Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Read through the TNIV in 90 Days

You may have seen the Bible in 90 Days curriculum at your local bookstore. Although this sounds like a highly ambitious challenge, reading the Bible in 90 days only means reading about 12 pages a day in a specially formatted NIV Thinline Bible. Of course you can certainly read through the Bible on your own in 90 days, and technically you don't need a special Bible (simply take the complete page numbers in any Bible and divide by 90!). However, attempting to complete a goal like this within a group creates for better accountability and raises the odds that you will actually finish on time. I'm contemplating leading a group at my church through this program this summer if there's enough interest.

So what does any of this have to do with the TNIV? Well, I noticed while looking at the curriculum that it's also been adapted for those who want to use the TNIV instead of the NIV. Page numbers in this plan can be used with The TNIV Bible: Timeless Truth in Today's Language or the TNIV Thinline XL, Larger Print Edition.

As I said, I'm contemplating leading a group at church through this program if there's enough interest. I have the XL edition of the TNIV mentioned above, so I would probably use that Bible. I'd be interested to hear from others who have gone through the Bible in 90 Days (the actual program/plan). Did you use one of the adapted Bibles or your own? Did you make this goal by yourself, or did you participate in a group using the curriculum? If you were in a group, what was the success rate like regarding those who actually finished reading the Bible in 90 days?


anonymous said...

I read through this and the associated materials after you mentioned it -- I think you said your wife was going through it. Here are the contents of the leader's kit:

The Bible is just a standard thinline Bible with a checklist and daily readings in it -- nothing special. It is convenient that resource plans are printed in the Bible and the start-stop portions are printed, but nothing special

The Resource CD contains the following:

* Color PDF posters in various sizes (in legal, letter, and half sizes)

* Color and black and white reading plan bookmarks (which, unlike the bookmark you mentioned, don't have specific dates next to them -- it would be easy enough for you to generate personalized reading plans for your study group.)

* Listening plans keyed to the NIV Audio Bible CD and MP3 versions (once again, easy for a reader to create).

* An audio sample of the NIV Audio Bible.

* An electronic copy of the Leader's Guide (which is also available in printed form -- see below)

* A powerpoint template (in case you want to make powerpoint slides with Zondervan logos on it -- this looks completely useless to me)

* A one page PDF sheet with tips on how to choose facilitators for smaller study groups, if you have a large class

* A one page PDF sheet with tips on creating "accountability name tags" (namely name tags that are color coded based on whether you have read the week's assignment or not.

The Leader's Guide is and contains a few tips. It is only 48 pages long and the plans usually are organized as follows:

* Welcome activities: 5 minutes of passing out name tags, a product-oriented prayer.

* Group activities: 8 minutes of discussion on the experience itself; and 12 minutes considering a "big picture question" raised by the text

* Watching the video: (20-27 minutes) (see below for my comments on the video)

* Video discussion: (5 minutes optional)

* Coming weeks reading: (2 minutes)
Two minutes for a shallow overview (a sentence or two per book) of their reading.

* Closing prayer: (1 minutes)

The Participants Guide is also organized by weeks -- it is a bound paperback with 144 pages that is mostly white spaces. It is organized by week. Here are the complete contents for Week 2:


Discuss Today: pages 1-84 of NIV Bible in 90 Days (Gen. 1:1-Ex. 40:38)
Reading for the Coming Week: pages 84-168 of NIV Bible in 90 Days (Lev. 1:1-Deut. 23:11)


Reading Follow-up

1 How was your reading this week? What challenges did you face in getting your reading done? What was the most effective thing did to meet those challenges?

2 What kind of reading routine seems to work best for you, given your activities and schedule?

3 As you read the Bible this week, which particular thought(s) and/or event(s) stood out to you or surprised you? Why?

4 Which question(s) came up during your reading for which you'd like to find answers?


Note: The following questions are intended to stimulate discussion. There is no need to answer them prior to your class or small group meeting.

