My As Light Is Sown blog is running a weekly commentary on my experience and thoughts arising in reading the Bible straight-through, from Genesis to Revelation. It’s a wildly varied collection of writings.
But if I’d have to pick my top ten books? Here’s a stab.
- Gospel of John: I’m intrigued by a counterargument running through the text that identifies Christ as the Holy Spirit more than Jesus. You’ll have to wait for the post to see my reasoning. The book is also called the “Quaker gospel,” giving me an extra interest.
- Genesis: It’s a bang-bang-bang way to begin the chronology, with human desires and conflicts at the fore, even that far back in antiquity. Much of the book would make a great soap opera, but for me, it’s more primal and fundamental than that. Although it often seems to be a telling of patriarchy, keep an eye on the women. And don’t blame Eve when the ball starts rolling.
- The Psalms: This collection of heartfelt poems, many of them written anonymously in the guise of King David, span a range of deep emotion. They’re rich enough that the Eastern Orthodox read six in their entirety each Sunday – the same six.
- Ruth: The whole story explodes into fullness on a single word – Moabite. But what an incredible love story.
- Song of Songs: This is an incredible poem of illicit love. Forget the argument about it’s being an allegory about divine concern and all that. What is religion without passion? Leave it at that.
- Esther: Again, a complex soap opera is unleashed here. The bad guys don’t get any worse. By the way, “chamberlains” in the King James translation masks a bigger meaning – they’re eunuchs, who play a surprisingly big role throughout the Hebrew Bible.
- Revelation: Read this as poetry, not dystopian doom or a blueprint for human destruction.
- Ezekiel: I was surprised by how psychedelic this book is. Whoa!
- Tobit: The Apocrypha, not included in most Protestant or Hebrew Bibles, has some lovely stories. This is one. Like Susannah, also from the collection, it tells of injustice, suffering, and ultimate redemption.
- Epistle of James: The epistles, most of them attributed to Paul, are a specialty unto themselves. As the brother of Jesus and a leader of the Essenes, though, James has special authority.
What would you add to the list?