Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Long-term Reading: William Barclay

Since kids are back in school and parents are back at work, it's time to drop the summer reading and forge ahead to the serious stuff. I've shared some of the things I've read recently for enjoyment. Now, I'll share what I've been reading or studying at a slow pace. I always have a long-term project going whether I get to it regularly or not.

For the past four years, I have been reading through the William Barclay New Daily Study Bible series. It's a New Testament commentary organized into verse-by-verse daily readings. The edition I'm using is paperback, 17 volumes, available online at Cokesbury or Amazon. I bought the books one at a time from different sources.

I went through the two volumes on the Gospel of John first. Then, I worked through the other gospels before going to Acts. I skipped to Revelation and back to Paul's letters and other epistles. Now, I'm in my final volume The Letters of James and Peter...400 pages to go. I may not finish it this year, but at least I'm in the last volume.

I've learned so much from this project. Barclay is revered as a New Testament/Greek scholar. Many seminaries use his work as textbooks or resources for their Bible courses. Not only do you learn about what the Bible says, you learn about the ancient world and how the culture shaped the mission and the message of the early church. Also, you are informed about the heresies that were festering within the church during Paul's ministry and beyond.

I don't read these books in the daily-reading method that it's designed for. I read a few pages, underlining in pencil things I'd like to look at in greater depth. I date each section as I read it so I can see how fast I'm progressing through the book. Periodically, or at least at the end of each volume), I go back through with pen and paper to make notes on the things I underlined just to firm up my memory and understanding.

It would be great to study this with a group so that I'd have opportunity for discussion. In a group, though, I'd have to follow the group's schedule, and I've been able to study at my own pace. Since it's taken me four years to get to the last volume, I probably would never have found a group that would stick with me that long!

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