Editor’s Update: I updated this entry to now 9 Benefits of reading or listening to the Bible in Chronological order and why you probably haven’t done it. Below is the updated version with downloadable schedules and blank journal pages.
Along with losing weight, getting more done, simplifying your life and other commendable goals, is reading through the Bible one of your resolutions for the year?
If so, I’d like to share a way for you to do it that will change your life more significantly than any diet will!
Hi, I’m Yvon Prehn and Welcome to Bible 805!
Today we’re going to talk about…..(the podcast continues below these downloads–I didn’t want you to have to wait for them).
Following are 3 versions of a NEW Schedule for Reading or Listening to the Bible in Chronological Order, plus 2 versions of a blank journal page you can download to make notes, record responses for your journey through the Bible. CLICK the link HERE to download them: Reading Plans and Bible Reading Journals in PDF format
There are schedules that are numbered and not dated, ones dated that you can use any year, and then one specifically for 2021 that has the Sundays marked. You can make copies of any you’d like and share them.
Below is a podcast and links to a video of the reasons why I put the books in the order I did. Below them is a copy of the text for both.
Below is a Podcast on why I put the books into the order I put them in.
Click on the image below to go to a video that explains why I put them in the order I did. After the video is a transcript of the podcast and video if you prefer to read the reasons for the schedule being in the way it is.
Why I came up with a new schedule for reading or listening to the Bible in Chronological Order
Yvon Prehn, www.Bible805.com
Would you like to read or listen to the Bible in a way that makes sense?
Experiencing it in Chronological Order, in the order events happened will do that.
I came up with a new schedule to do that and I can’t wait to share it with you!
If you’ve decided you want to read or listen to the Bible in Chronological, Historical order, you need to decide—
• Which schedule, what order of reading through the Bible to use?
• LOTS of them out there and they are all very good, so why should I create a new one?
• I’ve been reading through the Bible every year and teaching it.
• And from that experience there were adjustments I wanted to make to the schedules I’d tried—some big, some smaller. I’ve got a new one for you—you can download it at www.Bible805.com.
• Now I want to share why I did what I did!
Overall Guidelines for why I did what I did
• Wanted to keep it at ONE YEAR. I looked at one, two, 1.5—all options on timing, but one year seemed best. That’s what I’ve done for over 20 years.
• But I wanted changes.
• Wanted to spend more time in the New Testament.
• Didn’t want people to bail out early on from being only in some OT books.
• I had some historical/topical dating concerns with current plans—from my study I felt some were simply incorrect. Academically, as a historian, other issues were bothersome.
• Also, I didn’t care for how some plans broke up the books (the Gospels were a prime example). I found it too distracting and felt there was loss of integrity for the whole book.
• Again, after lots of study and prayer following is what I did and why—some reasons are scholarly, some practical, but if you’re interested, here it is…..
Psalms and Proverbs are out of the reading list and put in 1 each day
• Done for 2 reasons
• #1—I wanted to spend more time in the New Testament, while keeping it at one year.
• One way to do that is to take out Psalms and Proverbs from reading in Chronological order—and put them in as alternating a Psalm and a chapter from Proverbs in addition to your reading for the day.
• #2—Also, some parts of the Old Testament are hard to read on their own and I decided a Psalm or a Proverb a day would be helpful food for the soul even if going through a book like Leviticus was a bit more challenging.
• Note that reading these books in this way does not break the integrity of the book, as both Psalms and Proverbs are not continuous books written by one author.
• More on each next……
Psalms, why OK to break up this way
• Many authors including David, Solomon, Moses, Sons of Korah, Asaph, & others.
• Written over a long span of time—almost 1,000 years.
• Used in worship, favorites in devotions—uses of individual psalms.
• The whole book is often considered a lengthy lesson in prayer on talking to God in different occasions, when expressing different emotions—fear, joy, anger, repentance, hope, praise.
• So why not throughout the year?
• The goal in reading it in this way is to build a continual practice of prayer in your life no matter what the occasion.
• The plan is to read a Psalm every other day, ending the year repeating the last four psalms of glorious praise as we read the final chapters of Revelation.
Proverbs, why OK to break up the readings
• Mostly ascribed to Solomon, but other authors also contributed at various times, most likely hundreds of years span in creation of the book.
• Proverbs continually reminds of the importance of application of what we learn from God’s Word.
