How do you read a book as big and deep as the Bible?
When asked that question in an interview, New Testament scholar N.T. Wright’s answer was simple: “Frequently and thoroughly.” In the interview below, he goes on to explain what he describes as “the whole sweep of Scripture:”
Since I first watched this video last week, I’ve been thinking about two interrelated assertions of Wright’s: that “the Bible was not primarily written to be read in 10-verse chunks” and his advice to “remember you’re reading the whole thing, but you’re just focusing on this little bit.”
Both statements urge us to see the Bible not as a series of small, unrelated vignettes, but as a single, coherent body of work. As Wright puts it, we should consider “the whole sweep of Scripture.” When we think of Scripture in this way, we start noticing the threads that weave in and out of the narrative, drawing seemingly disparate sections together. Imagine reading the Hebrews 11 without having read Genesis and Exodus—you’d be missing out on the background and context that gives the Hebrews passage its depth.
Wright also gives a challenge that I think is well worth taking on for yourself: “Read one of the epistles or the gospels in one sitting. Let it wash over you and then go back and study the details of the words.” If you’ve never taken time to read straight through a large section of the Bible in one sitting, it can be a transformative experience.