Bible Reading Plans

Reading Scripture

Reading Holy Scripture is vital to a Christian’s spiritual health. The Anglican Breviary reads through selected portions of Scripture according to Temporal and Sanctoral cycles of the year. Enough Scripture is read to gain a basic understanding of the message of the Bible and to shape a scriptural mind, yet the Breviary does not read through the Bible as a whole. In other words: the Breviary presumes but does not provide a sustained reading of the entire Bible.

A Variety of Plans

Several plans are floating around on the internet and there are options in book format as well. As a basic rule it seems to me that St. John Cassian provides some good guidance here. It would be good to read one or two chapters of the Old Testament (daily) on weekdays and to read one or two chapters of the New Testament in the weekend. This will be slow going. But you will be reading selected portions of Scripture while praying the Breviary and, besides, the amount of Scripture you read is not what really matters. It is the amount you have read with understanding that matters. To do this it is best to read slowly and with a commentary to help out with questions as they come up.

Many plans are aimed at reading the Protestant edition of the Bible in one year. This means that the Deutero Canonical books (or Apocrypha) are unhelpfully ignored. An Anglican reading ought to include them. For this purpose Roman Catholic reading plans could be used.

Translations

The translation used matters too. The Anglican Breviary mostly uses the King James translation of the Bible. This means that this version is best used together with the Anglican Breviary. However there are times that the Anglican Breviary deviates from the King James version and favours the Douay Rheims or its own translation of the Vulgate. This is in perfect harmony with the biblical reading tradition of the West.

The older translations are not always easy to understand. Outside the liturgy different translations of the Bible can profitably be consulted. The only “Bible editions” that are best avoided are “paraphrases” of the Bible such as The Message (translated by Eugene Peterson) or the Good News Translation. Though not strictly speaking paraphrases these editions of the Bible are really more interpretations of the Bible than simply translations of the Bible. Comparing different translations could be a good exercise!

Structured Plans

For those who need them there are plans that can help in reading through the Bible in a year, two years, or three years. The website Bible Gateway provides several kinds of reading plans with a variety of available translations. It must be noted that these plans are based on the Protestant Canon of the Bible. A one year plan for the Catholic/Anglican Bible can be dowlnoaded here (click for the pdf).

Lectio Divina

This is an ancient way of engaging Scripture. It is important to realize that in lectio divina the amount of text covered is not set. As Fr. Luke Dysinger OSB says: “It makes no difference which text is chosen, as long as one has no set goal of “covering” a certain amount of text: the amount of text “covered” is in God’s hands, not yours.” Fr. Dysinger’s guidance for Lectio Divina can be found here: click link.

Fr. Gregory Wassen