2018 Reading the Bible as Literature Event

Welcome to the Sign-Up Post for the 2018 Reading the Bible Event!

About the Event: The Christian bible is one of the most influential texts in western literature. As someone who reads literature for pleasure/edification and who teaches Literature in English at the college level, I frequently re-familiarize myself with many historically rich texts from a variety of mythologies and cultures.

As such, I’ve read the Christian bible many times, but only twice from cover-to-cover. I usually revisit specific passages depending on what I’m working on at the time, or which political/philosophical debate I’m getting into, etc. For 2018, I thought another cover-to-cover read through, with company this time, would be helpful and fun!

As a special note, I will be reading the bible as literature and crafting my posts as such. This challenge is not specific to nor exclusively meant for Christians; instead, it is for readers who are interested in learning more about a very important text in the western canon. As such, I invite anyone and everyone to participate, regardless of faith or lack thereof. Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Atheist, Hindu, Agnostic, Mormon, Humanist? Come along!

What I would love is a lively and spirited discussion of the stories, philosophies, history, and cultural issues. We might discuss allegory, parables, comparative religion, metaphor, and symbolism to name just a few topics. The text will be treated respectfully and the discussions will follow in that same spirit — disparaging remarks about anyone’s beliefs will not be tolerated (and therefore all comments will be moderated). We’ll do our best!

1403190609407R48R5tYI’ll be reading from The Holy Bible: King James Version (KJV), illustrated by Gustave Doré and published by Barnes & Noble, but you can feel free to read any version you’d like. There are many newer editions that are much more “readable,” in my opinion. Keep in mind, of course, some textual changes have resulted in meaning changes as well, and of course the contemporary versions lose some of the poetic qualities.


The Reading Plan

  • January: Genesis 1 through Exodus 40
  • February: Leviticus 1 through Deuteronomy 4
  • March: Deuteronomy 5 through 1 Samuel 17
  • April: 1 Samuel 18 through 1 Chronicles 2
  • May: 1 Chronicles 3 through Esther 10
  • June: Job 1 through Psalms 89
  • July: Psalms 90 through Isaiah 17
  • August: Isaiah 18 through Ezekiel 8
  • September: Ezekiel 9 through Zechariah 14
  • October: Malachi 1 through Luke 18
  • November: Luke 19 through 1 Corinthians 8
  • December: 1 Corinthians 9 through Revelations 22


I will be reading the above list of titles during the months given. Furthermore, on the last day of each month (so, beginning December 31st 2017 for January 2018), a list of passages will be given for daily reading. This is really just to make it easier on myself; I find I can keep up with reading the bible, especially the rather dull bits, if I do a little bit every day. So, I’ll share this list with all participants every month & will base my weekly and monthly check-in posts on those daily goals.

Every Sunday: I’ll post my thoughts on the passages that I read that week, with some discussion questions, favorite quotes, questions, literary references that come to mind, etc. I hope these Sunday posts will encourage discussion among those who are also reading along at a similar pace.

Month’s End: I will post an update with the books/verses that I read during the previous month and list the readings (chapter and verse) for the upcoming month in a “readings per day” format. My goal is to read about the same amount each day, week, and month, but you can do whatever you want! I hope these monthly posts will be another place for everyone to discuss their experience with the readings.


  • Comment on this post if you’d like to join in.
  • Read along with me in a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule (whatever works for you) and participate in discussion as much or as little as you like.
  • Post your thoughts on the bible readings somewhere on your blog, Tumblr, Goodreads account, or in the comments on any given post.
  • To share on Twitter/Facebook/Insta, etc, please use: #2018BibleRBR

41 Comments on “2018 Reading the Bible as Literature Event

  1. THIS IS AMAZING. I am having a lot of feelings right now. I just read the New Testament earlier this year, and I am not sure I can handle more of Paul again so soon, but I am definitely considering it. AAHHHHHHH.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha. I am sure my feelings about Paul will become quite clear as the NT readings unfold.


  2. As a lifelong atheist, I’m ashamed to say I have never read the Bible. I tried to a couple of years ago but didn’t get on very well, so I’m intrigued to see if your discussion posts will be able to inspire me to stick with it this time. I’ll give it a go anyway… I do feel that it’s such an important book and referenced so often that it’s a sad lack not to have read it.


  3. Yes! I wanted to do that in 2018 too. The Bible is interesting to read as literature. My favorite book on that is The Art of Biblical Narrative by Robert Alter. I read it early this year and it blew my mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes! Though I read the Bible regularly to guide my faith, for a few years now I have wanted to study it for its literary merit as well and didn’t know where to turn for that. Looking forward to it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I may join you for this, as I’ve never read the entire bible from cover to cover. I think you know my opinion of it, as you see all my posts on Facebook. I do agree that it is an important work in the literary/classical canon. I have an archaeological study bible (NIV, Archaeological Study Bible: An Illustrated Walk Through Biblical History and Culture) I bought several years back. I think it will do nicely for this event, and add some interesting aspects to my reading.

