In 2008 I graduated from St.Andrews University with a slightly random degree in Biblical Studies and French. I had spent four years studying several different books of the Bible including their history, authorship, historical and cultural contexts and linguistic challenges that exist with them.
While much of the vast knowledge I had once acquired has now faded, on a personal level I had developed an understanding of the importance of reading the Bible as a whole book – as a ‘canon’ (from the original Greek meaning ‘measuring stick’). This was never directly taught in my course but developed naturally over the period of my degree.
Just as I had learnt the importance of various factors on the study of biblical literature so I learnt the value of reading scripture in light of the rest of the canon. The importance of reading scripture within scripture could not be underestimated.
A couple of years after graduating, I was introduced to Professor Horner’s 10 chapter reading plan where the entire Bible is split into ten main sections and a chapter is read from each daily. Because the sections are not all equal, each time a whole cycle of the Bible is completed, a unique grouping of chapters is created.
Aside from the sheer volume of scripture that is being taken in each day, the reading plan allows the reader to see over-arching themes and principles across the entire Bible. This really helped me to see the interweaving of these themes throughout the canon and to make links between different books, passages and the Old and New Testaments. There is something very powerful about, for example, reading David’s struggles with King Saul in the book of Kings and then a chapter on to be reading David’s own plea to God in the Psalms.
Or take the theme of marriage as a powerful example taking centre stage across the whole canon – it’s addressed in many key verses throughout scripture but its theme permeates the entire Bible from the Garden of Eden in Genesis to The Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Revelation. There is the spiritual Wedding to Israel in Exodus, Hosea’s sacrificial marriage to Gomer, Paul’s exhortations to the Corinthian and Ephesian Churches and, ultimately, Jesus as literal Bridegroom to the Church.
How much more do we see and understand when we read all of scripture and allow God’s word to speak fully?
‘His delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree, planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither.’