As you prepare for the new year, why not commit to reading the entire Bible in 2015? It’s not as hard as you might think.
The Bible contains somewhere around 775,000 words. The average adult reads 250 words per minute. That means if you read the Bible for just 30 minutes per day, you’ll get through the whole thing in a year—three times over! (If you read just 10 minutes a day, you’ll still make it through once.)
But once committing to read the whole Bible, people generally have two questions: which translation should I use, and how should I do it?
Which Translation to Use?
Regarding translations, there’s a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure your Bible is complete. Protestant translations (NIV, ESV, TEV, etc.) do not contain the seven deuterocanonical books that the Catholic Church accepts as Sacred Scripture. You’re going to want those books in your Bible (they’re really good!).
Second, make sure your Bible translation strikes a good balance between precision and readability. For serious study, avoid paraphrase translations (such as The Message). Instead, go with a more literal (i.e., “word for word”) translation that is still easy to read. Here are my personal recommendations, in order. All of them have been officially approved by the Church for personal study:
New American Bible – Revised Edition (NAB-RE) – This is the translation used during the Mass, although it does contain some questionably translated passages and some even worse footnotes. But if you want to sync your reading to the liturgy, this is your best choice.
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) – Solid translation although it contains “gender inclusive language”, changing “brothers” to “friends” or “brothers and sisters” and removing instances of the divine “He”.
Douay-Rheims Version (DR) – This was the standard Bible for English-speaking Catholics from 1609 until the twentieth century. It’s a trusted version but some readers find it turgid, similar to the King James Version.
There are also Bibles on the market that are specifically designed for a one-year reading plan. For instance, there’s the My Daily Catholic Bible (NAB) which divides all of Scripture into 365 segments, one for each day of the year. It features two small, manageable readings for each day, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament, along with an insightful quote from a saint for every day. The best part is that the readings are all grouped together sequentially so you don’t have to flip back and forth each day between the Old and New Testaments.
There’s also the Catholic One Year Biblewhich uses the Catholic Living Bible translation, a less-then-literal translation but one that many readers find looser and more accessible.
In the end, what matters most is that you find a translation you’ll actually read. If you pick one that is cumbersome or inaccessible, then it doesn’t really matter whether it’s accurate. Your best bet is to sample a few translations online and then choose one you feel most comfortable reading each day.
What’s the Best Plan?
Similar to the translation question, the answer here is whichever plan you’ll follow. Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of starting with Genesis and trying to plow straight through to Revelation, linearly. The problem is that some of the early Old Testament books are meticulous, such as Leviticus and Numbers, and most people get bogged down, wiping out before finishing even half the Old Testament.
What’s a better strategy? To follow a carefully designed reading plan that will take you through the right books, at the right pace. Some of these plans alternate between Old and New Testament readings, while some intersperse the Psalms throughout the year to add variation.
Here are some of my favorite Bible reading plans for Catholics. Choose your Bible, then choose one of the plans below and make 2015 the year you finally finish the whole Bible:
Read the Bible and the Catechism in a Year – This plan, created by the Coming Home Network, is definitely my favorite. Not only does it take you through the whole Bible (the Catholic Bible, including the deutero-canonical books), but it also gets you through the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church. Each day you read about three chapters of Scripture and fifteen paragraphs of the Catechism. You’ll knock out both assignments in about thirty minutes each day.
Welcome to the Blog! I am a Salesian of Don Bosco and was ordained to the priesthood on August 26, 2000. I hope this site is a place of interest for you where you will find ideas and information on the Catholic faith and on Salesianity.