Most Bible reading plans schedule daily passages, each of which takes about the same amount of time from each busy day. Now, in a new book, Woodrow Kroll commends a different approach. Kroll, president of Back to the Bible ministry, says that in order to get the most out of the Scriptures, we should read an entire book at one sitting.
Sound crazy? Maybe, at first. But think about it a little while, and it begins to make sense. In Read Your Bible One Book at a Time (Vine Books, 2002), Kroll gives the reader two things -- a rationale for his proposal, and assistance for implementing it.
"Do you remember receiving letters from friends back home when you were away?" Kroll writes. "When you received your letter from a friend or sweetheart, what did you do with it? You read it, of course." He then points out that most of the New Testament books are actually letters written to Christian friends and peers.
He says this approach provides continuity for the reader, and it helps us grasp the thread of truth that runs through a book better than if we read the book at several sittings stretched out over days or weeks. "Reading a Bible book in one sitting reduces the confusion and helps you takequantum leaps in biblical understanding," he says.
Are you thinking, "Why, Dr. Kroll, some books of the Bible are just too long to read at one sitting!" He's got an answer -- and it's probably not what we want to hear.
He writes, "Last Christmas I kicked off my shoes, eased back into my lounge chair, and watched three classics that air every Christmas season: It's a Wonderful Life (131 minutes), Miracle on 34th Street (94 minutes) and A Christmas Story (94 minutes). ... I watched these movies from start to finish, not just a few minutes at a time...."
He then quickly points out that only 12 of the Bible's 66 books take longer to read than it takes to watch Wonderful Life. Furthermore, he says, "Nearly 40 of the books of the Bible can be read in an hour or less. Half the books of the Bible can be read in less than 30 minutes. And 26 books can be read in 15 minutes or less."
Now, what's our excuse? Might we argue, "Why, Dr. Kroll, it's just too deep. The content of the Bible is too heavy to take in so much at one sitting!" Well, he's got that covered, too.
Dr. Kroll includes many aids to help those who are willing to give his suggestion a try. A one-page, abbreviated synopsis of each book of the Bible will guide the reader in making the most of the time spent reading. Each synopsis includes writer, audience, date; an overview of the subject, scope and setting; three key elements to help in understanding; themes to look for; and reasons why we should read that particular book.
"Give each page a once-over before you begin," the author suggests, "and keep it handy as you read."
Appendices include an alphabetical listing titled "Meet the Authors," briefly introducing the reader to each biblical writer. A table gives the average reading time required for each book, and another appendix offers several plans to help the reader map out a strategy -- depending on how many days a week or how much time he can devote to reading a book.
In short, Dr. Kroll has anticipated every objection we might think of and proven every one of them lacking. His idea may be just the ticket if you're looking for a different way to approach reading your Bible in the new year.
By Randall Murphree