Helping to Get Through the Bible (or The Old Testament and My Ipod)
During this summer, I’ve made it a point to brush up on some books of the Old Testament. Within a week and half period I read through Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah. Now, for me, that’s a lot! I’m not an incredibly fast reader, and I tend to be even slower when reading Scripture.
How then, do you ask, did such a slow reader make it through so much Bible in so little time (you are asking that, aren’t you? 😛 )? Here’s my plan of attack. Currently I’m reading the NIV translation of the Bible, coupled by listening to the NIV on my Ipod. The version I’m listening to is Max McLean’s The Listener’s Bible.
Note: You need to match the version of the Bible you’re listening to with the version of the Bible you’re reading, otherwise it can have the reverse effect of helping you speed up your reading and heighten your retention rate.
I get roughly 7-11 chapters read in a sitting. Why? Because my eyes follow along the text as I hear it read. I can’t stop reading, because Max won’t stop speaking. At the beginning of each new chapter I pause it and write down a time marker (in case I want to jump to that chapter in the future). Also, because I’m doubling the sensory input (sight and sound), I retain more details and tend to catch things I wouldn’t if I only read silently (repetition of key words, phrases, etc.). With 2 sittings of Bible reading, I can get anywhere from 14-22 chapters read in a day.
Also, reading in this manner helps to paint the overall picture of the Old Testament. Since I can now read all of Deuteronomy and Joshua within a 2 day span, I can easily see the points of continuity and development. I can trace themes through the OT and, in fact, pick up the major plot lines (drawing to mind how they are all fulfilled in Christ) without have to settle for a 1 chapter here, 2 chapters there approach.
I encourage you to try this if you haven’t completed your Bible yet and have been trying for quite some time. It would cut down those Bible in a Year reading plans to mere months (or weeks, if you’re crazy). I especially recommend it for the Old Testament. Most Christians have read much more of the New Testament than Old (I know I’m guilty of this). And as a result we’ve become only “half-Bible” believers, weakening our worldview and witness. Most of the OT was written in a narrative form, i.e. they were to be read as stories, and read out loud. Hearing the Scriptures makes the stories come alive in a fresh way. And looking at the text while listening helps to keep us focused and retain more.
Downloading the OT straight from the listenersbible.com cost $34.95. It’s an investment and indeed well worth the price.
If you try this, please give me feedback. I’d love to know how this is working for you.
UPDATE: For the month of January 2014, Christian Audio is giving away the entire ESV Hear the Word Audio Bible for a FREE download (75 hours; retail: $29.99).