The Daybook has been a good labor for me, revisiting these texts and some of the commentaries I drafted way back when I first compiled the selection. Yet even in a one-year sweep, there’s much we missed. The Ten Commandments, for starters.
Anyone who wishes to continue can choose among several directions from here. At some point, the Psalms are inescapable; a cassette tape of Jan Hoffman’s Bible Half-Hour talks at the 1993 New England Yearly Meeting provide an intimate and emotionally moving companion in this journey. Or working through Isaiah or the Sermon on the Mount could be fine pursuits.
As an accompanying text, selections from Howard Thurman would be refreshing and stimulating.
I must, however, also admit a feeling of “what was I thinking?” after undertaking this project. The work became far more time-consuming than I’d anticipated, what, with 730 postings in all when you include the photo series. So now it’s in your hands.
In the Second Month 1994 Concord Friends Meeting Newsletter, Betsey Cazden related some of her experiences in “How To Read the Bible.” I’ll let her reflections speak once more. Here they are:
Many Friends do not read the Bible regularly because they have found it either difficult or largely irrelevant to their seeking for God/Truth. It remains, however, the common base for the Judeo-Christian community’s relationship with God over four millennia. In order to understand George Fox and other early Quakers, or any other religious literature, one must be familiar with Biblical language and images. Beyond that, it can lead us into a deeper relationship with God.
I have found several helps to daily Bible reading. First, get a readable translation, of which there are now many. For my regular reading I like the New Revised Standard Version (NRVS), which retains much of the King James but is more accurate and readable. I use the New Oxford Annotated Edition, which contains helpful historical and textual notes.
Second, consider one of the programs that leads you through the entire Bible in a year. I don’t do this every year; I have done it twice in the past twenty years and always find it helpful. There are valuable parts of the Bible that don’t show up in selective reading, and one gets a better sense of the whole span of faith history and how the individual books are linked to the whole. Don’t just start at Genesis 1:1; you’re likely to get bogged down in Leviticus or turned off by the Philistine wars. … Look for the paperback “One Year Bible,” which gives you 365 chunks containing some Old Testament, a Psalm, a bit of proverbs, and some New Testament. Alternately, some denominations have a Common Lectionary that I believe takes you through the entire Bible in a three-year cycle. …
Third, as you read, especially the passages that initially strike you as jarring or violent, think about why they’re there. (Fox urged us to read in the same Spirit which gave them forth.) Why did the author want to tell this story, and tell it this way? What is he (or she, but probably he) trying to say about God, about people’s relationship with God, about how the religious community should live? And why did the people who compiled the Bible, and determined what was “canon” and what wasn’t, feel this section should be included? What is there that resonates in our own experience?