Friday, 26 December 2008

D.A. Carson on Reading the Bible in a Year

D.A. Carson, For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word (Leicester: IVP, 1998), 25 + 365pp., ISBN 9780851115894, and For the Love of God Volume Two: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word (Leicester: IVP, 1998), 384pp., ISBN 9780851115894.

[The following post is a lightly revised version of a review of the first volume above, first published on London School of Theology’s website in December 1998.]

In line with his concern to encourage reading of the Bible, both for himself, and the members of his congregation, Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-43), a Scottish minister, prepared a scheme to take readers through the Bible in a year: the New Testament and Psalms twice, and the rest of the Old Testament once.

The scheme has been only slightly modified by Don Carson for these reading companions. Here’s how it works: each day lists four readings; all four readings will take you through the scheme in a year; if you want to take longer over it, you can take the first two readings one year, and the second two for the second year.

The readings are drawn from various places in Scripture. 1 January begins with Genesis 1, Matthew 1, Ezra 1, and Acts 1 (all four chapters depicting a new beginning); but on 11 April, for instance, readers will find themselves in Leviticus 15, Psalm 18, Proverbs 29, and 2 Thessalonians 3. The combination of chapters means that more than one part of the Bible is being read at any one time – the mixture of which helps readers get through some of the more ‘obscure’ or ‘difficult’ sections (four chapters of genealogy in 1 Chronicles is not easy for most normal people…).

Carson offers a page of comments for each day – normally on one of the first two readings in the first volume and one of the third and fourth readings in the second volume. Part of the intention of the comments is to show how the individual readings fit into the larger plan of God’s purpose working itself out in salvation history, to set individual themes and texts against the broader biblical ‘story’, and so draw together links between the various parts of Scripture.

As Carson himself says, to read only the comments would be to defeat the purpose of the volume… which is to get people to read the Bible rather than the book! Even so, the reflections are typically apposite and helpfully concise.

1 comment:

brett jordan said...

i enjoyed my year spent with the first book, although there were times when having to jump from book to book was distracting... carson's comments steered a good line between in-depth exegesis and 'blessed thoughts'