I know, there are technically 66 books in the Bible, but it is also one complete book by itself. For almost a thousand years, only the rich or well-educated could read the Bible, because the only translations available were in Latin. You’d think every Christian would have read the whole Bible at least once. Take a poll at your next Bible Study or Youth Group meeting; I’d be obliged to hear the result in the commentary section.
It’s a family tradition for us to go through the whole Bible in a year; four chapters a day, six days a week, gets you done two weeks before New Year’s Eve. You can get done on New Year’s Eve with three chapters of the Old Testament a day and five on New Testament chapters on Sunday. There are many published “daily reading” plans that you can go by as well; most Bibles have at least one in the back somewhere. Doing this every year has been really influential in my spiritual growth; I’m much more familiar with scripture now than I was five years ago. While one should certainly take time to deeply study the individual books, a general familiarity with the Bible is within the grasp of every Christian. Everyone, eventually, comes across someone who is in error about Biblical teachings; being familiar with the Bible can help you recognize, if only subconsciously, that they are wrong. You may not know why, but you can know where to go for answers.
Some fun Bible facts:
* The first legally owned English Bible was in England, and belonged to Anne Boleyn. While legend has it that William Tyndale sent it to her, more likely one of his business associates named Robert Pyle gave the Bible to her as a thank-you for intervening on his behalf with the English merchants (who acted a lot like a union, and would have refused him entry into the markets had he not established a lack of royal disfavor).
* Many people I know carry one of those pocket New-Testament-and-Psalms editions of the Bible. While I have every respect for them, it is worth noting that at the time most of the New Testament was written, “the scriptures” meant the only extant written portion of God’s word, the Old Testament. The first compiled list of the books we now call the “New Testament” came out after 300 AD.
* Most Bibles are a particular “version” or translation; this is merely a designation to differentiate between various editions, and is usually in acronym form. NKJ, KJ, ESV, RG, etc.
* By 400 A.D., the Bible (or portions of it as we know today) had been translated into 500 languages. By 500 A.D., in Europe, it was available only in one language; Latin. A thousand years later, Erasmus couldn’t even buy a Greek translation; he had to borrow Greek texts from all his scholar friends.
* The first ‘legal’ translation of the Bible into the local language after 500 A.D. was by Martin Luther, who did so under the protection of his local prince, Duke Fredrick the Wise, and the intense disapproval of both his emperor Charles V and the Pope (who technically was over both Duke and Emperor).
There are several benefits to reading the entirety of God’s word “from in to amen” on a regular basis. If you haven’t made this a New Year’s Resolution yet, I encourage you to do so. Even if you do not believe it is the inspired word of God, read the Bible anyway; it’s not a collection of myths, but real history that actually happened.