I’ve been humming and hawing for a while about what to take up, or give up, as a Lenten discipline. I’m not a huge one for giving up ‘naughty’ foods; it’s too easy for these fasts to become, for me, about conformity to the world’s ideas about what my body should look like, rather than about faithful engagement with God. But various disciplines I’ve taken up in previous years don’t seem to be quite the right thing this year, either.
I’ve settled on attempting to read the Bible in 40 days. I have several reasons for this, some of which I have detailed below:
- While I enjoy reading, I don’t actually do as much of it as I used to, largely because of the easier procrastinatory delights of the online world. It would be a stretch to call reading a penitential activity for me, but it will certainly be a discipline, and enough of one that I won’t feel the need to take on umpteen additional Lenten practices and then give up, overwhelmed, two weeks in.
- I’ve never read the whole Bible in sequence before. While I appreciate that the sequence and content varies from one Bible-reading faith tradition to another, I’m interested in the differences of context that will come from continuous, rather than piecemeal, reading.
- I’m almost entirely unfamiliar with the Apocryphal, or Deuterocanonical, books. I read snippets of them when they come up in the Daily Office but I don’t really have an idea of how they fit together or relate to the rest of the Biblical canon.
- I’ve never read the entire Bible before and I think I may have missed some bits. My instinct is always to study some part that I’m interested in depth, but I am certain that in doing this I miss connections. So an overview, a view from 40 000 feet if you will, might be a good idea.
- While this will require some discipline on my part, it doesn’t feel impossible. I’m a relatively quick reader, and there should be ample opportunity to catch up if I get behind now and then as I invariably will.
I’ve drawn up a reading scheme so I know roughly how much I need to read each day. I did this by grabbing the nearest Bible that had the Apocryphal books in it (it happens to be an RSV), adding up the pages between the beginning of Genesis and the end of Revelation, and dividing by 40. Feel free to copy and distribute this list if you wish.
|Sequence||Day||Read from start of||Read to end of|
|1||Ash Weds||Genesis 1||Genesis 36|
|2||Thursday||Genesis 37||Exodus 21|
|3||Friday||Exodus 22||Leviticus 14|
|4||Saturday||Leviticus 15||Numbers 17|
|Sunday (1st in Lent)||Day off||Don’t read|
|5||Monday||Numbers 18||Deuteronomy 11|
|6||Tuesday||Deuteronomy 12||Joshua 12|
|7||Wednesday||Joshua 13||Judges 21|
|8||Thursday||Ruth 1||1 Samuel 31|
|9||Friday||2 Samuel 1||1 Kings 4|
|10||Saturday||1 Kings 5||2 Kings 9|
|Sunday (2nd in Lent)||Day off||Don’t read|
|11||Monday||2 Kings 10||1 Chronicles 15|
|12||Tuesday||1 Chronicles 16||2 Chronicles 27|
|13||Wednesday||2 Chronicles 28||Nehemiah 13|
|14||Thursday||Esther 1||Job 32|
|15||Friday||Job 33||Psalm 49|
|16||Saturday||Psalm 50||Psalm 105|
|Sunday (3rd in Lent)||Day off||Don’t read|
|17||Monday||Psalm 106||Proverbs 9|
|18||Tuesday||Proverbs 10||Isaiah 1|
|19||Wednesday||Isaiah 2||Isaiah 40|
|20||Thursday||Isaiah 41||Jeremiah 4|
|21||Friday||Jeremiah 5||Jeremiah 34|
|22||Saturday||Jeremiah 35||Lamentations 7|
|Refreshment Sunday||Day off||Don’t read|
|23||Monday||Lamentations 8||Ezekiel 39|
|24||Tuesday||Ezekiel 40||Hosea 11|
|25||Wednesday||Hosea 12||Zechariah 4|
|26||Thursday||Zechariah 5||Judith 14|
|27||Friday||Judith 15||Sirach 2|
|28||Saturday||Sirach 3||Sirach 36|
|Passion Sunday||Day off||Don’t read|
|29||Monday||Sirach 37||Bel and the Dragon|
|30||Tuesday||1 Maccabees 1||2 Maccabees 3|
|31||Wednesday||2 Maccabees 4||Psalm 151|
|32||Thursday||3 Maccabees 1||2 Esdras 11|
|33||Friday||2 Esdras 12||Matthew 10|
|34||Saturday||Matthew 11||Mark 9|
|Palm Sunday||Day off||Don’t read|
|35||Monday||Mark 10||Luke 17|
|36||Tuesday||Luke 18||John 21|
|37||Wednesday||Acts 1||Acts 28|
|38||Maundy Thursday||Romans 1||2 Corinthians 13|
|39||Good Friday||Galatians 1||Hebrews 12|
|40||Holy Saturday||James 1||Revelation 22|
The order of the books in the RSV I have is thus:
OT: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
Apocrypha: Tobit, Judith, Additions to Esther, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, Additions to Daniel: Song of the Three Children; Susanna; Bel and the Dragon, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, 3 Maccabees, 2 Esdras, 4 Maccabees
NT: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation
I might, or might not, tweet about my reading using the hashtag #BibleIn40Days. Please feel free to join me!