Reading the Bible in Machete Order

On the first day of my class on the Bible, I ask students what order we should read the Bible in. This year I made explicit reference to “machete order” – the approach to Star Wars that maximizes suspense by starting with Episode IV and V, then jumping back to the prequels (some recommend skipping Episode I entirely), and then jumping back to Episode VI and now beyond.

What would the equivalent order be in which to read the Bible? Keep in mind that this isn’t simply reading in the canonical order, nor just reading in the chronological order in which things were most likely written. What order of reading the Bible maximizes enjoyment of and appreciation for the collection as a whole? And which works if any are the equivalent of Star Wars Episode I, in that you would recommend skipping them in a machete order approach to the Bible?

I look forward to reading your answers in comments. Once you’ve come up with your own, you can take a look and see what others have already proposed.

"So Jesus's personal apocalyptism is debated, but I don't think it's debated that he was ..."

Gaps in Jesus’ Fossil Record?
"Yes, the apocalypticism is debated, and I did try to couch my descriptions with 'something ..."

Gaps in Jesus’ Fossil Record?
"I checked out the always useful Wikipedia page on the historical Jesus, and it said, ..."

Gaps in Jesus’ Fossil Record?
"What a fascinating and thought-provoking session!How does the Talmud illustrate distracted reading? I take it ..."

Liquid Scripture at #AARSBL17

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Phil Ledgerwood

    Just shooting from the hip, I think I would start with the Exile, go from there through the Gospels, then back to Abraham through the monarchy. I’m not sure how much of the New Testament I’d include, but I’d still end with the Apocalypse. I’d skip over the first several chapters of Genesis.

  • Darach Conneely

    “You no certain die” Jar Jar said to the woman. “for God knows da whena yousa eat from it yousa eyes ganna be open, and yousa ganna be likein God, know bombad and evil.”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Love it!

  • aar9n

    Read the Jewish Study Bible for the Hebrew scriptures, then the full Apocrypha (NRSV or CEB if casual) and Marcus Borgs “evolution of the word” for the Christian New Testament.
    This order shows the Hebrew Bible as the Hebrew Bible, and not as a prelude to the Christian New Testament, then provides the necessary historical context for the New Testament, and then shows the history of early Christian thought.

  • Matthew Funke

    It seems to me we’re late to the party. Ever since the Scofield Reference Bible, people have been reading the Bible in “machete order” to pretend that their idea of “Bible prophecy” has some merit. Skipping around random passages in Ezekiel and Daniel and Revelation in random order to figure out how future events fit together is pretty much *required*.

    Of course, as I think about it, that approach doesn’t really lead one to appreciate the whole more effectively. So maybe it doesn’t work as well as advertised.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Well, machete order doesn’t cut apart the movies, just organizes viewing differently, while on the other hand, the Scofield Reference Bible offers a (distorting) lens but doesn’t actually change the order.

      • Matthew Funke

        Ah. Good points.

  • http://www.stupidatheist.com J. Gravelle

    1) Apocalypse of Peter
    2) Ezekiel 23:20
    3) Song of Solomon 7:1-3, 7:8-9
    4) Genesis 19:33-36
    5) 2 Samuel 13:11-14
    6) Have a cigarette
    7) Nap…