Getting Swept Away

As a writer, I have great admiration for authors who write books that readers find impossible to put down.

I still recall one torturous day when, commuting to my job in downtown Portland, I arrived at a cliffhanger moment in the novel I was reading at precisely the moment I was supposed to start work. Putting that book away in my desk drawer was a sheer act of self-control.

So why is Bible reading a recurring New Year’s resolution along with other things we need to do (like dieting and exercise) but that require “discipline” to sustain? Considering that it hasn’t been all that long since we’ve had access to this book and that it stands apart and above all other books as God’s revelation to us and as the bestselling book of all time, you’d think the Bible would be the one book we’re dying to get our hands on and struggling to put down.

Why is reading the Bible viewed as a duty?

Professor N.T. Wright thinks at least part of the problem is our habit of reading the Bible in fragments that detract us from the grand and gripping story the Bible is telling and that we are part of. In the video below he presents a more compelling approach—challenging readers to get swept away by what God is doing from creation to eternity instead of being governed by chapter and verse breaks.

Readers who want to “dive in” and “swim around” as Dr. Wright suggests may appreciate a little help. I was excited to learn about a break-through version of the Bible that makes the Bible read like the story it really is and makes it easier to get swept away.

The Books of the Bible removes all those inserted chapter and verse numbers to recover the story nature of the Bible. Each book of the Bible starts with a well-written introduction to help new and experienced readers gain more from reading.

The short video below explains the thinking behind this design.

“Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest. The Books of the Bible sweeps away many of the pious additions that can obscure the ancient text of Scripture, revealing connections that readers have all too often missed. I will be turning to this edition often to clear my mind and refocus my attention on the grand story that addresses us from the Bible’s pages.”

—Andy Crouch

I find when I read this version that I do get swept away by the story and keep reading. It comes in two versions—the whole Bible and just the New Testament.

Churches are using the N.T. version for small book clubs in their congregations. You can find information on how to do that at 

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3 Responses to Getting Swept Away

  1. Francis H Geis says:

    I thought N.T. Wright's on reading books of the Bible as a whole in one sitting, or over a couple of days, was good. As for the “Books of the Bible” version presentation–maybe it's due to my age or appreciation of scholarship–but I'm not convinced it's the best means of solving the problem of understanding and applying Scripture.


  2. metargemet says:

    I started reading a one-year version of “The Message” in daily portions. The chapter and verse numbers have also been removed here, and sometimes catch myself peeking ahead at the end of the daily portion to the next one. I nvere did this in a traditional Bible, even though I've been reading it for three quarters of my life. So changing the format, at least for straight reading, does have something to say for it.


  3. Carolyn says:


    I agree with you on both counts—I love N.T. Wright's recommendations. And, like you, I would hate to be left on my own and deprived of what scholars (like Dr. Wright) are learning that will teach and stretch me and help me go deeper in my understanding of the Bible. Having said that, no matter how many resources or “experts” we have, we're all always going to be on the learning vs mastery end of things. The Books of the Bible isn't a complete solution, nor does it pretend to be. But they've taken a solid step in the right direction by making the Bible more readable and inviting for a lot of people who would otherwise pass on the Bible.

    Excellent point, Metargemet. I find reading different translations can be extremely enriching.

    Eugene Peterson developed The Message to get his parishioners to read the Bible in language that made more sense to them. I'm glad those of us outside his parish have access to his work.

    My personal favorite is the New Living Translation which I wish I'd had when my daughter was little and I was reading to her. But I do tend to reference a variety of translations, especially when I'm studying.


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