Ancient book study – Introduction

One of the things I want to spend more time doing is reading ancient texts, in particular Japanese and Chinese texts, in order to understand how people living a long time ago, in a completely different culture, thought about the world. Reading such a text, however, is a very demanding endeavour: Even if there is a translation available with accurate, yet flowing language, the whole cultural context is just too different. I don’t know any of the person- or place names, and I don’t understand the concepts that are being discussed. With nothing to “grab onto”, I easily lose the thread, and my interest, and give up after a short time.

Then last year, I remembered that there is this really ancient book, recording the strange world-view and practices of a small, far-away pastoral tribe, which has been extensively studied and translated by scholars for millennia, and whose cultural context is largely intertwined with my own culture. I even had a class in school for nine years that was almost entirely dedicated to teaching the contents of this book. I therefore decided that if I ever was to properly study, and understand, an ancient book, it might as well be this one.

I went ahead and bought The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version, An Ecumenical Study Bible, and lately I’ve finally started reading it too. In order to organize my thoughts, create some sort of output, and in general motivate me to finish this project, I’ve also decided to post a summary of the Bible here, one chapter a day. Hopefully that’s slow enough that I won’t stop because of the intense publication pressure. Since the Bible contains 1189 chapters (most of them in the Old Testament), this should only take a little more than three years.

I follow the order of the Oxford Bible; I start with the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, with the first of the five books of the Pentateuch: Genesis.



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