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Read the Bible in three years

The Bible Through the Seasons: A Three-Year Journey with the Bible by Nicholas Connolly 472 pages (iUniverse, Inc. March 20, 2007)

How do you read the whole Bible systematically and prayerfully? How do you not loose energy for your reading when you hit page after page of Iron Age health regulations and butchering instructions? How do you connect your reading in with the Church Year and the ecumenical Sunday three year lectionary?

Nick Connolly had an insight in 1996 to read the Bible completely in three years, incorporating the Church Year, using the Sunday gospel reading from the three year lectionary, and also using the Sabbath Torah reading of the three year Synagogue lectionary. You can do the maths; with 1,189 chapters of the Protestant Bible, that’s about a chapter a day.

As well as the Saturday and Sunday readings being as I have described, Monday the reading is from the Prophets; Tuesday — Hebrew History and the Writings; Wednesday — The Psalms; Thursday — The New Testament; Friday — The Gospels.

There is a brief reflection associated with each reading. And other resources to stimulate prayer and lectio divina.

I bought the eBook and have started using it.

There looks to be exploration of the links between Church seasons and the solar seasons – I have not had time yet to explore how this works, and how this relates to us in the Southern Hemisphere.

There is an associated website, where it speaks of downloading a trial of four weeks. There is a page of this week’s resources – I’m not sure if this the the four week trial that is being written about, or if this continues perpetually. I hope it is the latter. There is a Yahoo Group – but currently with only 10 members. It would be good to have some idea how many books have been sold – how widespread is this way of reading the Bible, a few? many? droves? Such a community can be an encouragement…

I regularly encounter young people looking for a way to read the whole Bible. I am not (yet) convinced that this complete book is for them, but the scheme most certainly is a way I would like to recommend to them. Young people would certainly follow such a system online, or with an iPod, iPad app. I hope Nick Connolly considers producing such; or having an app produced. His resources page would be improved by linking the reading through to the actual (NRSV) text – not difficult to do. Here is today’s text. I would love to incorporate the system into the online chapel here.

A final point: Nick Connolly left the Roman Catholic Church and is now a pastor in the United Methodist Church. I have already mentioned, this book reads the Protestant Bible completely. It seems to me there can be a simple adaptation so that all the books of the Roman Catholic Bible are incorporated into this system (and the Orthodox Bible?).

Highly recommended.

Update December 14:

The Bible Through the Seasons website
Resources from the Bible through the Seasons
Daily blog and resources for the Bible through the Seasons

The online chapel here also has links to these resources.

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14 thoughts on “Read the Bible in three years”

  1. It’s a very comprehensive system … very helpful in its own way.

    It just absolutely drives me nuts though to read so little of the Bible each day. I’m sure that’s a personal failing.

    I need more copious amounts than simply the reading he suggests. I like to read from the OT, Psalms and NT daily or I don’t feel like I’m immersing myself in scripture.

    Obviously his program is better suited to meditation than broad reading.

    It is however a wonderful book and helpful for a variety of reasons.

  2. The fifteen years since the Lord laid it on my heart to develop The Bible Through the Seasons have been transforming for me. I have a passion for doing my part in continuing the centuries old grace from God in transforming a sense of time into the sacred.

    Over these years I’ve know others who share this vision, but none with quite the energy as Bosco Peters. I am most grateful for his review of The Bible Through the Seasons. In a short time he has caught the joy of this work, blending in, as it does with his own life-call.

    Bosco offered the suggestion of making the daily readings available on line. Links have now been made at the weekly web pages which include links to the Oremus Bible Browser, a resource that I’m grateful that Bosco shared with me.

    The Southern Hemisphere…Now that’s been a challenge for me since my sense of sacred time is derived from the solar seasons in the north. While I’ve been aware of this Bible plan for both Hemispheres, I admit that there are many feelings and images from the north, as was the original development of the sacred seasons since the earliest times of the church. However, I have tried not to make the sense of the sacred seasons depend only on the solar ones. So I hope that folks in the south can benefit from this work.

    Several hundred copies of the book have been sold, with an unknown number of ebooks as people become acquainted with this resource from http://www.biblethroughseasons.com This site is the basic one not only as an introduction to the plan, but also as the place for finding free updates for the program. Here is a site page to be bookmarked: http://www.biblethroughseasons.com/Downloads.html. There are links on this page that will take you to weekly updates. There you will find audio versions of the “Firestarters.” These were created with a view toward developing an audio book; they are about one-minute in length. I plan to offer these indefinitely. While I’m not familiar with developing apps for phones, the audio pages can be downloaded into iPods or mobile phones. I hope to have these audio versions prepared well in advance so that users can download several weeks at a time, if they wish.

    In the future, I will see about including the books recognized by the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches as canonical.

    Thanks again to Bosco Peters for his enthusiastic endorsement of this unique approach to daily Bible reading.

    1. Thanks, Nick, for your encouragement. I am so thrilled that you took up my suggestion to have the linking through to the actual biblical text. Your work appears to me to be eminently suitable for an iTouch, iPad app. I will try and make time this week to put this link within my online chapel. I have a passion for translating the Northern-Hemisphere-derived Church seasons and translating them into our Southern Hemisphere context. [Just two examples: Advent, Christmas] There is quite a bit of this in my book Celebrating Eucharist.

  3. The principle of Ignatius Loyola of “Finding God in all things” suggests that the Spirit within is helping us to interpret the seasons and the signs of the times in through the church year. Thanks for sharing how you find meaning in Advent and Christmas when the Southern Hemisphere is flowering with life.

