How long does it take to read the whole Bible?

69 hours.  And to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Version, the Globe Theatre in London–an authentic recreation of Shakespeare’s playhouse–will read it straight through.

Shakespeares Globe Theatre in London has entitled its 2011 season “The Word is God” and will mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible with a cover-to-cover reading between Palm Sunday, 17 April, and Easter Monday, 25 April.

Twenty actors, including many Globe regulars, will take part in the reading, which will take 69 hours over the eight days. They will recite all 1,189 chapters of the historic bible, considered an essential part of the development of the English language, in the theater built as a replica of the place that saw many of Shakespeares greatest plays.

“Four hundred years ago, a set of church scholars sat in Stationers Hall by St. Pauls Cathedral and put the finishing touches to the King James Bible. Across the river, a set of playwrights, Shakespeare foremost amongst them, entertained a town. The playwrights listened to the clerics in church, the clerics sneaked in to listen to the plays in the theatre. Between the two of them they generated an energy, a fire and wit in the English language. We will honour that achievement this summer, starting with the recital of one of the greatest and most significant English texts – the Bible,” Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole said in an interview.

via Word is God at Shakespeare theatres season in London | The Christian Century.

The troupe will also put on mystery plays (the dramas of Bible stories that were the beginnings of modern drama), Anne Boleyn (Henry VIII’s short-lived queen and Reformation activist), and other performances and lectures about England’s Biblical heritage and the impact of the King James Bible on the English language and England’s culture.

HT:  Paul McCain

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.

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    Is this the world record? Some of my tech student friends tried to break the record 6 years ago by reading the Bible through aloud in under 53 hours, which was the previous record made by some Italians.

    The reading happened in a tent at the central square of our campus area. The idea was also to get people come inside the tent and discuss about Christianity etc. One night a group of naked drunken tech students had a “great idea” and ran inside the tent to cause some confusion and disorder. The passage precisely at the moment when they came inside the tent (and they didn’t plan it) was some of Paul’s warnings against adultery. How convenient! Don’t remember how it ended eventually. However, reading did not stop for one minute.

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    Is this the world record? Some of my tech student friends tried to break the record 6 years ago by reading the Bible through aloud in under 53 hours, which was the previous record made by some Italians.

    The reading happened in a tent at the central square of our campus area. The idea was also to get people come inside the tent and discuss about Christianity etc. One night a group of naked drunken tech students had a “great idea” and ran inside the tent to cause some confusion and disorder. The passage precisely at the moment when they came inside the tent (and they didn’t plan it) was some of Paul’s warnings against adultery. How convenient! Don’t remember how it ended eventually. However, reading did not stop for one minute.

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    The Italians didn’t read the Bible byt some other text aloud, if I remember right.

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    The Italians didn’t read the Bible byt some other text aloud, if I remember right.

  • Ryan

    Does this include the Apocrypha, as originally published in the AV
    (KJV)?

  • Ryan

    Does this include the Apocrypha, as originally published in the AV
    (KJV)?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Seems like that would be mentally fatiguing.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Seems like that would be mentally fatiguing.

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    How long does it take to understand the whole Bible?

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    How long does it take to understand the whole Bible?

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  • Grace

    The point is missed. How long does it take one to UNDERSTAND what the Bible says –

    Speed read accomplishes nothing, it’s just an exercise that demeans the HOLY Scriptures, into a game .. shameful!

  • Grace

    The point is missed. How long does it take one to UNDERSTAND what the Bible says –

    Speed read accomplishes nothing, it’s just an exercise that demeans the HOLY Scriptures, into a game .. shameful!

  • helen

    It doesn’t sound like the Shakespeare Players plan on “speed reading”; they are observing the KJV’s 400th anniversary (and simultaneously gathering a certain amount of attention for Shakespeare).
    Re fatigue: It does say that 20 readers will participate.
    Issues, Etc. has a dozen ‘talkers’ over 24 hours next week. :)
    I don’t think I’ll hear the whole thing. :(

  • helen

    It doesn’t sound like the Shakespeare Players plan on “speed reading”; they are observing the KJV’s 400th anniversary (and simultaneously gathering a certain amount of attention for Shakespeare).
    Re fatigue: It does say that 20 readers will participate.
    Issues, Etc. has a dozen ‘talkers’ over 24 hours next week. :)
    I don’t think I’ll hear the whole thing. :(

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    A congregation I once attended did a Marathon reading of Genesis one Sunday after late service. It took us 3 1/2 hours to read. There are benefits to taking Scripture in in longer sections like this. Especially at the level of a book. (I can’t vouch for the whole of the Scriptures in one sitting, especially speed read.) You get to see the book as a single unit in a way that would not happen if you read it through a few chapters at a time, even over successive days. Your memory is fresher for what was said ten chapters ago, and connections get made.

