Well, hello and welcome to my first blog post on Christian Orthodox!
I can think of no better way to kick this off than to offer a few words of explanation about The 7 Minute Bible – The Entire Bible in 78 Verses ebook. This is a project that has been in my head for a while and now I have finally gotten around to putting it together.
UPDATE: The 7 Minute Bible is now available on Amazon! Click here to get it.
Over the years I have bounced around from one Bible reading plan to another. Sometimes I read through books of Scripture quickly, sometimes slowly and there are both advantages and disadvantages to each approach. Also, I have tried several different methods of Scripture memorization as well. Then one day I had an idea: What if I could find the key verse that best summarizes the message of each individual book and then memorize that list as an overview of the entire Bible? Read the Bible in a year? Pshaw! Let’s read it in seven minutes instead 🙂
It is one of the unfortunate consequences of Church history that different traditions within Christianity have varying lists of books in their Old Testament. I am Eastern Orthodox and my Bible has 78 books, my Roman Catholic friends have 72 books, and most of my Protestant brothers and sisters have 66 books in all. Although The Entire Bible in 78 Verses represents the Eastern Orthodox canon I believe it will still be of interest to Christians of any background.
The translations I chose reflect my own personal preference for early modern English versions (yes, I am very much a “thee and ye” guy when reading Scripture ). New Testament quotations are from the King James Version and all other quotations are from Michael Asser’s translation of the Septuagint which is the preferred text of the Old Testament among the Orthodox since the first century.
Coming up with a key verse for each book was a challenge and sometimes the reasoning will only be apparent after a few moments of reflection while others will be obvious right away. The key verse of Genesis (Gk. for “beginning”) is, of course Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God made the heaven and the earth”.
Genesis is the book of beginnings: the beginning of the world, the beginning of monotheism after centuries of darkness (Abraham), the beginning of the Chosen People through the patriarchs, etc.
Leviticus details the Law of the Old Testament which God gave as a reflection of His own holiness and so the whole book is a call to “be holy: for I, the Lord your God am holy (Lev. 19:2).”
First Maccabees is a call for all of us to struggle in being faithful to God’s covenant in spite of a world that wants to force us to compromise and so Mattathias’ cry brings home the message of the entire book for me, “Whosoever is zealous of the Law, and maintaineth the covenant, let him follow me (I Macc. 2:27)!”
The Book of Psalms is a book of poetic anthropology showing us how we ought to live if we wish to be, as David, a “man after God’s own heart” and each Psalm points in its own way to the one Man, Jesus Christ, who perfectly lived the blessed life described in the opening words of the Psalter, “Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the pestilent (Ps. 1:1).”
Coming to the Gospel of Matthew, written to the Hebrews to show that Jesus is the Messiah who fulfills all the prophecies, we have Christ saying, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfill (Mt. 5:17).”
So this list is how I view the message of each book at this point in my Christian walk. It is not a perfect list and I will no doubt find myself gravitating towards other words as I mature. Still, putting this together has been a blessing for me to do. I hope it will bless all those who read it as well.
Now how about you? Is there a verse which particularly brings home the message of that book of Scripture in your life? Please leave your comments below!