Other than evangelism, there is probably nothing on the discipleship to-do list that causes more angst than daily Bible reading. All kinds of people who are good, faithful Christians struggle mightily to stick to a reading schedule. At Jackson Heights, we’re about to switch over to a new program at the beginning of the new year, so January 1 will be a great time for brethren who haven’t been able to make it work to make another attempt. Reading the Bible daily makes for a great New Year’s resolution!
However, brethren who have had trouble in the past are well advised to think about what they can do differently. There are a number of different strategies we can try to get that daily reading in, but one that Christians are prone to overlook is choosing the right Bible.
To most, a Bible is a Bible is a Bible. If it’s got 66 books in it, it’s essentially the same as all the other Bibles out there. In reality, though, saying that a Bible is a Bible is a Bible is about like saying that a spoon is a spoon is a spoon. In both cases, different types have different uses. A slotted spoon is great for serving vegetables, but it’s not so good for eating your soup!
In the same way, some Bibles are much better suited for reading than others. In fact, in my experience, daily reading demands more from a Bible than any other use. I spent several years writing Bible reviews, and in the course of doing that, I used dozens of different Bibles both for preaching and for reading.
I concluded that if you’re preaching, teaching, or following along in the pew, nearly any Bible will do. However, most Bibles don’t make good readers. I suspect that many brethren who have failed to complete a reading program failed because they were using the wrong kind of Bible.
I want to spend several posts, then, talking about the characteristics of a good reading Bible. Just as reading through the Bible makes for a great New Year’s resolution, a nice reading Bible makes for a great Christmas gift! Here’s a summary of what I’ll be saying in greater detail later on:
Price: Pay what you must to get a Bible you love.
Paper or Plastic: Unless a paper Bible doesn’t work for you for some reason, try using one for readings.
Translation: The translation you normally use is a good choice here. Otherwise, translations that aren’t great for close study (NIV, NLT, etc.) often make for good reading Bibles.
Cover: Get a Bible with a cover that makes you happy when you hold it.
Binding: ALWAYS buy Bibles with sewn bindings!
Paper: If show-through in Bible paper bothers you, you may need to try wide-margin or journaling Bibles as readers. They generally have thicker, more opaque paper.
Setting: Bibles with a paragraphed rather than a verse-by-verse setting give you a better sense of the overall flow of the text.
Lettering: Look for a reading Bible that does not have the words of Christ printed in red.
Print: Choose a Bible with print large enough for you to read without straining.
If you have questions about any of the above, tune in tomorrow and for the rest of the week!