Sitting next to me, on the top right corner of my desk, is a copy of The Bible. As a title, it simply says: Holy Bible. The Bible is a book that has been in my life as long as I can remember. I’ve gone to churches, Christian schools (taught at one), written about the Bible, debated about the Bible, and chose to live my life in accordance with the book.
I’ve also read the whole thing. It took me five years, and was done as a part of a challenge. In one of the many religious debates and conversations I had over the years, someone said, “A lot of Christians haven’t even read The Bible.” “Yeah,” I guiltily replied, fitting that camp.
So I started reading it, a little bit at a time. Some of the process felt obligatory, and some was down right interesting (like the time a dude sacrificed someone to the Christian God.) Parts of it are hilarious, like the parts that explain humans and animals cannot have sex. I remember thinking that most of what “good, Christian people” read about, they would never let their kids watch on tv. And that if a bunch of the Bible were filmed, it would be rated R (at least). There’s also a lot of parts that you don’t know what to deal with, like King David seeing a naked woman, summoning her, sleeping with her, and killing her husband. There’s a lot of death. A lot of sex. A lot of really weird stories. But also a lot of beauty. And then you get to Jesus.
Jesus is probably the most compelling character we find in a book. What he says is still so radical that most people can’t follow it, won’t follow it, or don’t get it. Jesus, like a lot of other stories, gets so mythicized that we miss out on the depth and meaning of the words and stories. (If you don’t believe me, re-read the book of Jonah. Before reading, try to remember how it ends.)
Well, it’s time for me to read it again, and this time I want to detail how it goes. I want to look at it and give a laymans commentary on that. If there’s struggle, or backwards thought, or things that are odd: I will not hide from those things. I’ll also not go into detail about what doesn’t need it or what I don’t find compelling. But, for the rest: it’s time.
People love using the Bible to prove their point. They’ll make a statement and then add, Galatians 3:6 says, or Jeremiah 12:4 says, and that’s supposed to be the end. Like this isolated chapter in a thick book is the final authority on all things. People will do this for most political issues, to support the army, authority, gender rights and equality issues, homosexuality, creation, science, and, really, almost anything.
When I’ve heard this lately, I can’t help but notice that almost everyone chooses verses that align with whatever they think in the first place. Don’t like gays? We'll, that’s because Paul talks about “sexual immorality”. Don’t think woman should be in positions of power? That’s because of some little line that says woman shouldn’t speak. Most of which is taken out of context.
I’d like to call b.s. on that. I think we that care about God, God’s planet, and The Church need to talk about what the book actually is. We’re all weaving a narrative.
For my own purposes, because I still care about these debates and issues, I want to go back and look at the Bible. And since I process things through writing, I’m going to write about what I read.
To do this, I’m going to go at my own pace, with the intent to really remember what I read. When I do my commentary, I’ll list the chapters I’m talking about, like Genesis 1-3. But I’m going to add things as they come, how it speaks to me, rather than by following a formula like Bible in a Year. Some sections, like The Sermon on the Mount, deserve a lot of time, while some things like, Chronicles 1-13 don’t.
So I’ll read, and I’ll write. Feel free to join me.
I'm not a technical Biblical scholar, and will only research things that I feel compelled to research. These are only my thoughts and reflections. But I am a Christian, have studied this stuff my whole life, and really do care; so, it’s more than just a reaction, also.
I’m doing this because we should take the Bible seriously. And I’m going to try to do that.