Reading the Bible

So, Marko and the Youth Cartel have partnered with Biblica to produce CBEmini. You can get the scoop here.

I’m intrigued by the concept. I love the idea of removing chapter and verse numbers and allowing students to read the Bible without those helps distracting them and proving very unhelpful. One of the reasons I like Robert Alter’s translation of the David Story is because the verse numbers hang out on the sides and don’t distract nearly as much from just reading the text. The idea of reading in community is also something that I can get excited about with this resource. It’s worth checking out.

At the same time, however, it always makes me nervous when we try to get students reading the Bible and we start with the New Testament. I know, I know, we always want to get to Jesus. But that’s like reading the Lord of the Rings and starting with the Battle of the Pelennor fields. You really have no idea what is going on, but wow it’s exciting. I’d be far more excited about CBEmini if they were starting in the Old Testament. I know it’s supposed to be a short 9-day study, so–of course–we want them to get Jesus, right? I’m not so sure that’s the best idea and I’m almost certain that it isn’t the way to help students engage deeply with Scripture.

I’m not saying CBEmini is a detrimental thing. Far from it. It probably fills a niche. But the gaping hole, as I see it, is still that we aren’t helping student process the full story of Scripture and, in all honesty, we probably don’t know the story all that well ourselves. Still, I’d love to see more resources like this, and perhaps a year-long plan like CBEmini that started students in Genesis. Any publishers interested in doing something like that? I’d be happy to consult on laying it out. Seriously.

4 responses to “Reading the Bible

  1. If you had asked Biblica they would have told you they have several other versions of The Books of the Bible in the works, breaking the Old Testament up into historical grouping.

    Have you actually looked at the materials for CBE or CBEmini?

  2. Adam,

    Thanks for the comment!

    I have looked at CBEmini, and we might use it sometime this year with a group of our students. I hadn’t contacted Biblica directly, though I’m sure I’ll take a look at their historical groupings when they’re released (unless I’ve just missed that on their website?).

    I remember originally getting The Books of the Bible and being intrigued with it several years ago. Not a bad way to organize things. As I said, I think CBEmini is important, I just want to constantly push those of us in the youth ministry world towards helping students grapple with the OT at a very deep level.

    • The results of CBEmini are great. Students wanting to read the Bible. At first they think it’s impossible… but once they get into the story they can’t stop reading.

      It’s fun because they start to recognize that the Bible isn’t a reference tool, like a dictionary, that it’s God-inspired literature. Students say Luke-Acts is better than Twilight, Harry Potter, etc.

      I’m not Biblica, though we’ve worked with them on this project. I would imagine that they started with the New Testament because it was the most obvious. While your contextual point is true from a theological position… where the rubber meets the road is that we would love students to encounter Jesus. I’d rather them know Jesus’ story than say… Isaiah’s.

      What Biblica has done is start with reality. The reality is that most people don’t read the Bible at all. And then they’ve given them a starting point that is doable. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started a “read through the bible” campaign at church only to see it fizzle by week 4 because Genesis is great… but much of the OT can be tough to read.

      • Adam,

        I’m sure that’s the case, and I’m excited by it. It still makes me nervous, and it always will until I see a realistic idea for moving students from the “easy” NT to the “difficult” OT. Even those are gross oversimplifications. Getting Jesus is great, and we desperately need students to experience him. But I see lots of students who end up engaging an overly simplistic Jesus that has little depth. I’m not criticizing Biblica here, and certainly not you guys, but rather youth ministry–and, really, the church–generally.

        If we start them with Jesus we need to have a plan to help them get Isaiah. Because, truth be told, you don’t GET Jesus until you get Isaiah.

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