1 In what ways did Adam and Eve's sin affect their offspring and the world in which they lived?

2 What kind of man was Abraham? What plans did God want to accomplish through him? What did God command himself to do? (See Gen. 12:2-3; 17:7-8)

3 As you read about what happened to Joseph and how situations in his life worked out, what surprised you? If you were writing a novel about his life, what would you title it? Why?

4 In what ways do you think Moses changed between his time in the Egyptian court and when God spoke to him from the burning bush forty years later? What do Moses' objections to God's call to deliver Israel from bondage reveal about his insecurities and view of God? (See Ex. 3:11,13; 4:1,10,13.)

5 What sort of a picture of God are you developing through your reading so far? What are some of God's characteristics and attributes, and how did he demonstrate them to his chosen people?

6 What do you think was God's purpose in providing the Israelites with so many specific instructions regarding daily life and worship? What did God demonstrate, through the tabernacle, about his commitment to be with his people?


* The book of Genesis establishes four great principles that ar crucial to our understanding of God's Word: (1) God brings order out of chaos by making distinctions and setting limits. (2) Man was created in the image and likeness of God. After the fall, he retained the image but not the likeness. (3) Life involves choices, and choices have consequences, so choose wisely. (4) Satan's strategy is to humanize God (doubt the Word); minimize sin (deny the Word); and deify man (replace the Word).

* The ancient Egyptians revered and worshiped many gods, including snakes. When Moses' staff miraculously became a snake that swallowed up the Egyptian magicians' snakes (Ex. 7:8-13), God demonstrated his power over the pharaoh and Egypt's gods. Furthermore, the plagues God sent to the Egyptians directly confronted and rebuked their worship of other gods. The Nile River, which turned to blood, was linked to the god Hapi. Frogs were linked to the goddess Heqt. The cows that died during the livestock plague were linked to Hathor, the cow-god; Khnum, the ram-god; and the Egyptian bull-gods Apis and Mnevis (NIV Study Bible, notes for Ex. 8:2, 9:3). God wanted the ancient to realize he alone was God Almighty, the I AM WHO I AM (Ex. 3:14).

* God instructed Moses to have the people build a tabernacle so God could have a visible place to live among his people. The building and furnishing of the tabernacle utilized the people's skills in spinning, weaving, and dying fibers; embroidery; rounding, polishing, and engraving precious and semi-precious stones; gold and silver work (Zondervan Handbook to the Bible, 169, 174). They gladly committed their work and wealth to "God's tent," and when it was completed, the visible symbols of God's presence -- his cloud by name and the fire by night -- rested on the tabernacle and filled it with the light of his glory. For the next 300 years, until Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, the tabernacle was the focus of the nation's worship (Handbook, 179)


(blank page)


1 As you watched the video, which particular point(s) stood out to you? Why?

2 Which aspect of the video particularly enhanced your understanding of what you read this past week?

3 What would you identify as the key themes of this portion of Scripture?

4 What impact can what you've just seen make on your life today?


This Week's Reading Tip: At least once during this week, try breaking your daily reading routine into two or more sessions.

Leviticus Overview: Leviticus is essentially the rule book for Israel's priests. All of the laws spring from God's covenant with his chosen people. The Hebrews had grown up in slavery, so these laws are part of the process God used to mold them into the people they needed to be before they entered the Promised Land. These laws are about relationships: the relationships they were to have with one another and the relationship they wer to have with their God. As you read, notice the unchanging character of God and our human need for forgiveness and a restored relationship with God. Leviticus helps us understand why we need to be holy and why it was necessary for Jesus to stand in our place and die for our sins (Handbook, 181).

Numbers Overview: The Hebrew name of the book of Numbers means "in the desert." And that's what Numbers is all about. As the Israelites approach the Promised Land of Canaan, they must choose whether or not to trust their God. Notice what happens when they focus on circumstances and feelings rather than on what God promises to do for them. After denying God's character and promises, they face his judgment -- thirty-eight more years in the wilderness.

