Give me 15 minutes a day for 30 days, author Max Anders says in his introduction to 30 Days to Understanding the Bible, and “I’ll give you an understanding of the Bible.”
That’s a pretty big promise, but seeing as how this book has been in print for the past three decades (I just received the 30th anniversary edition to read and review, and the author even signed it for me!) there must be something to it.
I was intrigued, so I started reading the book the day it came in the mail. And I decided to do something a little different in terms of writing a review. I’m going to walk you through the book as I read it – one chapter at a time each day.
30 Days? But There Are More Than 30 Chapters
Before I started reading this book, I thought I could read a chapter a day and be done in 30 days. But, according to the table of contents, there are 38 chapters – plus an introduction and appendix. I guess the idea here is that some chapters will not take you the full 15 minutes to read, but for the sake of simplicity I’m going to stick to one chapter per blog post. So, it may very well take me more than 30 days to share my journey through this book with you all.
Day 1: All About the Structure
Just as is the case with any good book, the Bible has a very definite structure guiding the way its information is presented. Once you understand the structure, you can better understand how to interpret what you’re reading.
The Bible isn’t a continuous story that follows a certain chronological order. It’s a larger work containing various other books of different types. Anders simplifies the books of the Old and New Testaments so that they fit into one of three categories each.
In the Old Testament, we have books of history (17), poetry (5), and prophecy (17). Now, I’ve seen other people break down the books of prophecy into the major and minor prophets, but I don’t think the average Bible reader needs to worry about that distinction. I like Anders’s simplification here. And I love the timeline he includes, so you know exactly how the Old Testament books line up chronologically.
In the New Testament, we have books of history (5), Pauline epistles (13), and the general epistles (9). And thanks to the self-test included at the end of the chapter, I remembered all those categories and the numbers of books contained in each. I didn’t even have to check!
The self-tests are truly one of the best things about this book. They really help solidify what you’re learning, and that goes a long way toward fulfilling Anders’s promise that you’re going to understand the Bible better by the time you finish reading this book.
Although I’m really impressed overall with this chapter, I want to include mention of one caveat in relation to the author’s initial promise.
True understanding of the Bible cannot be achieved apart from the Holy Spirit. That’s why those who don’t belong to Jesus can’t really ever understand what the scriptures contain. Head knowledge of the Bible is great, but heart knowledge is better.
I pray that anyone reading this who doesn’t personally know Jesus as Lord and Savior will get to know Him in that way. That’s so much better than any degree of understanding of the Bible!