Reading the New Testament with Fulcrum

As explained in an earlier post just before Christmas, through 2015 we will be gradually publishing resources to encourage and enable reading of the New Testament.  The structure is designed to enable reading the whole New Testament in 50 weeks from January to December with 5 or 6 chapters a week (see the details below) although obviously it can be used in part or on a different timescale.  The resources will also, we hope, be of value much more widely for anyone seeking to study a New Testament book.

We will add resources as we work through the schedule below providing introductions to each NT book, a guide to commentaries on the book and links to online academic resources on the book.  We may also add links to online sermons on the book.  Each week we will also produce a short, basic guide to that week's readings and a link to MP3 audio files of Andrew Goddard reading that week's chapters from Tom Wright's recent translation The New Testament for Everyone (SPCK).

We hope that those reading each week – or others who just look up a particular page – will submit comments with thoughts, questions, applications on the biblical text or pointers to additional relevant resources. 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.

 

Schedule of Readings

The readings move between gospels and epistles rather than reading consecutively and link together writings from the same author.

Week No. Reading Week Beginning
1 Mark 1-5 04 January 2015
2 Mark 6-10 11 January 2015
3 Mark 11-16 18 January 2015
4 1 Peter 1-5 25 January 2015
5 2 Peter 1-3 & Jude 01 February 2015
6 Gal 1-6 08 February 2015
7 1 Thess 1-5 15 February 2015
8 2 Thess 1-3 22 February 2015
9 1 Cor 1-6 01 March 2015
10 1 Cor 7-11 08 March 2015
11 1 Cor 12-16 15 March 2015
12 2 Cor 1-5 22 March 2015
13 2 Cor 6-9 29 March 2015
14 2 Cor 10-13 05 April 2015
15 Luke 1-5 12 April 2015
16 Luke 6-9 19 April 2015
17 Luke 10-15 26 April 2015
18 Luke 16-20 03 May 2015
19 Luke 21-24 10 May 2015
20 Acts 1-5 17 May 2015
21 Acts 6-10 24 May 2015
22 Acts 11-15 31 May 2015
23 Acts 16-21 07 June 2015
24 Acts 22-28 14 June 2015
25 Hebrews 1-4 21 June 2015
26 Hebrews 5-9 28 June 2015
27 Hebrews 10-13 05 July 2015
28 James 1-5 12 July 2015
29 John 1-6 19 July 2015
30 John 7-12 26 July 2015
31 John 13-17 02 August 2015
32 John 18-21 09 August 2015
33 1, 2 & 3 John 16 August 2015
34 Rev 1-5 23 August 2015
35 Rev 6-11 30 August 2015
36 Rev 12-16 06 September 2015
37 Rev 17-22 13 September 2015
38 Romans 1-5 20 September 2015
39 Romans 6-11 27 September 2015
40 Romans 12-16 04 October 2015
41 Ephesians 1-6 11 October 2015
42 Philippians 1-4 18 October 2015
43 Colossians 1-4 & Philemon 25 October 2015
44 1 Timothy 1-6 01 November 2015
45 2 Timothy 1-4 & Titus 1-3 08 November 2015
46 Matthew 1-4 15 November 2015
47 Matthew 5-9 22 November 2015
48 Matthew 10-15 29 November 2015
49 Matthew 16-21 06 December 2015
50 Matthew 22-28 13 December 2015

The scheme for reading the New Testament is arranged so that there are a certain number of chapters - usually 5 or 6 - to read each week. Sometimes the resources may suggest breaks which help you understand the structure.

For those who haven't tried regular Bible reading or who are looking for different approaches there follow a few basic suggestions.

How to read – Some suggestions

  • Set aside time and place so that you are not too exhausted and likely to nod off and not too likely to be disturbed.
  • Don’t try to do it alongside other things as you will need to concentrate and to listen to God. If you want to use other resources to help you understand then don’t let them distract you from the Scriptures.
  • If you decide to read a chapter aloud or listen to an audio recording then, based on the recordings, the time varies between just over 1.5 minutes (Mk 16) and 12.5 minutes (Mt 26) with most taking between 4 and 6 minutes.
  • Take time to settle and focus on God.
  • Pray before you read (or listen), asking God to speak to your heart and mind by his Spirit through his word
  • Read (or listen) carefully to the passage but don’t feel you need to pick up every detail or understand everything that is being said – that could take a lifetime!
  • Spend time in silence meditating and reflecting on what you have read and asking God to speak from it and show you what He wants to say to you through it. There are various approaches you might like to use below.
  • Perhaps read some or all of the passage again if you have time.
  • If something has spoken strongly to you then you may want to try to commit the verse(s) to memory.
  • Pray in what you have heard from God or the questions you have.
  • Consider writing something down and perhaps sharing some of what you’ve learned or are struggling with from the reading, perhaps by commenting on the Fulcrum web page.

Some possible ways of reading

There are many, many ways of reading the Bible. The key is to listen and let God’s Word speak into your world. Here are just a few different approaches which you might like to use at some point, do add comments suggesting other methods:

  • As you read and reflect ask God to give you a word or phrase from the reading and meditate on that, asking what he is saying to you through it, perhaps looking at other biblical passages that come to mind.
  • Use the online resources to look up a commentary or some other material to help you understand what the passage is saying.
  • Read the passage in more than one translation (perhaps read a traditional one and listen to Tom Wright’s contemporary translation or read Eugene Peterson’s Message translation). What strikes you from these different translations?
  • Consider how this passage flows and how it relates to what you have read already in the gospel or letter, particularly in the previous chapter or in other writings by the same author.
  • If you are reading a gospel, see if another gospel tells the same story and consider the similarities and differences – what is God saying by giving us these multiple testimonies?
  • Ask yourself one or more of the following questions:
    • What does this passage tell me about God – His character, His mission in the world etc.?
    • What does this passage tell me about human beings and how we relate either well or badly to God and to one another?
    • What does this passage tell me about myself?
    • What does God want to do to make me more like Jesus and to empower me to share in His mission?
  • Imagine yourself into the reading e.g. as one of the characters in the story, as the author or recipient of the letter. Let the text shape your imagination as, in that role, you consider the impact of God’s Word on the person.
  • If the passage quotes from the Old Testament read the chapter the quoted text comes from and reflect on how God’s earlier words help you understand the New Testament and speak to you today.
  • Think about Then and Now and Next:
    • Then – what do you think this meant in its original context e.g. when Jesus said/did it?, when it was first read as part of this gospel?, when the apostle wrote to this church?
    • Now – how does it speak into my context today in the 21st century e.g. What is similar and what is different? What does it reveal about how our world works? What does it say about my relationships with others and with God?
    • Next – what am I going to do about it?
  • Reflect on your reactions to what you have read (e.g. What excites or encourages you? What confuses or upsets you?). Why does God’s Word here have that effect? What is God saying to you?
  • The Community Bible Experience suggests five questions to consider:
    • What’s something you noticed for the first time?
    • What questions did you have?
    • Was there anything that bothered you?
    • What did you learn about loving God?
    • What did you learn about loving others?

Tom Wright on Reading the Bible

Andrew Goddard

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).

2 thoughts on “Reading the New Testament with Fulcrum

  1. When I saw this, it felt much like a gift for Epiphany! Personally, I have long wished that we were more often discussing the scriptures themselves here, and not just applying them to timely or perennial controversies. I look forward to seeing some old and new friends under the New Testament tab of the Fulcrum homepage.

Leave a Comment