Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Bible - A Reading Plan That Works

Man lives, not directly or nakedly in nature like the animals, but within a mythological universe, a body of assumptions and beliefs developed from his existential concerns.
Northrop Frye, The Great Code, p. xviii

The Oracle of Ottawa still can't believe that he finally read the whole thing! It was all in and done on Thursday last. All 2180 pages of it. (Oy!)  The Oracle of Ottawa could never read as fast as Harold Bloom at 400 pages per hour in his prime! The Oracle of Ottawa doesn't think he can break the 40 page an hour barrier, but never the less, he gets it done.

The "Red Brick" This is what you want, exactly...

It was all started by watching Northrop Frye on TVO's show Big Ideas. They found a whole wack of video tapes of the great Northrop Frye lecturing at Victoria College and they ran one on the Introduction to The Bible course that was very popular back in the 1980's, when even then, Northrop Frye was all but a legend in his own time. The Oracle of Ottawa was fascinated with the approach, and vouched safe the fact that you will never get through Milton if you don't know your Bible. But the thing that got me sucked in was the realization that the Oracle of Ottawa had never read the Apocrypha!  

That was how it all started about three months ago. This will be a piece of cake the Oracle thought. There were several editions and translations on hand in the secured bunker. But, much to the surprise and chagrin of the Oracle, he only had one version of the Bible that contained the Apocrypha! And that turned out to be The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, in the Augmented Third Edition of the New Revised Standard Version. College Edition, An Ecumenical Study Bible. ( Did you know that in the time of the King James Version, around 1611, that it was against the law to print a Bible without the Apocrypha?) The fluke of circumstance turned out to be a Godsend. Read on and the Oracle will explain...

It is all about the covenants. If you can grasp that little idea you have the job wacked. And the perfect place to start is at the Apocrypha, the period between the old covenant(s) and the new covenant(s). The Oracle found it all most interesting reading. Especially the Book of Ruth! What a Babe! This has to be some of the earliest feminine literature there is. And it was hot X rated stuff, it made the Oracle all tingly several times. Glass ceiling my ass... Any way as you read on into the Maccabees, you realize that the world at that time was changing rapidly, the old ways were not working like the past and there is a detected longing and hope for something better. Soon you will have read right through, and there will be a lot to ponder.

Now after reading the Apocrypha, read all the essays that are located after the New Testament. This stuff is utterly fascinating gold. Did you know that a talent weighed 75 pounds? After this section you will certainly know the difference between a Philistine and a Pharisee! And the Oracle surely enjoyed the essay on the work of Northrop Frye! The words in the words and the importance of the words in the right order, you will eat this stuff up.

Now after the Essays section, start the New Testament, yah! Put a first bookmark right there. Now with your second bookmark place it at the beginning of the last book of the Old Testament, which of course is Malachi, the last of the minor prophets. Now place your third bookmark at the book of Genesis. Now everyday start at the New Testament for as long as you can, then get in a few pages from the last of the Old Testament. Then try to get one page or two from Genesis.

Since the text of the New Testament is more modern and familiar, you will finish these books of the New Covenant before the Old Testament. When you have wacked, or rather finished reading the New Testament, take that first bookmark and place it at the start of the second book of the Old Testament, after Genesis. Now when you have read Malachi proceed to the next unread book at the end of the Old Testament. Now what you will see happening is that you are working into the middle. And the shorter books at the end of the minor prophets will spur you to continue.

With dogged determination, you should have the whole project end at around the prophet Jeremiah. Individual results will vary of course due to native pig headedness, desire and level of intelligence. When you get it  in and all done, you will think differently and understand the incredible haul of the development of what we call Western Civilization. And you will certainly be able to proclaim that you lived up fully to the promise and potential of your baptism, as you damn well should!    

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