In July 2013, to raise money for the work on our Parish Centre, I did a sponsored reading of the whole New Testament using Tom Wright’s recent translation The New Testament for Everyone (SPCK). It was a memorable experience. Beginning with Matthew at 6pm on a Friday evening and finally ending John’s gospel approaching 4am on Saturday I returned to church after a few hours’ sleep to start Acts at 9am. I reached the final words of Revelation – with a much larger audience than when I ended John - about 12 hours later.
Last month from nowhere the thought popped into my head, “Why don’t we do that again but as a church through all of 2015? As there are 270 chapters in the New Testament and 52 weeks in a year we could do about 5 chapters a week so that’s not too difficult”. So, next year, people at St James the Less are being encouraged to work together through the whole New Testament. We’ll have a Facebook group to share thoughts as we read. Once a month we plan to have a Sunday lunch together at the vicarage when we can discuss the books we’ve covered since we last met. Rather than read through as I did from Matthew to Revelation in just over 24 hours we’re going to mix up gospels and epistles and spread it out over 50 weeks.
Then I had another thought – “As we believe that renewing the evangelical centre requires fresh engagement with the Bible, and we’ve talked often about how we can do this more on the website, why don’t we see if others want to do this and provide resources on Fulcrum?”
So, through next year, we will be providing resources structured around reading through the whole of the New Testament. We’ll start with Mark’s Gospel in the week beginning Sunday January 4th.
Resources on each book
The plan is that as we prepare for each new book we will offer a set of resources which will be at a range of different levels. Some people will want just a structure to read the relevant chapters, others will want some basic background about the book they are reading, some may want to study things further and draw on good biblical scholarship. Our hope is that, at whatever level works for them, people might find these resources helpful not only if they are reading through the whole New Testament but as a reference for preaching and other study. The goal is to have four different areas:
Introduction – A very basic background to the book with links to more detailed information online and, where possible, videos and audio recordings giving helpful introductory material.
Commentaries – Links to online commentaries (particularly from classic theologians in Christian history) and articles offering guidance on the best commentaries available.
Scholarship – Links to sites providing more detailed scholarship on the book, perhaps highlighting particular resources.
Sermons – Links to recordings of sermons by respected preachers on the book (this may take more time to develop).
We hope that in all these areas people will add comments discussing issues, highlighting particularly helpful resources and suggesting additions to the page. This will enable the resource to be continually refreshed. If you have suggestions in any of these areas before a book appears then please do email us at [email protected].
Resources for each week
For each week’s readings – usually five or six chapters - there will be a very short piece sketching what the chapters cover (this may sometimes offer more detailed commentary but we’re not promising!). The plan is that this will also include a link to the recordings of my reading of Tom Wright’s translation for those who would like to listen to that alongside or instead of reading a standard translation. If you use those recording then please do consider making a small donation by the link provided as although the St James the Less Centre will open in early 2015 we are still raising money for the work.
We hope that those reading each week – or others who just look up a particular page – will then submit comments with thoughts, questions, applications. In that way we will build not only the resources but a community of Bible readers. When we can do so, we may also publish articles, sermons or other resources relating to particular chapters.
Please feel free to submit ideas or contributions for this new project to [email protected] (although we cannot promise to respond to every email or publish every suggestion) and leave suggestions in the comments on this post.
We look forward to seeing how this works out and hearing from you as the project develops.
Andrew Goddard has been on the Leadership Team of Fulcrum since its launch in 2003. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow of the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics based in Cambridge (where he was previously Associate Director). He has taught Christian Ethics at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and Trinity College, Bristol and is also an Adjunct Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California. He is a canon at Winchester Cathedral and Assistant Minister at St James the Less, Pimlico where his wife, Lis, is Vicar. He is author of a number of books, most recently Rowan Williams: His Legacy (Lion, 2013) and co-editor with Andrew Atherstone of Good Disagreeement? Grace and Truth in a Divided Church (Lion, 2015).