Scripture Reading Strategies

I’m excited about all the great content we’ve created for our Journey Through John. If you’re not signed up to participate, I’d encourage you to! Even though the Gospels are lengthy, for anyone who’s a regular Bible reader, it would be easy to reach the end of John long before the series catches up to where you are in the reading. This provides us with an opportunity to approach the reading in some ways you may not have tried before. I wanted to share some optional strategies for how to read Scripture.

A Scheduled Pace

I’ve provided the weekly suggested reading to accompany the Journey Through John study. It moves through at one chapter per week.

Many people are looking to read the entire Bible in a year. In fact, there are incredible resources online with a variety of strategies to help you accomplish this. Have a look at this list of daily Bible reading plans.

While for my purposes, I’m glad to have you focus especially on John early on, there are a lot of ways to plan on covering a large portion of Scripture. For me, the downside of these is that I can get so caught up in meeting deadlines and schedule goals that I might not focus as much on actually hearing the text. Many people love this approach, and it’s certainly an admirable thing to practice.

A Regular Trot

Over the last year, I have been reading through David Bently Hart’s translation of the New Testament. I’m thoroughly enjoying its fresh approach and sometimes striking vocabulary. Hart’s footnotes about some textual issues are well worth the read, as well.

But rather than move through on a specific schedule, I have instead set up a scenario that keeps me reading regularly, though not with any schedule pressure. I have this Bible, along with a favorite bookmark, no-bleed marking pen, and a ruler for underlining accurately, right on top of my study desk at home. Every time I sit at my desk to study, before I let myself work on anything else, I begin by reading at least a chapter of this Bible, underlining and writing comments about meaningful texts. Sometimes I read only a chapter. Sometimes I read whole books. It’s just a matter of what I’m feeling that particular day.

The down side is that you don’t know exactly when you’ll finish. The up side is that whatever I’m reading, I’m genuinely paying attention to.

Repetition for Formation

Another approach of which I’m fond is to try reading the same text repeatedly. You could do this in a couple of ways:

  • For each week, read the suggested chapter in John over and over again. Don’t move on to the next chapter. Instead, read it again. In this approach, it’s surprising how encountering the same text on different days will give you different insights. Your life isn’t static, and so you won’t be quite the same person the next time you look. I use this method a lot for sermon preparation. It’s useful for making sure you genuinely hear the text.
  • For each week, read the suggested chapter in John once, and then work on reading the Gospel through. You could simply have an ongoing reading of the whole Gospel, pausing to read the specific chapter each week, but moving through the Gospel at your own pace. By the end of the study you will have read it numerous times, most likely.
  • Read the Gospel through continually. Rather than trying to focus on any particular chapter, just read the whole Gospel. When you finish, whether it’s in a couple of days or a few weeks, simply go back to chapter one and start reading again. This method is useful for helping you to grasp the overall flow of the story, and to be informed as you try to interpret specific passages. What John does with Light/Dark in one passage might be really informative for how you read another passage, for example.

Those are a few ideas to get you started.

How do you like to approach Scripture?
Do you follow a particular plan?

I’d love to hear from you!

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