Friday, January 25, 2013

Chunks of Poetry

I said in an earlier post in this series that the poetry in the Bible is meant to be read meditatively, thus slowly. So how does that fit into a "reading the Bible in chunks" approach? I stick with my earlier statement, but I also think that there is value to reading these books in large chunks. For one thing, the reader can avoid getting lost in the details. I think this is particularly important with the Book of Job. It is more important to get the overall sense of the statements than it is to try to figure out all the details. In addition, Job is a difficult book to translate because of its very high percentage of unusual words. So, with Job, pay attention to the larger things, and don't sweat the small stuff. With Psalms and Proverbs, the point of reading in chunks is to see the main themes that play out in the book. What are the chief concerns? You will probably get an entirely different sense of these books reading them this way.

So here are my suggestions for reading Job, Psalms, and Proverbs in chunks.

Job is divided into a prologue (chs 1-2), a series of dialogues (chs 3-26), a series of  monologues (chs 27-41), and an epilogue (ch 42).

Job 1-14 This is the prologue and the first round of dialogue. It may be pushing the half-hour limit, but not by much.
Job 15-26 The second and third rounds of dialogue
Job 27-37 The first two rounds of monologue (Job and Elihu)
Job 38-42 God's monologue and the epilogue

Psalms. This could be done by simply reading 25 psalms per day, since it takes about three hours to read through the Psalms. However, that leaves the fifth day's reading to be extraordinarily long (remember Psalm 119?). So here's my suggestion.

Psalms 1-29
Psalms 30-50
Psalms 51-74
Psalms 75-98
Psalms 99-118
Psalms 119-150

Proverbs. Should be able to do in two 30-minute readings,
Proverbs 1-17
Proverbs 18-31
(The later chapters in Proverbs tend to be longer than the earlier ones.)

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