Pros: Literally takes only minutes a day, very easy to understand and apply to study.
Cons: Filling in the blanks can be tedious.
Sounds a bit like an infomercial pitch, doesn't it? Well it's not, it's about a book that is incredibly helpful in gaining a basic understanding.
Studying the Bible can be hard. Really hard. It starts with creation and ends with the end of the world as we know it but all the stuff in between can be very confusing. People living for hundreds of years, great floods that wipe out all but one guy and his family, miraculous births, people being raised from the dead, people and places with crazy names. And its not even in in chronological order; it jumps all over the place. No wonder its so confusing to study and understand. And if you have a version of the Bible thats not been translated into easy to understand English, it can be downright impossible to figure out whats what.
But it just doesnt make any sense!
I was not raised in a religious home but the older I get the more spiritual Ive become and Im enjoying studying Christianity and the Bible. But it wasnt easy for me. I never once read the Bible for any length of time when I was young as it just didnt make any sense to me. I understand the beginning and the end and some basic things about Jesus. I knew that there was an Old Testament and a New Testament but that was about it. Then one day a friend from church shoved a book under my nose while she and I were browsing around the church book store. That book was 30 Days to Understanding the Bible in 15 Minutes a Day. and it helped me tremendously to gain a better understanding of the big picture.
From the back page: Imagine how much you could know about the Bible this time next month. Just fifteen minutes a day. For thirty days. And you could have a firm grasp on the roadmap of biblical history, the core teachings of the Scripture, the lay of its geographical landscape, and key characters, places, and events in order!
With 30 Days to Understanding the Bible, youll move through the Scriptures in leaps and bounds, but surprisingly be able to comprehend specific names and details, information that unlocks the whole Bible so that you can jump in at any point and know right where you are. And now, all-new features make the journey more memorable than ever! The Arc of Bible Introduction helps you visualize the Bibles overarching themes. The Story of the Bible zooms you from Genesis to Revelation in about 1,000 words.
Youll even find a new 12-week teaching plan complete with overhead transparency masters that will help you teach or study with a class or small group. Thses innovative charts and exercises have already brought the Bibles organization and message home to literally hundreds of thousands. And thirty days from now, you could be there yourself.
OK so why is this book so amazing and helpful?
Well its amazing and helpful for a number of reasons. First off, it only takes a few minutes a day. There were days when I spent five or ten minutes reading the daily chapter and there were days where it took more like 20 minutes, but my point is that it is quick. It really only takes a few minutes a day. The chapters are only a few pages each and they include lots of lists and diagrams which explain the structure, the books of the Old and New Testaments, the types of each book in the Bible (historical, poetical, prophetical), time lines, and maps. At the end of each chapter is a self-test with just a few questions which help to stamp the information on the brain of the reader. The maps in the book give the biblical names of cities, bodies of water, mountain ranges, etc but also include the present-day names as well. This makes the Bible really come to life because those places still exist but are now called Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf, etc so it is easier to visualize them as places that we already know so much about. Many of the self-tests involve labeling the cities and bodies of water on blank maps to reinforce what youve learned.
Several chapters of 30 Days to Understanding the Bible discuss the Arc of Bible Introduction. The Arc is a visual aid that, again, helps to learn the books in the historical category and builds upon what you learned the previous day. The Arc is made up of squares that go from left to right. Each square represents one of the nine main eras of the Old Testament which are: Creation, Patriarch, Exodus, Conquest, Judges, Kingdom, Exile, Return, and Silence. One full chapter of the book describes each era, the prominent figure or character involved with that era, and a description. For example, the creation era is described as the first man and the figure is Adam. Much of this chapter involves fill in the blank exercises that ask the reader to fill in the era, figure, and description from memory.
The next nine chapters of the book delve into each era and figure in the historical books in greater detail and include more fill in the blank exercises thru out and in the self-tests. The exercises can start to become tedious as youre filling in the same information over and over again but its a good way to commit the information to memory. I liked this method as Im a big fan of flash cards so this learning style very much suits me. No one is standing there with forcing you to fill in the blanks so if thats not your style dont do it, but it is very helpful to ingrain the information into your memory.
Chapters 13 and 14 discuss the few poetical and prophetical books. There are exercises and a review after each chapter but the repetition in the Arc chapters is finished so there are just some basic fill in the blank and multiple choice questions.
Section two of 30 Days to Understanding the Bible deals with the books that make up the New Testament and is in the exact same format of section one in that it includes lots of fill in the blanks, fill in the maps, and multiple choice questions. Only section two introduces the Arc of Bible History. This Arc is nearly identical to the previous arc except that there are 12 squares and the grids that the reader fills in includes the location. For example, the Gospels era is described as the time when Jesus (the prominent figure of the era) comes in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. The location is Palestine. Chapters 15 19 explain the Arc of Bible History in great detail.
Section three is a general overview of the Bible starting with a comparison of the four Gospels. This is followed by chapters detailing Jesus parables, miracles in the Bible, prophecies, Passover and the Last Supper and the Resurrection and ends with chapter 25. The last five chapters of the book dont really deal with understanding the Bible as much as they deal with Christianity in general, how to be related with God, with yourself, and with others. These chapters were kind of touchy feely and not all that helpful to me.
The appendix contains all of the answers to the exercises and reviews as well as transparency masters of all maps, lists, and the arcs.
Although I found some of the repetitive filling in of blanks a bit annoying on some days, I really liked this book and have recommended it to many people who also enjoyed it. It is a great tool for quickly understanding the structure, geography, and content of the Bible.
See some of my reviews of other spiritual books here:
The Complete Book of Questions: 1001 Conversation Starters for Any Occasion
30 Days to Understanding the Bible
Ending Your Day Right