I’ve recently started to read the Bible, the King James Version to be exact. It’s a nice little leather-bound book with gilded edges. I’ve had it for ages, well since I was last in college well over ten years ago, the exact date of purchase is lost to memory. What I can remember is the reason I bought it.
Having long-since abandoned my Catholic upbringing, I was persuaded to procure a copy of the religious text by an English Literature professor who made the claim that the classics we would be reading were in some way, shape, or form influenced by it. Of course, I never got around to actually reading the Bible or hardly any of the required readings for that class. It was during this period in my schooling that my thirst for knowledge and my work ethic towards learning were at an all-time low. I ended up either barely scraping by in that class with a ‘C’ or I dropped out entirely. Academically, it was a dark time for me.
And while I eventually pulled myself together and graduated from university with a less-than-respectable GPA, I’m ashamed to admit that I never really regained the spark of learning that I had carried with me through my younger years. Specifically, my love of reading and consuming books had dropped off considerably. Maybe it was because I had become an adult and the grind of real-life had taken so much of my energy previously used for leisure reading. But I feel like that’s a poor excuse.
Fast forward ten years or so forward and I find myself in the same sort of rut. That is, barely reading. It doesn’t help that I’m an infamously slow reader either. But again, that’s a lame excuse.
The problem is that I want to write about things I don’t really understand. I want to write about the Crusades, about witchcraft, about human mythology, about gods and God. I want to write about the innate power in the written word, in the sounds of cadence of storytelling. But how can I do any of that if I’m ignorant of so much? Sure, I can do what some writers do and pull it all out of thin air. I’m better than that though, right?
Then I saw it, that dusty little black-covered Holy Bible. I’d kept it on my bookshelf all these years, through three moves. Why? Because it looked nice. Because it made me seem like an open-minded agnostic. Because I knew that someday I would want to read it again. Well, I want to read it again.
As a writer, I feel like my ultimate quest is first understanding the human condition and then inscribing my interpretation of that condition onto the page. And while a big part of the understanding comes from actually living life (another area where I need to expand my knowledge), another part comes from knowing where we came from, exploring history and literature from all eras and nations. So I picked up the Bible, figuring it was as good a place as any to restart my journey.
As I said, I no longer consider myself Catholic but I don’t necessarily dislike religion. While I personally don’t feel a need or connection to any organized religion, I understand how it can help people find purpose or meaning in the seemingly unbalanced chaos of the universe. I’d like to read the book as one would read a work of literature. And I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. I suppose a better way to phrase that is I would like to experience the Bible from an outside perspective rather than as someone with an emotional attachment to the text.
It should be noted that I don’t plan on reading the Bible all in one go. Rather, I will be reading each book and then taking a break with other (fiction or historical) books in between. I will be doing this to prevent burnout and to ensure that I actually finish. I’m not sure how long this will take me but I have a feeling it will take the rest of the year and the better part of the next. At least.
I also plan to report out on each book once read. I will write about what I’ve learned and what new perspectives I’ve gained, on my thoughts of the stories presented and what perhaps they were meant to impart on the reader/listener.
I feel like this is the start of my classical literary re-education. And if you’d like to read more about it, please consider following this space.