Reading and Re-reading the Text

There is no greater substitute for knowing the Bible than simply reading and re-reading the text. Sermons, Bible classes, commentaries, and other theology books have their place. They can be beneficial for bringing understanding, but they should supplement Bible reading and not replace it.

How many times should I read a text? Good question. I’m glad you asked.

Lately, I have mostly been teaching Old Testament historical books (Pentateuch and History). My general practice is to try to read the text three times before the start of class and then read the text in preparation for each week’s lesson. I remember Bob Waldron, an excellent Bible teacher, suggest reading the text at least three times in preparation, to see what it says, what it means, and its relationship to the overall theme of the Bible.

I heard one teacher that had been intending to teach Ecclesiastes state that he had determined to read the text 1,000 times before he taught it. I know this man, and those are not just empty words. He will certainly do as he says. If you are counting, that is under 3 years of reading the book once a day. Wow!

I love reading books about the Bible and theology, but I need to do more reading of the Bible itself. Reading a text 1,000 times seems a little out of reach for me, but I think I would like to try this on a smaller scale. In addition to my daily Bible reading, I’m going to set a goal of 100 times with one of the following possible texts:

  • Genesis 1-3; Creation and first sin
  • Exodus 19-24; The Giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai
  • One of the Minor Prophets
  • Matthew 5-7 and Luke 7:17-49; The Sermons on the Mount and the Plain
  • The Epistle to the Galatians (or any of the Prison Epistles)

So, that’s my goal. I’m leaning toward starting with the Exodus passage. Do you have any other suggestions for potential passages that you feel are foundational?

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5 Responses to Reading and Re-reading the Text

  1. Great question! I’d add Isaiah 40-55 to your excellent list! And I’d make Zechariah the Minor Prophet book – one of the most cited books in the New Testament.

  2. Curtis says:

    Jeremy, I love reading the life of Paul. With that reading I do the acts accounts and insert his letters where I best feel they were written. I do this over and over. It helps me so much in my understanding of how to behave as a christian (I should have it perfected but NOT) and also how the church is to be set up and behave. It has been my main study over the past several years . I read the gospels or perhaps the old in order then back to Paul’s. Enjoy your lessons Jeremy.

  3. Dell Russell says:

    I don’t have any particular book in mind, but I will say I would highly recommend the KJV over others. Not only that, but read it without any cross references or notes, just the plain text. Read the Word to see what God is saying. If you have difficulty in understanding it just continue on and most likely it will explain itself on down further in the passage. You will notice that many times the bible will give you other things along the way building up as it goes along. Also it will give positive, negative, positive to highlight itself. Jesus does this in John chapter 3 and also you can see this in 1 John, Romans , and Eph.
    The main reason I would recommend the KJV is it is a more word for word translation than the others. All versions have to use interpretation (not to be confused with translation), but the KJV does’nt do it to the extent of others. For example in Galatians 5:12 many modern versions have interpreted this in one form or another that Paul was saying he wished they would castrate themselves. This is hardly the case. Paul says in Gal.5:12; “I would they were even cut off which trouble you.” They take that part “cut off” and with the thought of the subject mater being circumcision they come up with some strange thoughts. The term “cut off” is used many times in the bible and it means to be removed from. Paul wanted the trouble makers to be removed from the Church so they would stop troubling the believers, Very simple.
    I have a King James bible that has no notes whatsoever and have enjoyed in very much. There are no distractions as I;m reading and I feel its just God and me coming together.
    Also I have a reproduction of the KJB of before the spelling was standardized, but after the Gothic print. I have found it to be a blessing as well. Not having the letter J and u being read as v and vise versa has been a learning experience for me. But once I got used to it I found it made me think more about what I’m reading.
    I want to get a Gothic print and dive in. The Gothic print is very nice to look at and from what little I have read of it on the www its not as bad as many have made it out to be.

    • Jeremy says:

      Thanks for the comments Dell. I think that it is a good exercise to read the Bible in different versions to be able to get a sense of different renderings in English. I do like your suggestion of reading the text without all the margins and notes. That can be a good practice to read the text in an unencumbered way.

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