Perhaps like a few of you, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to read the Bible through in 2015. I’ve read the Bible in its entirety, but I’ve never done it all in one year. My plan consists of reading 3-4 chapters of the Old Testament and 1 chapter of the New Testament each day. I’m only on day 8 of this project and I am increasingly convinced of one thing: the Bible is REALLY weird.
Let me say that I am an academically trained theologian. I have more than 30 graduate credits in biblical studies. I have taken classes in biblical interpretation, biblical history, and multiples classes on biblical languages, including 2 years of Hebrew and 3 years of Greek. I am not only a student of the Bible, but I have taught the Bible in a collegiate environment for over 20 years. All of that knowledge and experience with the Bible, and I still think the Bible is weird.
Here are just a few examples from my reading in Genesis so far this year:
- Genesis 1: Both light and plants are created before the sun is created. There are also mornings and evenings before the sun exists. (I’m no scientist, but I can’t figure out how this works.)
- Genesis 3: A talking animal tempts Eve. (And this is not a hallucination.)
- Genesis 5: People live to hundreds of years of age and father children at those ages. (I’m now too exhausted to handle a newborn and I’m only in my 40s.)
- Genesis 6: The “sons of God” mate with human wives and have offspring who are giants. (I don’t even know what to say about this.)
- Genesis 6-9: Noah gathers 2 of every living thing into a boat to survive a flood. (Imagine the smell!)
- Genesis 17: God tells Abram to cut off his foreskin. (If you don’t think this is weird, then you should Google “foreskin.” On second thought, don’t do that.)
I have only read about 25 pages so far, and yet I can’t fully explain half of what I’m reading. I’m a scholar, so I’m familiar with literary devices, metaphors, and symbols. I know about context and history and imagery. I get languages and translation. But I must still be honest – the Bible is weird.
And I like it that way. I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I read it carefully and intentionally, as if I’m reading it for the first time, I am fascinated. Sometimes it’s a page-turner filled with intrigue and scandal. Sometimes it can be rather boring with long lists of names or long-lost locations or ancient nations. Sometimes it can be spiritually revolutionary. Sometimes I read it, and sometimes it reads me. And always it guides me, willingly or not, toward the path intended by the One who inspired it. So I will continue to read this weird book, hopefully in its entirety in 2015. Why don’t you give it a try?