemiah 8 & 2 Kings 22.

  • GEZ

    Reminds me of Nehemiah 8 & 2 Kings 22.

  • DonS

    The Gospel is of great benefit, whatever the motivation or forum for reading it. I think it’s a great idea for folks to understand that it can be read in 72 hours — it is such a daunting project to read through the Bible for many (myself included). It would be a much more profitable use of time for a youth group than most of the other things they typically do.

  • DonS

    The Gospel is of great benefit, whatever the motivation or forum for reading it. I think it’s a great idea for folks to understand that it can be read in 72 hours — it is such a daunting project to read through the Bible for many (myself included). It would be a much more profitable use of time for a youth group than most of the other things they typically do.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I was predicting a lot of responses along the lines of “Why do this?” I guess I’m glad to see less than I was expecting, but it is a Friday.

    And while I admit that there is clearly a gimmick here, and such things could, at some point, become utterly ridiculous, I’m not so sure I’d dismiss this so easily.

    I’m reminded of the time our pastor taught courses on the Old and New Testaments at our church. I forget how many weeks it took us to do the Old, but I do remember that for most of that time, I was cramming in Bible reading like never before, just so I could cover all the material before getting to the question sheet. And while I typically read very slowly, pondering particular words and phrases, at that point I was forced to forego that, given more to powering through. I might have thought this would have led to reduced comprehension, but instead, I gained a greater insight into repetitive themes, noting overarching themes that I never picked up on while examining the details. So I, for one, am willing to consider that reading the Bible as in this story could actually be helpful.

    Too, I also wonder if any of these people had ever spent an entire hour reading the Bible before. Doubtless some of them had, but perhaps some had not. But for them to find out it’s possible — isn’t that a good thing? I remember when in high school my church held a 24-hour prayer vigil. I’m not sure, up to that point, I’d spent an entire hour trying to pray. Similar thing here.

    But yes, why not quiz the readers, as Bryan suggests. Heck, I could stand to be quizzed sometimes after my typically slow-reading Bible study. Taking your time is no guarantee you’re doing it right.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I was predicting a lot of responses along the lines of “Why do this?” I guess I’m glad to see less than I was expecting, but it is a Friday.

    And while I admit that there is clearly a gimmick here, and such things could, at some point, become utterly ridiculous, I’m not so sure I’d dismiss this so easily.

    I’m reminded of the time our pastor taught courses on the Old and New Testaments at our church. I forget how many weeks it took us to do the Old, but I do remember that for most of that time, I was cramming in Bible reading like never before, just so I could cover all the material before getting to the question sheet. And while I typically read very slowly, pondering particular words and phrases, at that point I was forced to forego that, given more to powering through. I might have thought this would have led to reduced comprehension, but instead, I gained a greater insight into repetitive themes, noting overarching themes that I never picked up on while examining the details. So I, for one, am willing to consider that reading the Bible as in this story could actually be helpful.

    Too, I also wonder if any of these people had ever spent an entire hour reading the Bible before. Doubtless some of them had, but perhaps some had not. But for them to find out it’s possible — isn’t that a good thing? I remember when in high school my church held a 24-hour prayer vigil. I’m not sure, up to that point, I’d spent an entire hour trying to pray. Similar thing here.

    But yes, why not quiz the readers, as Bryan suggests. Heck, I could stand to be quizzed sometimes after my typically slow-reading Bible study. Taking your time is no guarantee you’re doing it right.

  • http://blog.captainthin.net/ Captain Thin

    At the University of Regina (in Canada) last year the ministry groups on campus held a public reading of all the letters of Paul (with occasional short breaks between some of them). As both a listener and a reader, I found it a powerful experience. As Todd above notices, reading large sections of Scripture at a time gives a larger-picture view of the Word. Our readings here certainly gave me time to meditate on the entire corpus of Paul’s writing as a whole. Last of all, it was fascinating to hear entire letters read aloud all at once – the way they were intended to be heard. While the lectionary is great, it tends to cut the letters up and it’s very easy for people to miss the progression of thought present in these epistles. I for one applaud the “Bible in 72 hours” idea in this post.

    Moreover, in the case of the readings at our university, it proved a powerful witness to the academic community around us. Many curious bystanders (students and professors) gathered to hear the readings, many staying to hear the reading of individual letters in their entirety. If it is the Scriptures that make us wise for salvation, and faith comes by hearing, how could the public reading of Scripture ever be a bad thing?

