Dr. Jamie Jenkins: On Reading the Bible in a Year

"Everyone should read it-all of it!" That is the conclusion of David Plotz. He said further, "While reading the Bible, I often felt as if I had finally lifted a veil from my eye. Reading the whole Bible has changed me."

Plotz is a Harvard graduate who has written for the New York Times Magazine, Harper's, Reader's Digest, Rolling Stone, New Republic, Washington Post and GQ His latest book is Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible.

If you have never read the entire Bible, this is a good time to begin. There are many methods and schedules to help. Bishop Mike Watson recommends a Bible reading plan that enables you to read the whole Bible in just 15 minutes a day

Persons following the plan that Bishop Watson suggests will finish reading Hosea today and will complete the Old Testament on September 30. Beginning with the New Testament on October 1 is a good time to start reading through the Bible.

One person who accepted Bishop Watson's invitation last year started a Tuesday morning Bible study of persons who gathered each week. She said that the folks were challenged to read the bible in a year but they also came to know each other... "in new and deeper ways."

Another individual told how she and her 88 year old mother accepted Bishop Watson's challenge and successfully made it through from Genesis to Revelation. She said, "That was the first time (my mother) had ever read the Bible from beginning to end. It was such a wonderful worship experience for me to share that biblical journey with Mom. It was like being around a child in a candy shop as her eyes brightened during our conversations as she began to 'connect the dots' in the Bible stories she had been taught as a child. She was eager to read the Bible through again."

I heard from one person who said, "I accepted the Bishop's invitation to read the Bible because it has been a few years since I've read my Bible straight through.  Since I lead Disciple classes, Jesus in the Gospels, and Christian Believer, you would think I study my entire Bible, but I am fascinated as I follow this schedule how many stories I don't remember.  This strengthens my belief that no matter how long you've studied your Bible, there remains so much more to learn."

One couple encouraged the youth of their church to read the Bible. They said, "We think it will be helpful for them in their daily walk with Jesus." A movie evening and a pizza party was planned for those who completed the program.

" I have (read the Bible through) before, but it has been a couple of years," one layperson said. "I decided when Bishop Watson  put the call out that I should join in.  At times it has almost overwhelmed me.  I led Christian Believer this year, led a ladies Bible study, and other Sunday School lessons and workshops along the way.  No matter what I studied, my reading pointed out a valuable lesson. I am reminded God will do some pretty incredible things to remind us to trust and obey."

Mark Twain once said, "People say when they get to heaven, they'll fly around from cloud to cloud playing a harp; but I don't see too many people trying to learn how to fly or too many taking harp lessons to get ready for the event."

I don't know if flying around and playing harps is what is happening in heaven but I do believe that reading and understanding the Bible is the best way to learn how to live in this life and to prepare for the afterlife.

Abraham Lincoln wrote, "I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man." The philosopher Immanuel Kant said, "The existence of the Bible, as a book for the people, is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced."

I invite you to join in reading the Bible through this year. Now is a good time to begin.

Jamie Jenkins

[Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," Sept. 20, 2010. North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]