    The days of the week have changed meaning for me as each day is dedicated to a part of the Bible; another example of associating an inner spiritual feeling with how we live the calendar.

    I’ll be open to apps for The Bible Through the Seasons, though there’s a learning that I’ll need to make in this area.

    I find meaning in sensing the time of day for you in New Zealand, 18 hours ahead of in Eastern USA. As I prepare to retire this Second Sunday in Advent, I greet you with, “Good Monday afternoon!


  4. Coming Soon!

    I’m working on offering the three-year plan on WordPress as well as developing an apps for cell phones. Thanks, Bosco, for these suggestions.

    One feature about this plan is what I call “Guiltless Bible Reading.” If you happen to get behind, don’t worry; the reading will cycle back in three years. What is important is the here and now, joining with others reading and praying along with you.

  5. Thanks very much, Bosco. I’m so appreciate of your support and the ranger of those that frequent your blog. Thank you for the online chapel reference.

    I’m planning to begin the blog tomorrow, posting at 12 pm Eastern Standard Time USA for the reading for the following day. In this way, users in New Zealand will find the Firestarter and passage at 6 am your time on the day of the reading.

    Magmito.com that I’ll be using to create the apps has not yet confirmed my email address…I’ll be looking into this.

    Blessings from your brother in the Lord,

    1. Thanks for the magmito.com link – I didn’t know about this. Many a teenager will create an app very quickly 🙂 I think there is some registering with iTunes as well. Also, please give us the link to your blog, so I can start promoting that. It is good that you think there is quite a range of visitors here. It’s regularly a couple of thousand visitors a day. Also the twitter profile is a positive sign of people’s hopes with about eighty thousand there. Blessings on your venture.

  6. Thanks, Bosco. I appreciate all your tweets about the Bible program.

    I love the image of weaving a tapestry for God. I feel as though I’ve been doing various things to drawn the thread into the eye of the needle. Your interest has widened the opening of the needle! Who knows: maybe a camel may yet be able to pass through…for nothing is impossible with God!

  7. “There looks to be exploration of the links between Church seasons and the solar seasons – I have not had time yet to explore how this works, and how this relates to us in the Southern Hemisphere.”

    I’ve actually been designing a bible reading plan as a shadow to a Christian doctrine 101 course, where the scriptures are read more or less chronologically (historically), with key doctrinal subjects explored as they emerge.

    Also, as I mentioned on Peter’s site, I generally enjoy using the lectionary readings because of the way they tie in with the life of the Anglican Church and our local parish, and with the church calendar.

    But, also, I’ve grown more aware about just how much the Christian calendar interacts with the Northern Hemisphere seasons. But I’ve noticed that as we reinterpret the imagery we use to relate our solar seasons to our church seasons, and sing songs about beaches and barbecues etc at Christmas, that imagery actually seems much more dischordant to the festival’s actual meaning, than does that of the Northern Hemipshere. This is only too evident with Easter. It often feels there is as much emphasis in preaching and worship on Good Friday as there is on Easter Sunday. Maybe that’s because we are in Fall (Autumn) mode, rather than Spring mode.

    I can’t help but think that if I was Samuel Marsden all of those years ago, knowing what I know now – that these antipodean projects would be a roaring success, and that the Lord was still tarrying after 200 years – I would have seriously considered instituting a Southern Hemisphere calendar that celebrated Christmas on the most humble day of our calendar, and Easter at the most hopeful time of our year.

    I understand New Zealanders are becoming more accustomed to Matariki, the Maori New Year, which would actually be aligned very closely with advent if we were to observe Christ’s coming at the time of year it is likely that he came – the time of year that the kind of God we worship would be likely to have come.

    But I do understand the sentiment of reading the bible collectively with people across the world. I would like to design a reading plan, like Connolly’s, which achieves both. But it hurts my brain too much to even start to think about how such a plan could work!

    I think it is important to read scripture ecumenically. It is also important to honour the Northern Hemisphere imagery associated with the Christian festivals – for Christ did come in the Northern Hemisphere. We honour the manger as a symbol of humility – his coming on the shortest darkest day is an equally powerful symbol. But it is also important that our own seasons correspond to the story of God’s redemption of creation, so they can be employed to help inspire our worship and understanding of the gospel.

    And so I propose a third motion for General Synod – a proposal for a southern hemisphere lectionary, which:
    1)Honours the RCL
    2)Honours the (Northern Hemisphere) seasonal context of the gospel story
    3)Includes all scripture (honouring Anglicanism’s Reformation legacy (and population))
    4)Relates to the seasonal context of the Southern hemisphere

    If this means celebrating Christmas and Easter twice a year, then so be it! After all, who hasn’t been to a midwinter Christmas?!

    1. Thanks, Allan (A.J. Chesswas), for your contribution. And I wish you well with your project – IMO the best is to get it up on the web with clickable links to the actual readings, and next to get an app for it. I’m not sure if General Synod has a place in your venture – but that’s, of course, completely up to you. I would have to research if they have had any comments on which lectionary is being used. RCL is a formulary of our church, so that is a General Synod issue – the other lectionaries being used are not. Have you examined any other lectionaries (eg the 1922 one revised in 1928) or systems online? The beauty of the system of this post is it’s here, it’s online, it’s simple, it’s prayerful, it’s doable by anyone.

      I’m not needing Easter (etc.) to be moved in the Southern Hemisphere. I think it is powerfully symbolic of the counter-cultural proclamation of Christianity to be proclaiming the gospel of resurrection in the autumn.

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