    What I noticed in Genesis was that God asks Adam and Eve “What have you done,” and through the rest of the book, someone is asking someone, “Why have you done this to me?”

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    A congregation I once attended did a Marathon reading of Genesis one Sunday after late service. It took us 3 1/2 hours to read. There are benefits to taking Scripture in in longer sections like this. Especially at the level of a book. (I can’t vouch for the whole of the Scriptures in one sitting, especially speed read.) You get to see the book as a single unit in a way that would not happen if you read it through a few chapters at a time, even over successive days. Your memory is fresher for what was said ten chapters ago, and connections get made.

    What I noticed in Genesis was that God asks Adam and Eve “What have you done,” and through the rest of the book, someone is asking someone, “Why have you done this to me?”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I was curious, so I looked around and found that the (King James) Bible seems to have around 800,000 words in it (more or less, depending on whom you ask and how they count).

    If they take 69 hours to read it all, that’s 11,600 words/hour, or 193 words/minute, or 3.2 words/second.

    According to Wikipedia, “Audiobooks are recommended to be 150–160 words per minute”. This is definitely faster than that, but I’m not sure it’s all that fast. A New York Times article I found noted that “Varsity debaters talk at 350 to 400 words a minute — about the speed of a fast auctioneer.” Now that’s well into the realm of incomprehensibility. But this is half that speed.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I was curious, so I looked around and found that the (King James) Bible seems to have around 800,000 words in it (more or less, depending on whom you ask and how they count).

    If they take 69 hours to read it all, that’s 11,600 words/hour, or 193 words/minute, or 3.2 words/second.

    According to Wikipedia, “Audiobooks are recommended to be 150–160 words per minute”. This is definitely faster than that, but I’m not sure it’s all that fast. A New York Times article I found noted that “Varsity debaters talk at 350 to 400 words a minute — about the speed of a fast auctioneer.” Now that’s well into the realm of incomprehensibility. But this is half that speed.

  • Grace

    Helen – 7

    “It doesn’t sound like the Shakespeare Players plan on “speed reading”; they are observing the KJV’s 400th anniversary (and simultaneously gathering a certain amount of attention for Shakespeare).”

    ” attention for Shakespeare).” – so they accomplish two things at once? God’s Word is HOLY – Shakespeare, no matter how great his work, doesn’t compare, nor should it be placed next to the Word of God, as a marathon event to spotlight Shakespeare.

    Shameful!

  • Grace

    Helen – 7

    “It doesn’t sound like the Shakespeare Players plan on “speed reading”; they are observing the KJV’s 400th anniversary (and simultaneously gathering a certain amount of attention for Shakespeare).”

    ” attention for Shakespeare).” – so they accomplish two things at once? God’s Word is HOLY – Shakespeare, no matter how great his work, doesn’t compare, nor should it be placed next to the Word of God, as a marathon event to spotlight Shakespeare.

    Shameful!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I also want to second Rick’s point (@8) in praise of fast reading (to be distinguished from scanning or pure speed performance).

    My church offered a survey course of the Old Testament that required us to get through large chunks of Scripture every week. Myself, I tend to be a scrutinizer, rarely making it through a whole chapter at one sitting when I read my Bible. And that has its benefits. But being forced to abandon that — “I have to read the whole book of Psalms this week!” — did allow me to see patterns I never did before, as Rick said. You don’t get as much out of each verse, but you see more connections within and between books.

    And, you know, reading the books as a whole — as opposed to studiously pacing through them — is more akin to how they were originally intended to be read, isn’t it?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I also want to second Rick’s point (@8) in praise of fast reading (to be distinguished from scanning or pure speed performance).

    My church offered a survey course of the Old Testament that required us to get through large chunks of Scripture every week. Myself, I tend to be a scrutinizer, rarely making it through a whole chapter at one sitting when I read my Bible. And that has its benefits. But being forced to abandon that — “I have to read the whole book of Psalms this week!” — did allow me to see patterns I never did before, as Rick said. You don’t get as much out of each verse, but you see more connections within and between books.

    And, you know, reading the books as a whole — as opposed to studiously pacing through them — is more akin to how they were originally intended to be read, isn’t it?

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    I was not recommending particularly fast reading, tODD. I was recommending taking larger portions of Scripture in in one sitting. We didn’t rush when we read Genesis in 3 1/2 hours. It happened to come in a little under what I estimated based on my audio Bible. But Alexander Scourby is quite leisurely!