Deuteronomy Overview: While reading Deuteronomy, you'll experience your first does of extended repetition in the Bible. Although it can make for tedious reading, embrace the repetition as an opportunity to order biblical events more firmly in your mind. This book is important because it greatly influenced Judah and Israel's prophets, who in turn influenced key New Testament characters such as Paul and Jesus. As you read, notice the emphasis on worshiping God and God alone. Note how often Moses mentions that God will fulfill his promise to Abraham and give the Israelites the Promised Land.

Read This Week: Pages 84-168 of the NIV Bible in 90 Days (Lev. 1:1- Deut. 23:11).

Personal Progress: If it is helpful to do so, use the following chart to record your reading progress during the coming week. Establish a reading schedule that works well for you and stick with it. If you are behind in your reading, set aside extra time this week to catch up. [A small chart appears here]

Personal Reading Notes: Take a moment to record the highlights -- knowledge gained, puzzling questions, "aha! moments" -- you experience during your reading this week.

Try It!

Memorize the names of the next five books of the Bible


After you've mastered the names above, try recalling all the books you've memorized so far

The last component of the kit, the DVDs, are both more and less useful. They feature an extended promotion from the creator, Ted Cooper Jr. which is slightly interesting but not essential, and then two sets of weekly lectures: one is by Jack Modesett Jr. (chairman of the board of Christianity Today and a radio preacher) -- these are useless -- they rarely actually touch on the reading and instead deal with social issues (such as abortion) in a typical "Christian radio" style.
Much more useful are the lectures by John Walton and Mark Strauss, which are reasonably good for this audience -- they hit on the high points and and have some good insights. If you find value in this kit, I suspect it will be from the Walton/Strauss lectures.


Here are a few observations on the materials. There is absolutely no need to use any particular translation at all with this kit. Indeed, I would think that here is a place where the NLT2 might serve quite well, given that this curriculum does not "aim high."

The participants guides might be acceptable, but they certainly "aim low", so it would also be easy to make your own handouts or to use a standard simple "introduction to the bible." I don't think the lessons plans in the leader's guide are well thought out or helpful (if you'd like to take a look at them, I can e-mail you the PDF of it). The posters etc all mainly advertise Zondervan, so if I were running such a program, I'd make my own. (Again, if you'd like to take a look, I can e-mail you the PDFs)

Perhaps the best part of the program is the Walton/Strauss lectures, although I'm not sure that it is a good idea to turn on the TV during a lecture or meeting -- people tend to zone out when watching TV. I think if I were teaching such a program, I'd keep only the schedule and make my own lectures and materials -- although, of course, that would require more time.

I can't claim to have reviewed many of these types of programs, but I am not sure it would compare favorably to the UMC's Discipleship programs or the Pastor's Bible Study series from Abingdon.

And of course, at the pace recommended, one only at best gets the "big picture" view of the Bible and misses so many interesting details.

Still, I think it is a useful program and one that will bring pride to a number of people. I'm not sure I agree with the idea of using color coded name tags (based on progress), but I can imagine it might help bring people along.

My advice: Get the leader's kit and review the material (especially the DVDs) for yourself. If you decided to use it, adapt those materials (or, if you feel ambitious, make them for yourself). Pick the easiest Bible translation you feel comfortable with -- I think the TNIV or NLT2 or another "easy reading" translation would be a good choice for a general (not necessarily college-educated) audience who did not have experience reading Scripture. While I wouldn't recommend such versions normally, someone reading at this pace probably won't have the opportunity to appreciate subtleties.

I have participated in similar program where one reads, over a seven year and a half-year period, the entire Talmud (which, when the commentaries are included, is a larger amount of reading each day than the Bible in 90 Days provides) -- although, of course, in this case one is reading Aramaic and Hebrew -- this program is called "daf yomi" and is widely supported with a variety of online lectures, classes, lecture groups, study material, etc. on a daily basis. It also is exciting because one is reading the precise same material on that day that tens of thousands of other learners are reading, and even if one his own, there is a certain feeling of solidarity in this. I found the discipline of reading a complicated text in large amounts on a daily basis very useful, although at such a pace one hardly has time for the detailed careful reading that I prefer.

Peter Kirk said...

