Over the years, I have had quite a bit of religious exposure from a number of traditions. I was born and raised Jewish, though I am mostly non-practicing and non-believing at the moment. I did a liberal arts degree with a specialization in medieval history, which has given me more knowledge of the development of Christian theology than most Christians. I have done a great deal of reading about pagan, wiccan, and other new religious traditions.
And yet, despite this long tradition of education, I have never actually read the Bible from start to finish.
Certainly, I've read large portions of it. I've read entire books and sections of many more. But there is still much of the Bible I have never read, and this seems to me to form a gap in my religious education. So I have decided to read the entire book, both Old Testament and New. And, because I am a shameless self-promoter, I have decided to put my thoughts and reflections online for the world to see.
In terms of my own perspective, I do not believe in the literal truth of Jewish or Christian scriptures. I don't even believe in their figurative truth. But I do acknowledge them as among the most, if not the most, influential books of western history. This is the angle I'm approaching the texts from.
My thoughts will range. I will discuss the stories, their impact on society, their connection to current religious institutions, and anything else that seems interesting to me... though probably not all within a single post. I will generally not be using references or commentary (eg: the Hebrew Talmud, the Catholic Gloss, modern study guides), though I may when the mood strikes me. If I use references, I'll post links to the sources I used.
One final thought: I'm reading the Bible in English. My Hebrew skills are no longer good enough to read the Old Testament in the original, and my Aramaic and Greek skills are non-existent. I'll mostly be using the King James Version (KJV), because it seems to be the version everyone knows. Personally, I find it a bit stilted and archaic. When the KJV is particularly difficult to understand, I'll supplement it with the New International Version (NIV).
I will be using Back to the Bible's "Beginning to End" study guide to direct my progress. However, I will be taking it at 1/3 the speed. That is, I will post short essays every three days, and each essay will deal with the next selection from Back to the Bible. For those of you who are counting, this means I'll be at this project for three years, and only reaching the New Testament midway through year three. But that's okay: I'm patient. I'll post a link to the relevant passages with each entry. On days when I'm not posting an essay, I'll post a "breadcrumb": some small reflection, thought, question, or random fact relating to the Bible readings.
Feel free to follow along!