It is useful to recall that the Bible is a library, not a book – God’s Folio, as it were, a collection of permanent and unchanging texts.
It is also good to remember that God was not the curator of the texts. Church Fathers were. (Some books written by women were considered but not included.) We are therefore in a situation of source analysis: primary or secondary, required or recommended.
Born to a pastor’s home and being rather biddable, I did not set out to reach that atypical conclusion. Rather, I reached it out of an honest hungering for answers: “How then shall [I] live?”
So among the 66 God-inspired books by 40 authors written over about 1600 years, I play favorites. I choose. Some I deem essential, while others are optional, though good and powerful. Hamlet outranks both Timon of Athens and Othello.
So, my list of Biblical must-reads consists of the following: Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Ruth, Nehemiah, Esther, Psalms 1, 23, 34, 42, 46, 103, 121, Isaiah, Daniel, Jonah, Haggai, Luke, John, Hebrews, James.
This 2013 year, I will (re)read those books.
I believe my choices are inspired, but they all have applications to me, to Haiti. They offer ways of increasing goodness and joy, and reduce brokenness and misery.
What matters, of course, is to read Biblical texts, all or few or one. Concerning this, the Church Fathers were right: the Bible is alive and mighty to change, to transform.
As for my list, it may prove much too ambitious. For a couple of years running, I have found it impossible to get away from Genesis!
God said, and there was – little else seems required.