A few years ago, I heard a Bible teacher suggest picking a book of the Bible, then reading it over and over again, twenty times, before moving on to another book. More recently, a guest on a podcast I listened to mentioned the idea of taking one book at a time, reading it over and over for a month, then moving on to the next book.
These insights led me to assemble a five-year Bible reading plan, which I started this past October. My plan is structured around reading one book of the Bible at a time, over and over, for about twenty times or a month or so. The longer the book, the more time is dedicated to it, and the books are arranged, carefully, to move back and forth between New Testament and Old Testament, often following some type of thematic tie in between works. You can see the plan details, and try it for yourself, on this page.
In October, I started with Mark as my initial test piece. Each morning, I read through the book in its entirety (turns out Mark is not nearly as long as I thought). I read from multiple translations and from several different study Bibles. In all, I read (or listened to) Mark twenty-seven times over the course of four weeks.
Initially, this seemed to be a boring, pointless exercise. Mark seemed dry, predictable, formulaic. Passe. However, by about nine days in, I began seeing insights into the book’s structure and message I had not noticed before. It was a profound realization.
November found me digging into Hebrews. Providentially, this came right as the Naked Bible Podcast with Dr. Michael Heiser was teaching a series on the book. I began listening to those episodes, and also listened to the Hebrews series from Beth Immanuel, taught by D. Thomas Lancaster. Hebrews is a knotty, tough book. It’s beautifully written and packed with meaning. I found myself spending extended periods of time digging deeper, getting at the Greek, considering different interpretations of texts, and reading the Old Testament source texts the author of Hebrews quotes. This deep dive into Hebrews refined my theology and solidified my faith in profound ways.
I then moved on to 1 and 2 Peter, which were incredibly rich, fruitful books. Then, in January, I tackled Zechariah. Zechariah is hard. He’s a minor prophet, the last one chronologically, and his writings are esoteric and nonobvious. There is a pattern and an outline to the book, but it wasn’t immediately clear, and there’s some really weird stuff, especially in the first eight chapters with his dream visions. However, the time spent dwelling in Zechariah was well worth it: After repeatedly reading and struggling to understand these strange writings, I began to see the patterns and “get” it. Turns out, Zechariah is a beautiful work of prophecy, and it is full of Messianic prophecies, more so than most other minor prophets.
If you’re like me, and want to transform your Bible reading into something greater, give this plan a shot. You won’t regret it.