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    I was not recommending particularly fast reading, tODD. I was recommending taking larger portions of Scripture in in one sitting. We didn’t rush when we read Genesis in 3 1/2 hours. It happened to come in a little under what I estimated based on my audio Bible. But Alexander Scourby is quite leisurely!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Rick (@12), okay, but, at least at my typical pace, reading Genesis in that amount of time would be fast! And I’ve known of church Bible studies that have spent months, not hours, on books like Genesis. Which, again, has its place. But so does the (relatively) faster pace you referred to. That’s all I’m saying.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Rick (@12), okay, but, at least at my typical pace, reading Genesis in that amount of time would be fast! And I’ve known of church Bible studies that have spent months, not hours, on books like Genesis. Which, again, has its place. But so does the (relatively) faster pace you referred to. That’s all I’m saying.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I Don’t care why they are reading it. I’m just glad they are. And I pray that it becomes somewhat a reenactment of 2 Kings 22.

    Now of course, whether I read it fast, or slow, in large chunks or small chunks, I find that chapter to be reenacted many times over in my own heart.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I Don’t care why they are reading it. I’m just glad they are. And I pray that it becomes somewhat a reenactment of 2 Kings 22.

    Now of course, whether I read it fast, or slow, in large chunks or small chunks, I find that chapter to be reenacted many times over in my own heart.

  • helen

    Grace @ 10
    I think you are missing what is going on. Did you read the linked article?
    Shakespeare and the KJV were being written about the same time. Between them they created a beautiful English language. If the Shakespeare company reads KJV as literature, it is still getting read. Where the Word is read those who are chosen will hear it. Some people will listen because it is the Shakespeare company, some because they will hear the KJV read well. Either way, it can’t hurt!

    I’m sorry if my careless description set your teeth on edge!

  • helen

    Grace @ 10
    I think you are missing what is going on. Did you read the linked article?
    Shakespeare and the KJV were being written about the same time. Between them they created a beautiful English language. If the Shakespeare company reads KJV as literature, it is still getting read. Where the Word is read those who are chosen will hear it. Some people will listen because it is the Shakespeare company, some because they will hear the KJV read well. Either way, it can’t hurt!

    I’m sorry if my careless description set your teeth on edge!

  • Grace

    Helen,

    “I think you are missing what is going on

    Helen, I read and comprehend, I have missed nothing. Because I don’t agree doesn’t equate to “you are missing what is going on” -

    “I’m sorry if my careless description set your teeth on edge!

    Aren’t you the snarky one! LOL

  • Grace

    Helen,

    “I think you are missing what is going on

    Helen, I read and comprehend, I have missed nothing. Because I don’t agree doesn’t equate to “you are missing what is going on” -

    “I’m sorry if my careless description set your teeth on edge!

    Aren’t you the snarky one! LOL

  • helen

    Grace @ 16
    “Aren’t you the snarky one! LOL”

    I’ve never seen that one applied to an apology! I had to look it up.
    [One site says I should consider it a compliment, but considering the
    associated bad language there, I'm surprised that you use it. Doesn't
    seem to fit the righteousness you were displaying!]

    (Now, that is admittedly snotty, even if it’s not some of the other things.)
    I’ll cease and desist… maybe we can get back to the topic.

  • helen

    Grace @ 16
    “Aren’t you the snarky one! LOL”

    I’ve never seen that one applied to an apology! I had to look it up.
    [One site says I should consider it a compliment, but considering the
    associated bad language there, I'm surprised that you use it. Doesn't
    seem to fit the righteousness you were displaying!]

    (Now, that is admittedly snotty, even if it’s not some of the other things.)
    I’ll cease and desist… maybe we can get back to the topic.

  • Grace

    Helen – 17

    “I’ve never seen that one applied to an apology! I had to look it up.
    [One site says I should consider it a compliment, but considering the
    associated bad language there, I'm surprised that you use it. Doesn't
    seem to fit the righteousness you were displaying!]”

    You need a new dictionary! There is no “bad language” connected with the word “snarky” – and yes your comment was snarky –

    If you don’t like Merriam Webster, try the Oxford Dictionary.

    Merriam-Webster Dictionary

    SNARKY – definition
    1 crotchety, snappish
    2 sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent in tone or manner

  • Grace

    Helen – 17

    “I’ve never seen that one applied to an apology! I had to look it up.
    [One site says I should consider it a compliment, but considering the
    associated bad language there, I'm surprised that you use it. Doesn't
    seem to fit the righteousness you were displaying!]”

    You need a new dictionary! There is no “bad language” connected with the word “snarky” – and yes your comment was snarky –

    If you don’t like Merriam Webster, try the Oxford Dictionary.

    Merriam-Webster Dictionary

    SNARKY – definition
    1 crotchety, snappish
    2 sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent in tone or manner

  • Jamie King

    The Bible cannot be understood per se because it presents the transcendent truths which are greater than our human minds. It is quite true, however, that reading Scriptures is the excellent way have submitting to God’s will, and speeding through reading Scriptures is not a great idea. It may be better to hear a speed reading of God’s Word than watching a preacher go on speculating on what he believes rather than preaching what God says.

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