    I’m going to think on this and make a final decision, but consider this my intention to join you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I also wanted to read the Bible from a literary point of view. Never got around to it, of course. This might be the chance. I can’t promise to read all, but will try to follow the discussions. Although I have to participate with the Swedish version from 1917.


    • Ah, great! I think that’d be another fascinating perspective from a translation point of view!


  7. I’ve tried on my own and failed, so maybe other people is the trick to keep going. I will start, at least. I, too, am a fan of the King James Version, but I like the Archaeological Study idea. I think I will get one of those, too, and hope it helps keep my interest from flagging.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think study guides (even things like “The Idiot’s Guide to…”) are a bug help as well. They explain a lot of the history and context and remind readers about important connections across the books, like familial relations (one can only follow along for so many pages of “Son of… son of… son of…. nonsense).


    • Glad to hear someone else is interested in the archaeological bible. I’ve had it on my shelf for years, but since falling out with religion, haven’t had much motivation to read it. This is perfect. I’ve been thinking about doing this (reading it from a literary standpoint) for a while and now Adam has helped me put structure to it. 🙂


  8. I would like to join you. I have read some of the Bible and done Bible studies through my church but have never read the Bible from cover to cover nor as literature. I’m looking forward to this. Thank you for hosting.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Arrrrgggghhh what an idiot, sorry Adam! I’m very much looking forward to this project as I doubt I could manage it on my own.


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  10. I am in! One of my high school English teachers talked once about the Bible as Literature course she took in college, but I was never able to find a similar course at my university. I kept meaning to do it in my free time, but would get bogged down in all the begats and lose interest before getting out of the Pentateuch. Hopefully, your reading schedule coupled with discussions will help me conquer the #1 on my TBR list!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m in! I read the Bible as literature in college and feel that a refresher would be very e ticking.


  12. I just saw this and I am fascinated. I have not read much of the Christian Bible, just the Gospels. What a nice way to read this as a community. I have to think this through time-wise….And gee, I just have to say you are a man of many dimensions. It’s so good to know more about the book bloggers I follow!


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  15. I try to read the Bible through every year, and I have so many translations I’m almost embarrassed. The thing is, I’ve been a Christian for as many years as I can remember, and the Bible is new every time. There is always something fresh in this living, breathing word. Of course I understand and respect you reading it through as literature; I will fillow along in my new NRSV with joy and great interest. What a wonderful event you’re hosting!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m in. AsBelleza said, it is impossible to read it and receive a renewed message and understanding every time, so I’ll do my best to follow along and abide by the literary approach proposed. Interesting it is!


  17. This is awesome! Two weeks ago, I started reading from cover-to-cover, but I’m not super far…it’s a bit difficult going it alone?? And I LOVE LOVE LOVE this, because HELLO DISCUSSIONS ABOUT IT. In my reading it, though, I have also found it to be quite literature-esque—it’s rather beautiful in this way. As a writer, and someone who sees the underlining stories in television and film and books altogether, a lot of it feels relevant to the Bible. I don’t know how to explain it, but this seems cool. 😀


    • Marilynne Robinson wrote an excellent article back in 2011 about why literature folks (and writers) know, and need to know, the bible. Here’s an excerpt that I think says it well:

      “Literatures are self-referential by nature, and even when references to Scripture in contemporary fiction and poetry are no more than ornamental or rhetorical — indeed, even when they are unintentional — they are still a natural consequence of the persistence of a powerful literary tradition. Biblical allusions can suggest a degree of seriousness or significance their context in a modern fiction does not always support. This is no cause for alarm. Every fiction is a leap in the dark, and a failed grasp at seriousness is to be respected for what it attempts. In any case, these references demonstrate that in the culture there is a well of special meaning to be drawn upon that can make an obscure death a martyrdom and a gesture of forgiveness an act of grace. Whatever the state of belief of a writer or reader, such resonances have meaning that is more than ornamental, since they acknowledge complexity of experience of a kind that is the substance of fiction.”


      • Ah, I’m having trouble understanding this. 😅 I’m autistic, so language is sometimes hard for me to understand. Is she saying it’s bad when authors use the Bible for inspiration in their works?

        I feel perhaps hung up on the following, as it is where I got lost:

        Biblical allusions can suggest a degree of seriousness or significance their context in a modern fiction does not always support. This is no cause for alarm. Every fiction is a leap in the dark, and a failed grasp at seriousness is to be respected for what it attempts.


      • There, she means sometimes writers include serious biblical allusions when the nature of their story doesn’t really call for it. Think of a popular romance novel that might have a Christ figure, for example… probably not necessary.

        Liked by 1 person

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