• “If Holy Scripture is to be something other than mere gossip about God, it must be internalized.” Eugene Peterson
• Proverbs help you to not only internalize the principles of scripture but live them in your day-to-day activities in work, works, and relationships.
Cautions on Interpreting Psalms & Proverbs
• I’ll be doing lessons on correctly interpreting Psalms and Proverbs because disappointment with God and false hopes can be the result of improper interpretation.
• Remember PROVERBS are PROVERBS, pithy, memorable sayings that in general are true.
• Like the saying “A stitch in time saves nine.”
• They are NOT PROMISES any more than the saying above is.
• But there is a much greater chance your life will turn out well if you follow them.
• More on that in the lessons on them.
To help with your application of Proverbs and all your readings
• You can download a blank journal page for each day—see www.Bible805.com for links to PDFs.
• Take the time to pause and journal after your readings.
• You’ll learn and remember more.
• Write thoughts, impressions, summaries, questions.
• Write your prayers or favorite verses.
• Keep in a notebook.
Other Changes in the Order of Reading the books of
• NONE arbitrary.
• Done after intensive study, comparing resources and commentaries, and much prayer, but at the base—
• I read the books with historical guidelines in mind—what is the subject matter, what do we know about when it was written, what clues do we have as to timing and the writer?
• None of this to dispute my belief that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, totally trustworthy Word of God—this study was simply to date when written and therefor the best order to read it.
• Most of my dating conclusions are not original with me, but I confirmed the options of others and put what seemed best in the Bible805 reading plan.
The first one—read Job early in Genesis
• Reasons why:
• Jewish tradition and many commentators put it there with Moses as the author.
• The book clearly takes place at the time of the Patriarchs—with the head of the family in charge of sacrifices and prior to formalized worship.
• It is written in the style of book that requires a reading of the COMPLETE book prior to application—common to that time.
• One of the most important chronological placements and in the lesson on it and Genesis
I’ll share why.
The rest of Old Testament prophets in historical places when their messages were preached
• Few Christians read the prophets and often even if they do, they struggle through them, they can appear to be just a bunch of angry old guys ranting about various things.
• BUT when put into their historical setting you see an entirely different picture.
• With Jonah, you see how he was a very successful prophet of good things in Israel, that they would conquer their enemies and they did, before God called him to preach to Nineveh—a city he didn’t want saved.
• I’ll be talking about that and in the lesson about Jonah and sharing about the political world at that time, what kind of a nation Nineveh was, and their extraordinary cruelty—many valid reasons from a human viewpoint for Jonah to run the other way.
Additional benefits of reading the prophets in their proper historical setting
• Much modern criticism of the Bible believes that the prophets preached and prophesied long after the events they talked about or prophesied about.
• Scholarly reasons aside, I can’t help but wonder how much of their thinking was influenced by the mere fact that the books the prophets wrote are the last in the arrangement of our Bibles. Trivia perhaps…….
• When you put the prophet’s words in their proper historical setting (which for most is very easy to do because of the historical markers in them) you understand why they were giving the warnings they were, the controversy and rage their messages often produced, and the verification of God’s hand in history when you see a correct dating of when a prophecy was given and then fulfilled.
• One of the most extraordinary of these is that the Prophet Isaiah prophesied that a king named Cyrus would rebuild Jerusalem. In its proper historical setting, which I’ll establish in detail on that lesson, you’ll learn that Isaiah made this prophecy over 100 years before Cyrus lived, before Israel was even in captivity, before Jerusalem was destroyed.
• There are many more prophecies like this you’ll see when you read these books in their proper chronological, historical order.
The Old Testament reading ends with First and Second Chronicles
• Reasons for this:
• Chronicles was not written close to the same time as the other historical books.
• It was written last or nearly last of the OT books as a reminder of Israel’s history, from creation through nation-building, fall and restoration.
• It is placed last in the Hebrew Bible and is a fitting place for it in our reading.
• A very subjective note: God often uses patterns in what He teaches us:
• Chronicles was a review and summary of previous history prior to their return to the Land after captivity.
• As was Deuteronomy, a review and summary of the history of what happened before Israel entered the Promised Land.
• As is the book of Revelation, in part a review and summary of the entire story of salvation and the final defeat of Satan as we go into the eternal Kingdom.
New Testament—the Gospels, the story of Jesus
• The 3 similar, synoptic gospels start our New Testament reading.
• We will read them as complete books, one by one, not broken up.
