Do you ever find it challenging to find the deeper meaning in scripture?
People express confusion about trying to read scripture straight through, particularly the Old Testament. In the Christian tradition, books in the Hebrew Bible were reordered to enhance readings believed to prophecy Jesus. The problem with this is that the books in the Hebrew Bible are arranged in chronological order. Changing the order of the books sometimes scrambles the history and the continuity of the story.
Our Bible study group has discussed the challenges related to home Bible reading. Such honesty not only affirms others' experiences, but also creates new and meaningful learning opportunities. We have discussed how challenging it can be to find connections between New Testament scriptures and Old Testament references. Making these connections can greatly enhance our understanding of the New Testament, and even correct misunderstandings.
A thematic Bible Study offers scripture related to the great themes and stories of the Bible.
Member Linda Seger saw a need arising in these discussions and formulated her own challenge to meet it: develop a thematic home Bible study, focusing on the great stories and integrating important scriptures and themes. She is well equipped to take on this challenge, being both seminary trained and a published author of books relating to spirituality (see Linda's bio and books by clicking here).
Below, Linda provides a month-long installment of Bible reading/contemplation. The themes are broken up by weeks, exposing readers to the great themes and great stories of the Bible. She includes enough Bible readings to do one-a-day or all-at-once. It’s a great exercise to reread a passage several days in a row.
If you want to mark your Bibles, she suggests the following system:
a question mark (?) in your Bible for anything you didn't understand or might want to research further
an arrow for any verse that convicted you in some way
an exclamation mark (!) for a verse you want to remember or that particularly struck you
an underline for a phrase or verse you might want to remember or memorize.
The Bible Study
WEEK ONE: In The Beginning/Creation Stories
· Genesis 1:1 –2:1-4
· Proverbs 8: 22-31: note that Wisdom is with God, helping God create and that
Wisdom/Sophia (in Greek) is female.
· Psalms: 8, 33, 65, 104
· Job 38:4 - 42:1-6: God describes his creation. Perhaps divide this into 2+ days.
· John 1:1-18 (Christ as the Logos)
WEEK TWO: Along Came People
There are 2-3 creation stories in Genesis, depending how you count:
· The first is Genesis 1:26 - 2:4
· The second is Genesis 2:4-25: consider looking up Michelangelo's painting
from the Sistine Chapel, The Creation of Adam.
· Psalms: see creation Psalms from Week One
· The Garden of Eden story starts in Genesis: you might want to divide up
- Genesis 2:7-14: consider looking up a map of this area.
- Genesis 2:15-25
WEEK THREE: Sin and Redemption: the Stories of “The Fall”
· Genesis 3:1-24: The Story of “The Fall,” Adam and Eve’s “Original Sin” There are a
number of great paintings about The Fall in case you want to do an internet search.
· Genesis 4:1 – 16 If you want to read a great novel that takes this story into
contemporary life, East of Eden by John Steinbeck explores the Cain and Abel story.
· Psalms: 25, 32, 51, 73, 85, 103
In Christian Theology, you can't really explore sin without exploring the great themes of Following Christ, Redemption, and Grace. These next readings are about the introduction of Jesus and his ministry and his importance. Below are some sections from Paul’s Epistles and the Gospels that introduce Jesus as the redeemer of the Fall and Human sin. We are saved from Adam and Eve’s “Original Sin” and the Mark of Cain through Christ.
· Paul’s Letter to the Romans 5:1-21
· Paul’s First Letter ot the Corinthians 15:1-10; 20-22
· John 1:19 - 51
· Matthew 3-4:22
· Mark 1:1-20
· Luke 3:1-4:13
WEEK FOUR: Great Stories
It might be interesting to start exploring some of the great stories in both the Old Testament and in the New Testament which you have heard and probably read. By focusing in on them, you might have a better idea of where they fall in the overall movement of the Old Testament and the New Testament. We can skip all the chronologies and if you really want to read about Methuselah, that's in Genesis 5:25.
The next big story in the Bible is the story of The Flood. This comes as a result of people becoming very corrupt. That story begins in Genesis 6:5 and goes through Genesis 9:28.
You might want to just read some of the well-known stories from the beginning of Jesus’ life and ministry. These stories are not always in the same order in all the Gospels, but here are some that you have undoubtedly heard of and probably read, starting with some Temple Stories.
· The story of Jesus in the Temple - first as a baby: Luke 2: 22-38
(See Genesis 17:1-15 for the significance of circumcision)
· Jesus as a 12-year-old in the Temple: Luke 2:41-50;
· Jesus Cleansing the Temple (Note: this event occurs in different chronologies in
different Gospels but it does occur in all the Gospels.)
· Matthew 21:12-13
· Mark 11:15-19
· Luke 19:45-48
· John 2:13-25
A Year of Study
Linda hopes to provide regular installments of Bible reading and contemplation. If there is interest, she plans to set this up as a year-long study. While you may not read the entire Bible in a year this way, you will be exposed to many of the great themes and stories of the Bible. Please let us know if you want more of these thematic bible studies!