12/11/2016

Daily Devotions (by Brad Haven)

Before I travelled to the UK in the Spring, I downloaded this free ‘devotional’ ebook for my Kindle. I had never heard of the author, Brad Haven, but it was on offer, free, and claimed to be a different way of studying the Bible over the course of a few months.

‘Daily Devotions’ is subtitled, ‘walking daily in the New Testament and Proverbs’. The introduction explains that there are 89 chapters in the Gospels, and that by reading one chapter per day, plus two chapters from other New Testament books in order, one can complete reading the entire New Testament in under three months. The author decided to add a ‘twist’, a section of the book of Proverbs, divided into 89 short sections, so that one of those is read each day.

The first few pages are quite interesting, outlining the system, the reasons behind it, and even some historical background; this is apparently known as the Rule of Optima in some monastic orders. The author briefly explains how it works, and also some excellent reasons for making a daily habit of reading the Bible, while also insisting that one should not give up or feel like a failure if a day or two get missed.

I then discovered that this, plus the Biblical text, is all there is to the book: there are no extra ‘thoughts’ or commentary. The author has done nothing, after the introduction, but compile together the system for reading the New Testament and Proverbs in this way. That’s not to say that it’s a bad thing: it is a very convenient way to read them, as everything is laid out, a day at a time, with the sections intended for reading. So I didn’t have to find different places in a Bible, either on my Kindle or a print version, in order to read the different sections in this way.

The idea is a good one, albeit not original, and I was a little surprised to find, towards the end, that sometimes there was only one extra New Testament chapter attached to a Gospel chapter, rather than two. However a little research explained this: there are 260 chapters in all, in the New Testament; subtracting the 89 which are part of one of the gospels leaves only 171: not quite sufficient to enable two per day.

I wasn’t all that impressed with the particular Bible translation used. I’m not sure which one it is, and didn’t recognise it, but in places found it quite convoluted in its use of language, without the beauty of some of the older versions, nor the clarity of some more modern ones. Perhaps this was for copyright reasons; it wasn’t a problem as I had read all these passages before, many times, but for someone reading them for the first time, it tends to make it sound rather complex, even the Gospels which were originally written in quite straightforward Greek.

However, as a constructive way of reading set sections of the Bible while travelling - and it took me over six months to finish, interspersed with other things, and sometimes only reading half of the day’s assigned passages - I would rate the idea, and the layout quite highly.

For anyone interested in this way of reading the New Testament, it's certainly worth downloading if it’s still offered at no cost. Only available on Kindle, as far as I know.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's Book Reviews

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