• The point of the different Gospels wasn’t to simply retell events, but to structure commonly understood events to different audiences. When you read the books as a whole you see this.
• There are debates on dating them, but Matthew with its inclusion of many of the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled is an excellent way to start the New Testament as it functions as a bridge between the two.
• The Gospel of John is very different. He lived the longest, wrote the latest, and I put his gospel near the end of the readings, more on that later.
Next Acts and the Letters
• Like with the Old Testament books, the letters are placed within the approximate historical setting in which they were written.
• In our Bibles, we have Paul’s letters (totally out of historical order), then letters written by others.
• This makes no sense as it is commonly understood that James was probably the first written of all the letters, so it is the earliest letter you will read after the passage in Acts that talks about him.
• After that in Acts, when you read about Paul’s visit to Thessalonica and then you will read 1&2 Thessalonians.
• But not all the letters have as clear a link.
• So, how to schedule them?
I looked at when in the history of the development of the church
• Early on the church struggled with what was beneficial to continue to do from the Jewish religion and OT Law.
• And what from the OT Law needed to be completely done away with particular emphasis on how Jesus fulfilled the Law.
• More detail on this in the individual lessons.
• But as an example—the book of Galatians all agree was one of the earliest because it delt with this topic as the young faith was working out its changing theology.
• Little controversy on the dating of Galatians or of James that comes before it in chronology.
• With this in mind, in looking at the various topics of undated letters, I put one in a new place.
• Few concrete conclusions about Hebrews, many questions about dating, authorship, etc., so I reread it as a secular historian, what topics are discussed, what is the style, references, etc.
• My conclusions—
• Probably not by Paul—voice, writing style totally different and also the clear statement in Heb. 2:3 [message of salvation] “confirmed to us by those who heard him.”
• Paul often talked about how the Lord spoke to him personally, so by this declarative statement, he didn’t write it.
• As I continued reading the contents and topics discussed, what clues do they give in regards to dating?
The content suggests that it may have been early
• Hebrews is a detailed, focused discussion of the preparatory nature of the OT and how Jesus fulfilled all prophecies.
• Based on similar topical discussion, I put it after Galatians (which is all about how the Law is set aside because of grace) in the reading schedule.
• An aside note and not essential—Hebrews sounds like the kind of explanation Priscilla and Aquilla would have given to Apollos, in Acts 18:24-28, who was a man who had “a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures” but did not understand the place of Jesus in the plan of salvation.
• When they took him aside and “explained the way of God more adequately, “ it goes on to say that afterwards, “he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ” which is what a careful understanding of Hebrews would help one do.
• By no means do I claim authority on this, but I think it might be helpful to read it here regardless of whether or not it was the recorded notes of the exchange between Apollos and Priscilla (both of whom have been suggested as authors of Hebrews).
Finally, the books the Apostle John wrote before the Revelation
• For John’s writings it is agreed that they are written late. I’ll share my views on more precise dating when we get to those lessons.
• It seemed good to place them as a review of the earthly life of Jesus and as the view of the church decades into knowing the basic facts of His life.
• A good review before the final revelation of Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
• It will be an exciting journey!
That’s why I did what I did
• In the weeks of study, prayer, and wrestling the spreadsheets for the schedules, there were many times I wanted to leave it alone and go back to another schedule.
• But it seemed the Lord wouldn’t let me.
• That is no claim of perfection or total correctness—but perhaps a useful voice into the great universal conversations about the Bible.
• I do think this order is historically valid and thematically more so than some others and I trust it will give new insight to readers.
• I’ll share much more historical detail as we go through the Bible in the coming year.
• The content is available in whatever media you want—podcast, video, shareable courses, journals, handouts, notes.
• All linked to at www.bible805.com
• Be sure to sign up for the newsletter and subscribe to the podcast to be part of this exciting adventure of going through the Bible in the order it was lived!
That’s all for now
• Check out the notes from this lesson, related resources, and helpful links at www.bible805.com
• If the podcast has been useful to you, please consider supporting it through your donations and prayers. For links on how to do that, again, check out www.bible805.com.
• I’m Yvon Prehn, your fellow pilgrim, writer and teacher for Jesus.
• I’d like to close with this benediction:
May you know the invitation of God, to move
-from confusion to clarity
-from wandering to rest
-from loneliness to knowing you are loved
-from turmoil to peace
From wherever you are on your spiritual journey to a growing knowledge of God’s Word and in your personal relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen