A beautiful end

I'm just two days away from finishing the project now.

The book of Revelation has been a challenge, but not nearly as hard as I feared. Interest in the project has picked up and I've been wryly conscious of the apocalyptic proclamations that greet visitors on this home stretch.

For many months now I've only really read the chapter for the day each day, not looking ahead much. But conscious of wanting to finish well I decided to look over Revelation 21 and 22 this afternoon. I'm amazed again at the breath-taking beauty of the final vision.

It's a big deal for me personally to reach the end of the project, but Scripture doesn't leave much room for introspection. It's a truly transcendent finale. I'm so glad to finish the @biblesummary account with these two chapters to come...

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The end is nigh!

It's a book a day for the next three days - just one chapter apiece for 2 John, 3 John and Jude. Then on to the intimidating finale.

Famously difficult to interpret, the book of Revelation has loomed large from the very beginning of the project. One of the (thankfully few) negative responses to the project has been people questioning whether I'm flouting the warning at the end of Revelation not to 'add or take anything away' from the word of God.

I'm very confident that the warning doesn't apply to a devotional endeavour like Bible Summary. (What I'm doing is not really that different from simply taking notes on my Bible reading.) But I'm conscious every day of how much I have to leave out of my summaries, and the incomplete picture they therefore give. That effect will only be exacerbated with a book as complex and layered as Revelation.

That said, I always get the most out of summarising the more challenging sections of Scripture. And the days are counting down so quickly now. I'm actually quite glad to have a steep climb up to the summit.

Time, times and almost half a time. Just 25 days to go...

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100 days to go

I've completed 1089 of the 1189 chapters!

I'm enjoying summarising Paul's letters a great deal. My excitement as I started Romans a few weeks ago probably reveals how much I'm an Evangelical at heart.

I think I've benefitted most from the project when I've been wrestling with less familiar sections, but these chapters of Paul effortlessly fill my mind with interesting and edifying ideas for the whole day. Which possibly just means I need to read the other sections more attentively.

People keep asking me about the end of the project now, and I'm thinking about it more and more. Here are answers to a few common questions...

How do I feel now I'm nearing the end? So excited at the prospect of finishing what I set out to do almost three years ago now. It's surreal to be getting to this point.

Am I looking forward to summarising Revelation? It's an intimidating end, no mistake, but that's been true about several sections and they've all been alright.

Am I going to publish the whole thing as a book? Yes, hopefully. I'm exploring my options.

What am I going to do afterwards? Start again at the beginning..! Seriously though, I do have a couple of ideas for other projects. But perhaps I should take my Bible reading out of the public domain for a time.

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I'm about to start the book of Ezekiel. It's the last book that will take over a month to complete.

There are a number of famous passages in Ezekiel, not least the valley of dry bones which I've probably heard preached on as often as any other passage. But I really don't have a sense of the overall message.

I do know that we start with one of the most mind-bending visions in scripture. So without further ado...

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The Prophets

It's been a while since I commented on the current themes.

I'm less familiar with the Prophets than any other section of Scripture, so this is an interesting part of the project. I've been spending much longer on the summaries than usual, mainly just trying to figure out what's actually being said.

As I've said before, keeping that discipline with the more obscure books is turning out to be the biggest benefit of the project for me personally.

My confidence with Isaiah has increased immeasurably over the last two months, and I'm looking forward to hopefully the same effect with Jeremiah.

I can't believe how quickly the months are passing! Isaiah seemed an age away when I started, but now it's done. This time next year I'll be on the home straight.

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Two years

It's two years to the day since I started Bible Summary. And what a chapter to celebrate! Isaiah 53 is surely one of the greatest in Scripture.

Some parts of the Old Testament seem to point only very obliquely towards the New, but not in this second section of Isaiah. Every chapter is rich with anticipation of Christ.

To ice the birthday cake, I also just passed 100,000 characters for the project.

Thanks again for all your encouragement. November 2013 is beginning to seem not so far away. What am I going to do when I finish?

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Meaningless, meaningless!

I love the book of Ecclesiastes. It's known as one of the most miserable books in the Bible, but where others see only doom and gloom, I consistently find reassurance that my bleaker thoughts are not outside of what Scripture comprehends.

I first discovered Ecclesiastes in the midst of teenage depression. Until that point I'd thought that the Bible was all rules, platitudes and miraculous stories (how little I knew!). I was astonished to find a book that more than understood my fairly negative take on the world.

"Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless!" (Ecclesiates 1.2)

Ecclesiastes has been a touchstone for me ever since. And I've found as much treasure in it for the highs as for the lows.

A number of months back I was invited to contribute study notes for a forthcoming edition of the Youth Bible. I was unsurprised to find that Ecclesiastes was still available and I jumped at the chance.

I had recently started Bible Summary, and I decided to skip ahead and write chapter summaries as a way of getting to grips with the key themes. So I'll be starting Ecclesiastes tomorrow with a provisional set of summaries for the whole book.

It will be interesting to see how many of the provisional summaries make the final cut. (And, for that matter, how much of what I wrote for the Youth Bible makes the final publication. I'll let you know when it comes out!)

"Of the making of books there is no end." (Ecclesiastes 12.12)

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Challenging Proverbs

Chapters 10 to 29 of Proverbs pose two particular challenges for the discerning Bible summariser:

Firstly, the lack of structure.

Chapters 1 to 9 have a very coherent overall theme - wisdom against folly - and each chapter develops an aspect of the theme. By contrast, in chapters 10 to 29 there are about a dozen main themes, which are mixed together verse by verse with no apparent order.

My method for the project so far has been to build a summary around the key themes of each chapter. But there don't seem to be themes in these chapters!

Secondly, the irreducibility of a proverb.

Individual proverbs are actually very well suited to Twitter as a medium. Most proverbs are 140 characters or less, and they convey a single, clear idea through a pair of contrasting examples.

But I'm trying to summarise an entire chapter of proverbs in each tweet. It's very difficult to reduce the length of a proverb without losing precisely the grit that makes it profound in the first place.

So, what am I going to do?

I think I'm just going to pick the three or four images that strike me most from each chapter. I'll look for proverbs that capture the heart of one of the broader themes within the book, and over the course of the 20 chapters I'll aim to cover all the main themes.

I won't even try to preserve the pair-of-contrasting-examples form.

It will be interesting to see whether this exercise reveals structure that I haven't noticed before, or whether I'll be left feeling more than ever that it's impossible to do justice to Scripture within the constraints that I've imposed.

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The Psalms

Here we go - I'll be starting the Psalms tomorrow!

I was worried that I would be tired of the daily summaries by the time I got here, and that five months in one book would finish me off. But I don't think I've looked forward to any book more!

In my day job, as Director of Worship at King's Church Durham, I've been challenging myself to include a Psalm each time we gather for worship. That may sound obvious, but our diet has been very much focussed around hymns and songs. It's been incredibly enriching to explicitly link our worship with the songs of Scripture.

The Psalms are a kind of lexicon of worship. Given how much my understanding of the other books I've summarised has grown, I'm really excited to discover what the impact of working through the Psalms will be.

I'm also really looking forward to tweeting straightforward praise of God each day!

I think the Psalms are a kind of project-within-the-project. Reading through the Psalms would benefit anyone... so how about joining me?

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Chris Juby

I summarised all 1,189 chapters of the Bible on Twitter - one tweet per chapter, one chapter per day for over three years.

Click ☰Summaries above to view the archive.

Find out about the project here, you can buy the Bible Summary book on Kindle or in paperback, and feel free to get in contact if you have any comments or questions.

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