Saturday, January 26, 2008

Month by Month Reading Schedule

Here is the schedule of readings, month by month.

We are going to read what Christians call the "Old Testament" from the perspective of the Hebrew Scriptures. They contain the same books but in a different order. The Hebrew Scriptures are called the
TaNaKh. T is for Torah. N is for Nevi'im. K is for Ketuvim.

The Torah is the center. In the synagogue, the Torah is read through each year. The Prophets are commentary on the Torah, and the Writings are stories of wisdom.

Think of concentric circles of importance, with Torah in the center, the Prophets the second circle, and the Writings the third circle.

Torah is known as the Instruction or the Law. The first five books, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. We will read these books in January.

Neviim or the Prophets are divided into former and latter prophets.

We will read the former prophets (Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings) in February.

The latter prophets are divided into the major prophets and the minor prophets. These are called minor prophets not because they are less important, but because they are short and all fit on one scroll.

In March we will read the major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel).

In April we will read the minor prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi)

Ketuvim or the Writings are divided into three parts. The poetic books, the Megilot or Five Scrolls , and the Post-Exilic Writings.

In May we will read the poetic books (Job, Psalms, and Proverbs).

In June we will read the Megillot or the Five Scrolls (Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther) and the Post-Exilic Writings (Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1 and 2 Chronicles).

We will also be reading the apocrypha or deuterocanonical books. Some of these writings are included as scripture in various Christian communities.

These books were originally written in Greek as opposed to Hebrew. These are included in our NRSV Bible. We will divide these readings into two months.

In July we will read Tobit, Judith, Esther (Greek), The Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch, The Letter of Jeremiah, Azsariah and the Three Jews, and Susanna.

In August we will read Bel and the Dragon, I & II Maccabees, I Esdras, The Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, III Maccabees, II Esdras, and IV Maccabees.

We will also read the New Testament in a different order. We will do this to get a sense of historical order of these writings. I have also added a couple of works (such as the Gospel of Thomas and the Didache) that did not make it into the Christian canon, but are important works of early Christian history. I have also included 'Q' which is a reconstruction that the scholarly community believes was a source for the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.

In September we will read the seven authentic letters of Paul (1 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians (Letter L), Galatians, Philippians, Philemon, 2 Corinthians 10 – 13 (Letter H), 2 Corinthians 1 – 9 (Letter R), and Romans in the order scholars think they were written). Paul's letters are the oldest writings in the New Testament.

Scholars debate on which letters were actually written by Paul and which are written in his name, but are not his. All scholars agree that these seven are authentic.

In October we will look at the historical Jesus and the Gospels. We will read Q, the Gospel of Thomas, Letter of James, the Didache, the Gospel of Mark, and the Gospel of Matthew. I will explain this further in later posts.

In November we will read Hebrews, Colossians, II Thessalonians, Ephesians, Revelation, the Gospel of John, and 1, 2, and 3 John.

Finally in December we will read the Gospel of Luke, Acts, Jude, 1 & 2 Peter, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus. The rationale for reading these works in that order will become clearer as we move ahead.

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