Interesting! This package and its packaging (even down to those PowerPoint templates) reminds me of Rick Warren's "40 Days of Purpose" course which my church did last year (and we did use its PowerPoint templates). Both are Zondervan products. Is the idea that a whole church spends 90 days doing this corporately? As such I can see that it might work, although in many ways the 40 Days of Purpose was long enough for such a focus.

R. Mansfield said...

It could be done church wide, but I believe the curriculum is designed primarily for small group use.

anonymous said...

I would like to point out that for those in a hurry, there is a faster alternative. The publishing house affiliated with the Southern Baptists, Broadman and Holman publishes the Lightspeed Bible which they claim can be read in 24 hours:

The Light Speed Bible offers a study program that can empower anyone with at least seventh-grade reading ability to read every word of the entire Bible in 24 hours or less-with good comprehension. Or if readers want to start with the New Testament using the Light Speed Bible strategy, the average time it will take to read every word and phrase from Matthew 1 through Revelation 22 is about five hours. Furthermore, these total times include not just one but three passes through the entire text--an experience that will transform lives through exposure to the whole Word of God.

And not to be outdone, there is even a 100 Minute Bible, although, I gather, this is just a set of biblical highlights.

It is true, that if I sat down and read one of the popular "easy-reading" translations in the same way that I read P. G. Wodehouse novels, I could certainly finish it quickly -- I'm a fast reader, so probably in less than 12 hours cover to cover. But such an experience would be of dubious value, at best. The value from reading Scripture comes not from the torrent of words, but from carefully considering the issues and text raised -- meditating on each passage.

Still, I think these sort of programs could be useful to parishioners. First, they would have actually read the Bible through, so they would hopefully retain at least a broad overview of themes and styles. Second, they would have the pride of having read the Bible through, and so could feel empowered to go back and read it more carefully.

So more power to you (and all those readers) ... let us know how it goes with the program.

Peter Kirk said...

Anon, are you sure you didn't get your latest information about rapid Bible reading from Tominthebox? It sounds about as believable, at the opposite extreme, as Tom's latest post.

anonymous said...

Regrettably, as you can see from my links, my examples are all true. But if you wish to read comment on it, you may wish to consult a source that some consider even more reliable than satirical blogs, the Wall Street Journal.

R. Mansfield said...

Unless someone has great amounts of time on their (singular they used on purpose) hands, I don't recommend either plan for an ongoing devotional strategy.

But 90 days to read the Bible completely through in a group context has value for those who have never had success reading all the way through the scriptures, and possibly developing habbits for reading at a lesser pace afterwards.

I always tell people to read the Bible everyday, and study the Bible one or two times a week. To me there's a difference between reading (devotionally) and studying (which will require other tools). Most of the people in our churches will say that they've never read through the Bible, but they would like to. A program like the 90-day is more intense than say, a One-Year Bible, but it's really not all that difficult or time consuming. And it will help our church members get the big picture of scripture, help them fulfill a goal of reading through the Bible, and hopefully create a habit of daily Bible reading that they can continue pursuing afterwards.

anonymous said...

I agree with you point. However, I would like to express one of my concerns with the actual Bible in 90 Days curriculum (rather than the abstract concept.)

90 days is quite a long time -- it is comparable to a college semester -- and one can certainly take a very meaningful class in a college semester.

Now the Bible is interesting using many different approaches and levels. It is certainly interesting at the level of books and broad themes, but it is also nice to introduce students to a finer level of analysis as well. Now, perhaps the people in your church already get this from the regular sermons or from other classes, but if I were teaching this course, I would have students spend time analyzing certain passages while still reading the main text. This is not that different than from what is done in literature classes; most students read Milton's Paradise Lost and a Shakespearian play in college or high school, and a typical assignment will have the student read the entire work but analyze in depth a shorter passage. I would be happier if the Bible in 90 Days curriculum had a health mix of analysis at a variety of levels to introduce readers to the complexity and wonder of Scripture.

I think this could be easily integrated into the curriculum (through the weekly sessions, for example) without slowing down or distracting students.

Of course, having students read the Bible (even on shallow terms) is better than not having them read it.