The Aleph Blog » Blog Archive » How to Read the Whole Bible, and Survive the Experience

How to Read the Whole Bible, and Survive the Experience

This is an off-topic post for people who want to read the Bible, but have never been able to make it all of the way through. In my opinion, it is difficult to understand Western Civilization without having read the Bible. No single book, or collection of books has had such a profound effect on the cultures of Western Civilization, both positively and negatively. I.e., people react for and against what the Bible says.

I write this because I have met many people in my time who have said that they wanted to read the Bible, and started to do it, but couldn’t get through the five books of Moses. A few would tell me that they made it through the books of Moses, but could not make it through the prophets. Almost no one made it to the New Testament.

Face it, as a collection of ancient books, the Bible has a lot of different literary genres, and some are more congenial, and some less congenial to the modern mind. The Bible is an intricately woven set of books written over a 2100 (or so) year time span by 44 or so human authors. There are many themes and symbols that get visited and revisited in many different ways. Even for someone who does not want to believe the Bible as true, there is an appreciation to be had in it as literature. Think of it as a book with recurring themes that ties them all together from beginning to end. If I have to give an analogy, think of an author who has several different story lines that converge at the end of the book. In that, the Bible is similar.

Think of the following:

Where did man come from, and where is he going?
Why is there suffering? Why is there joy?
Why have the Jews (a relatively small group) been critical to the history of the world?
Why is Jesus Christ (Y’shua Ha’mushiach) so controversial?

Anyway, back to the practical. What I am about to share with you is what my family does every evening at our family devotions. We read a chapter of the Bible, talk about it, pray, and sing two psalms. When my kids were little, we would go straight through the Bible, and eventually my dear wife Ruth would say to me, “Why do I have to wait three years to hear the Gospels, and then I hear them all at once?”

Good question. With that, I set about to find a way to go through the Bible systematically, but not linearly. I divided the Bible up into its main genres:

  • Books of Moses and Old Testament History
  • Wisdom Literature, minus Psalms and Proverbs
  • Psalms
  • Proverbs
  • Prophets
  • Gospels and Acts
  • Epistles (Letters)

After that, I counted the number of chapters in each book and group, apportioned the Psalms and Proverbs into ten groups each, paying attention to logical dividing lines in each set, and calculated how they could be evenly interspersed as seven groups of writings. The list came out as follows:

Psalms 1-14
Proverbs 1-3
Psalms 15-27
Proverbs 4-6
I & II Corinthians
Psalms 28-41
Proverbs 7-9
Psalms 42-57
Proverbs 10-12
Psalms 58-72
Proverbs 13-15
Proverbs 16-18
Psalms 73-89
I & II Thessalonians
I & II Samuel
Proverbs 19-21
Psalms 90-106
I & II Timothy
Song of Solomon
I & II Kings
Proverbs 22-24
Psalms 107-119
Proverbs 25-27
I & II Chronicles
Psalms 120-134
I & II Peter
Proverbs 28-31
Psalms 135-150
John’s Epistles I, II & III

I can’t improve on the Bible, but reading it in this way still gives the thrust of its progress, while keeping people from boredom from “genre overload.” It has proven very useful to my family as we read the Bible, and keeps things fresh as we switch from genre to genre, while still moving through the Bible linearly overall. It has worked well for my family the last four times through the Bible.

If this list proves useful to you, and it actually enables you to successfully read through the whole Bible, please drop me a note.

Christianity | RSS 2.0 |

5 Responses to How to Read the Whole Bible, and Survive the Experience

  1. Steven Milos says:


    Leave it a fixed income guy to methodically apportion a rational, logical way to read the Bible LOL. Seriously, that’s a great list, and I hope that it is a real help to people who haven’t discovered the wonderful variety included in the Bible. As for me, often times, I’ll just open it, see where God leads me, and amazingly enough, the particular chapter/verse/passage will prove relevant to whatever is occurring in my life at that time.

    God bless you and all of the readers of your blog.

    Merry Christmas,


  2. dowoper8tr says:

    I appreciate this article as I too have tried many times to read the Bible from start to finish, in that order, only to wind up quitting. I finally found a 1980 copy of the Readers Digest Bible. No, its not a “small” book. It is actually the Bible written in story format and makes it far easier to read and understand. The maps are extremely intersting, as well. I am amazed at how much information I missed from the King James version simply because I didnt understand the language, context or geography.

  3. Lorrie Barkins Lipshitz says:

    Interesting post. David, do you believe that the Bible is true?

  4. Lorrie, I believe the Bible is true, reliable in its better translations, inspired by God, and inerrant in the original manuscripts.

    This isn’t a religion blog but an investing blog, so I only trot stuff out like this about once every 200 posts. For those who want to know my religious views in depth, you can visit the two personal links on my front page.

  5. leongcpa says:

    First time reader of this blog, having stumbled onto it from other financial blogs; great list and one I will probably use for me and my family.


David Merkel is an investment professional, and like every investment professional, he makes mistakes. David encourages you to do your own independent "due diligence" on any idea that he talks about, because he could be wrong. Nothing written here, at RealMoney, Wall Street All-Stars, or anywhere else David may write is an invitation to buy or sell any particular security; at most, David is handing out educated guesses as to what the markets may do. David is fond of saying, "The markets always find a new way to make a fool out of you," and so he encourages caution in investing. Risk control wins the game in the long run, not bold moves. Even the best strategies of the past fail, sometimes spectacularly, when you least expect it. David is not immune to that, so please understand that any past success of his will be probably be followed by failures.

Also, though David runs Aleph Investments, LLC, this blog is not a part of that business. This blog exists to educate investors, and give something back. It is not intended as advertisement for Aleph Investments; David is not soliciting business through it. When David, or a client of David's has an interest in a security mentioned, full disclosure will be given, as has been past practice for all that David does on the web. Disclosure is the breakfast of champions.

Additionally, David may occasionally write about accounting, actuarial, insurance, and tax topics, but nothing written here, at RealMoney, or anywhere else is meant to be formal "advice" in those areas. Consult a reputable professional in those areas to get personal, tailored advice that meets the specialized needs that David can have no knowledge of.

 Subscribe in a reader

 Subscribe in a reader (comments)

Subscribe to RSS Feed

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Seeking Alpha Certified

Top markets blogs award

The Aleph Blog

Top markets blogs Bull, Boards & Blogs

Blog Directory - Blogged

IStockAnalyst supporter

All Economists Contributor

Business Finance Blogs
OnToplist is optimized by SEO
Add blog to our blog directory.

Page optimized by WP Minify WordPress Plugin