  • http://blog.captainthin.net/ Captain Thin

    At the University of Regina (in Canada) last year the ministry groups on campus held a public reading of all the letters of Paul (with occasional short breaks between some of them). As both a listener and a reader, I found it a powerful experience. As Todd above notices, reading large sections of Scripture at a time gives a larger-picture view of the Word. Our readings here certainly gave me time to meditate on the entire corpus of Paul’s writing as a whole. Last of all, it was fascinating to hear entire letters read aloud all at once – the way they were intended to be heard. While the lectionary is great, it tends to cut the letters up and it’s very easy for people to miss the progression of thought present in these epistles. I for one applaud the “Bible in 72 hours” idea in this post.

    Moreover, in the case of the readings at our university, it proved a powerful witness to the academic community around us. Many curious bystanders (students and professors) gathered to hear the readings, many staying to hear the reading of individual letters in their entirety. If it is the Scriptures that make us wise for salvation, and faith comes by hearing, how could the public reading of Scripture ever be a bad thing?

  • J Barnes

    We did this when I was in high school. If I recall correctly, we each read an hour, and then did an hour again later. We had t-shirts printed that said something like, “We did it – 72 hours, 14 minutes, 30 seconds.” We did the reading in the sanctuary, and people could attend and listen if they wanted. It’s hard to remember (since it was about 30 years ago!), but I think there was one person in attendance when I was reading.

    Personally, I don’t recall any particular benefit that came from this exercise, but I can’t speak for everyone who participated. I remember feeling pretty proud of ourselves for doing something unusual, which to my mind is a negative. I do remember that people would ask us what our t-shirts meant, but whether that lead to anything of value, I can’t say.

  • J Barnes

    We did this when I was in high school. If I recall correctly, we each read an hour, and then did an hour again later. We had t-shirts printed that said something like, “We did it – 72 hours, 14 minutes, 30 seconds.” We did the reading in the sanctuary, and people could attend and listen if they wanted. It’s hard to remember (since it was about 30 years ago!), but I think there was one person in attendance when I was reading.

    Personally, I don’t recall any particular benefit that came from this exercise, but I can’t speak for everyone who participated. I remember feeling pretty proud of ourselves for doing something unusual, which to my mind is a negative. I do remember that people would ask us what our t-shirts meant, but whether that lead to anything of value, I can’t say.

  • Chris

    I picked up this site by searching for how many hours it would take me to read through the whole Bible. I’ve read the Bible through at a random pace a couple of times but wanted to know how long it would take me to complete it at a faster and consistent pace? I have elected to do it in 60 days. I actually chose to begin my readings by shortest books first and then switched to reading New Testament books primarily.

    I must say I am not willing to be critical of any preferences of Bible reading methods. I do enjoy the benefit of context and background when the whole Bible has been read either in speed reading or slow, methodical study. What is used and how Holy Spirit leads and guides us into all truth I’m learning to be open to other ideas. Yes, I’m baffled that we seasoned believers are many times seemingly still fruitless and so unlike Christ, but I’m encourage that the Word says He is the author and finisher of our faith…

    Praise God for any church or person that encourages and supports the reading of the Bible. Pray that every impression of God’s love they sense while reading will be confirmed by our Christ-like love.

  • Chris

    I picked up this site by searching for how many hours it would take me to read through the whole Bible. I’ve read the Bible through at a random pace a couple of times but wanted to know how long it would take me to complete it at a faster and consistent pace? I have elected to do it in 60 days. I actually chose to begin my readings by shortest books first and then switched to reading New Testament books primarily.

    I must say I am not willing to be critical of any preferences of Bible reading methods. I do enjoy the benefit of context and background when the whole Bible has been read either in speed reading or slow, methodical study. What is used and how Holy Spirit leads and guides us into all truth I’m learning to be open to other ideas. Yes, I’m baffled that we seasoned believers are many times seemingly still fruitless and so unlike Christ, but I’m encourage that the Word says He is the author and finisher of our faith…

    Praise God for any church or person that encourages and supports the reading of the Bible. Pray that every impression of God’s love they sense while reading will be confirmed by our Christ-like love.

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