Can a Person Read too Much?
Even too much of the Bible? It would be folly to make that statement. So I won't.
Perhaps the question should be set up better. Imagine this scenario. You, read five chapters today. Done daily, you will read the entire Bible annually. A great thing.
Now the question, of the five chapters read today, what did you comprehend?
Reading can be tested for reading speed, but more significance is given to the reader's comprehension.
How would you do, if were asked to write two paragraphs or speak for thirty seconds sharing the point of the five chapters. Often, I would not fare well with that task. Why?
- In the Old Testament, five chapters may have covered hundreds of years of history.
- In the Old Testament, five chapters may include several different conversations, with different people, in different settings, with different issues.
- In the Gospels and Acts, five chapters always includes many movements and activities.
If asked, who was talking? Who were they talking too? What did the original reader or listener gain from the chapters just read?
In reading five chapters, a snippet of scripture here or there may gain my attention. The majority of verses do not.
Some days, my mind wanders and after reading I've gained little, other than maintaining the discipline of reading my Bible. The sentences flow under my eye without comprehension.
Reading with Focus
Have you considered reading and thoroughly absorbing a paragraph or two each day? Read five chapters if you must, but prioritize making sure to mentally grasp what is communicated in one, two, or three paragraphs.
It is different, but effective. Over the next few blogs I'll share how this works for me. Before getting to that, there are some things to consider.
On Biblical Divisions
Chapter divisions are not part of the inspired text. Our modern chapter divisions were created by Stephen Langton around 1227. John Wycliffe's Bible, completed in 1382 before printing presses was the first Bible to use Langton's divisions.
Verses were created over two-hundred years later. The Old Testament verses are the work of a Jewish Rabbi named Nathan. He completed his work in 1448. The New Testament verses were developed in 1551 by Robert (Stephanus) Estienne.
The point: chapter and verse divisions help find a passage of scripture. We are all thankful for them. But chapter and verse divisions are a human creation. On occasion the chapter and verse divisions are not how I would have done them.
Paragraphs are similar divisions. Man-made but beneficial sections within a chapter. A short psalm may be one paragraph. As with chapters and verses, the paragraph breaks or paragraph marks in any Bible are not divinely inspired. Paragraphs have been a beneficial way for me to consider God's word.
Finding a Paragraph Bible
Most of my several dozen Bibles do not have paragraph breaks. With that in mind, you can download for free scanned PDF and epub versions of the Cambridge Bible with paragraph divisions. The software here compels you to "check out" - rest assured there is no cost.
Cambridge has recently published another version of the Paragraph Bible. A leather bound KJV of the Cambridge Study Bible is here.
Other options are available. Do take note that some options include the Apocrypha, which you may or may not want.
For comprehension a verse often contains too little information while a chapter (or five chapter) contains too much information. A paragraph or two can be just right.
Reading and examining a single paragraph from the Bible can yield profound benefits, by providing a perspective on God, human nature, culture and truth.
Up Next: Three benefits of considering one paragraph at a time.