Why Does The Bible Feel Like a Norton Anthology?

Why Does The Bible Feel Like a Norton Anthology? January 22, 2015

When it comes to Bible reading plans, Bible readers have as many options as Heinz used to have ketchup. Here are the choices this Bible-reading-plan consumer faced when deciding on what might fit my needs (if God is the author of Scripture, which I believe, maybe I should worry less about my “lifestyle” and more about his will?):

71 Days in Isaiah – Carefully work your way through Isaiah in 71 days to experience the full impact of the prophet’s words.

Book Order – Read from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 in the order in which the books of the Bible are arranged.

Chronological – Read the Bible in the order that the events happened.

Chronological New Testament – In only 3 months you can read the New Testament in the order that the events happened.

Classic – Read 3 passages each day, starting with Genesis, Psalms, and Luke. From the original Bible Study Tools reading plan.

Daily Gospel – This plan focuses on the record of the life of Christ. You’ll read through all four gospels in 45 days.

Daily Psalm – Read one Psalm per day for a spiritual boost

Daily Wisdom – Find wisdom each day as you read straight through the Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Solomon in 60 days.

New Testament – Read straight through the New Testament in 90 days.

Ninety-Day Challenge – Read the Bible all the way through in only 90 days. It’s a challenge well worth taking.

Old Testament and New Testament – Read one passage from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament each day.

One-Year Immersion Plan – With this immersive plan, you’ll read the Old Testament once and the New Testament three times each year.

Prof. Horner’s Reading System – A unique and challenging system where you read 10 chapters a day.

Stay-on-Track Plan – If you have trouble staying on track, this one-year plan will help. There are readings only on the weekdays, with weekends free to catch up or get ahead.

The Busy-Life Plan – If your life is busy, this plan will help you get through the Bible at a pace that works for you. You’ll read a short selection each day and complete the Bible in two years.

The Christmas Bible Reading Plan – Designed for personal or family reading times, these 25 New Testament readings highlight the birth of Jesus and the purpose for His coming. Related Old Testament passages are also featured daily.

Thematic – This Bible reading schedule is thematic or connective in nature. The goal is to make as many associations as possible between the different parts of Scripture while still reading individual books of the Bible from start to finish.

The curious aspect of these plans is the way they veer between a plan that will challenge you — like running a marathon — and a schedule that will fit around your busy life. The one that appealed most to me as a historian, someone obsessed with chronology, was — you guessed it — The Chronological. But I finally decided against that because it would mean carrying around a Bible plus a schedule. What I wanted was a plan that came already packaged between two covers. And Max Lucado along with the publishers at Thomas Nelson had just what I was looking for: Grace for the Moment Daily Bible. Published in 2006, it has all the passages laid out in sequence according to the days of the calendar. It starts with Gen 1-2, Psalm 1, and Matthew 1 on January 1. Since I am only starting this plan on January 19, I will need to adjust the dates. The one drawback is the translation Lucado and Nelson decided to use — The New Century Version. I had not heard of it before. So far, certain words and phrases stand out as strange. I prefer “livestock and creeping things” to “tame animals, and all the small crawling animals” (Gen 1:25) if only because I like thinking of our cats as livestock rather than tame — you never tame a cat because cats subdue humans.

The feel of this version of the Bible reminds me of the Norton Anthology for colonial American literature that I assigned a year ago at this time. It has the same onion leaf paper that makes you think you will never get through this book. And it is a sampler much like the way the Norton editors anthologized samples from the likes of Christopher Columbus, William Bradford, and Samuel De Champlain. The pairings in Norton made sense, at least chronologically. Starting off with the beginnings of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Psalms doesn’t, unless Max Lucado’s devotional thoughts will fill in the missing contexts. So far I am not sure. Max likened God’s creation of the world to a carpenter “whistling” in his workshop. So much for the creator-creature distinction.

At least with this volume, I have a whole year (instead of a semester) to finish it.

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