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For non-Christians or anybody who hasn't read it and wants to read the whole Bible to decide once and for all
on August 27, 2009
It seems that most of the other reviews for this Bible were written by people who are already Christians and who have many years of experience reading the Bible, so I thought I would write one from my perspective also. I am not a Christian (at this point anyway) and I recently ordered this Bible because I decided it was time I actually made an effort to read it to decide for myself once and for all.
I have spent much of my life wondering whether any of Christianity's teachings were true or just wishful thinking, and perhaps also a good sales job perpetuated by ancient people with an agenda. But it's quite easy to have an uneducated opinion about something you vaguely know about but haven't actually read! So, I decided to actually start putting forth an effort to read the actual Bible, the whole thing, from beginning to end. I hoped that this exercise would put the issue to rest in my life and I would be able to decide once and for all what I thought about Christianity.
I ordered this Bible because the concept intrigued me - read the whole Bible in one year! A good friend of mine told me about the NLT translation and how great it was, so I ordered that version. I also ordered a "regular" NLT Study Bible that has a lot more notes and explanations about everything - introductions to the different parts and things like that.
I received this One Year Bible in August, and when I opened it up, I randomly flipped through and saw that there was a scheduled reading for each day. So I turned to the page for that date in August and started reading. I read the entry for that day. Then I skipped a few days, and finally got around to getting caught up on my reading. I had forgotten what that first day's reading was about, so I reviewed it a little, and then read the several days' worth of passages to get caught up to the present day. That's when I realized that the story continued from day to day!
This may sound silly to someone who knows the Bible well, but maybe it will make sense to someone like me who doesn't. I had thought that the people who developed this particular Bible reading method maybe had chopped the Bible up into various "pieces" which took up the right amount of time to read, but I hadn't realized that if you start reading this Bible on January 1 of a given year, you will start everything at the natural beginning. And if you happen to start reading it in August, you will be picking the book up in the very middle and it won't make much sense. It will be like picking up any other book and starting to read it in the middle.
Like others have said in their reviews, each day's scheduled reading includes some passages from the Old Testament, some from the New Testament, and then a few Psalms and Proverbs too. If you look at the January 1st entry, you'll see that the Old Testament reading starts with Genesis 1:1 (the beginning of the Old Testament), and the New Testament reading starts with Matthew 1:1 (the beginning of the New Testament). So if you start on January 1st, you'll start reading the beginning of the Old and the beginning of the New simultaneously, a little each day.
Well, by getting the book in August and starting to read the August entries, I was plopped down in the middle of the book of Job for the Old Testament and Corinthians for the New. So when I started reading, it all seemed very random in nature. I began to wonder if a bunch of random "pieces" of the Bible put together in some unknown sequence would have enough of an overall thread to teach me anything. But when I read several days' worth at one sitting, it dawned on me that yesterday's Job readings continued with today's Job readings and the same with Corinthians. I had an aha moment!
So I turned to the January 1st entry and saw that it began with Genesis as you might expect. Like I said, this may sound silly to someone who knows the Bible well (they might have immediately thought "what am I doing deep in the book of Job on the first day of reading?"), but I didn't know any better so I just kept reading.
So I have a suggestion for people like me who want to read the Bible for the first time ever and who don't happen to get it in their eager little hands until well after January 1 of a given year. The day you start reading it, just start at the beginning of the book as though it were January 1. That way, your readings will be in their proper sequence. I suppose the developers of this book could have titled the daily scheduled readings "Day 1" and "Day 2", etc., instead of "January 1" and "January 2" so people could start reading on any day of the year, but since they didn't do that, I think it would be helpful to just pretend they are titled that way and start reading on January 1 regardless of what date you actually start reading it. Another idea is to get this or give it as a Christmas present! That would make starting on January 1 very easy.
I also ordered a regular NLT Study Bible because I figured I should have one of those too. The One Year Bible is not a Study Bible, so there is a minimal amount of footnotes and no study explanations or background information (at least as far as I can see so far). It is strictly a Bible meant for daily reading (no disappointment there - it doesn't claim to be a Study Bible). If someone really wants to read the Bible for the first time, I would suggest they also get a Study Bible version for more in-depth understanding of what they are reading about.
Having said all that, I really like this Bible very much. I would have given it 5 stars but for some reason, the Amazon screen won't let me give more than 4 stars. But really, I have no complaint with it at all. I love the NLT translation. I vaguely remember the King James version from my youth with all the thee's and thou's and this is a HUGE improvement. It makes the Bible actually readable and comprehensible, and at the same time, it is my understanding that there is a ton of scholarly research behind it. So it's easy to read but not at the expense of being an accurate translation. I realize there are all sorts of other readable translations that were made prior to the NLT, but since I'm reading the Bible now for the first time, I decided to use this very recent translation that also had a good reputation for seriousness and accuracy.
And I really like the read-it-in-one-year concept with scheduled daily passages. Just start reading as though today is January 1, and things will make more sense. And if you can, it will be helpful to also refer to a Study Bible to occasionally get more background and explanation. But I really think having this One Year Bible will encourage me to keep up with it, since the passages aren't very long each day, and you think "surely I can read this for 10 or 15 minutes every day". So whoever thought of the concept had a really great idea, it seems to me. Definitely worth the money so far.