Posted by: alisonwalley | 19 July 2009

Daily Bread: a review

Scripture Union have been producing Bible reading notes since the 1920s and Daily Bread has been around pretty much since then, though I’m not sure when it was first called that.

dailybreadYou can get Daily Bread in the familiar book format (pictured), or audio (for the visually impaired), in large type or Braille, as a PDA/PC download (pdf format), or online. The online version is now the WordLive one, so you get more than just the notes there (see my previous blog on WordLive).

All SU notes follow the same general format, which they call the ‘Scripture Union method’. (I thought it was a general one, but on the other hand my first Bible reading notes came from SU so perhaps I picked it up from there? It seems to me to be the obvious way to go about Bible reading.) This ‘method’ is simply a set of steps to getting the most out of reading the Bible. They are:

  • Prepare – pray, worship God
  • Read the passage – thinking and praying about what it means
  • Explore what the passage means – use the notes to help.
  • Respond – to what God is saying to you through the passage

(Actually Daily Bread adds another part, which is the reading for the Bible in a year. But that’s not really part of the notes.)

Daily Bread has a very easy to read and ‘open’ design. There’s not too much text on any page, and it’s in a very clear font with an unequal two-column layout, which allows a verse (or two) from the passage plus the ‘Respond’ section in the outer, narrower, column, and the other parts in the wider one. The Bible passage, title and date are in a prominent position at the top. You might wonder why I bother with the design. I think it’s important because it gives you a feel for the type of publication. This is a modern, but not off-the-wall design, very practical, very clear, very accessible.

As far as the different sections go, ‘Prepare’ is one or two sentences, ‘Explore’ is one or two paragraphs. It’s hard to write a compressed, no-more-than-about-200-words comment on a Bible passage, but I think in general the writers of Daily Bread do a very good job. They don’t have time to go into detail, and maybe sometimes they pick a theme or main point which you as a reader haven’t seen as the main point. But the points do come from the text, and it’s good to get different ideas to think about.

The printed version of Daily Bread covers three months, in which you’ll find readings from perhaps six to seven books of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, generally in no more than two-week blocks. So, for example, if you’d had this last summer you’d have looked at seventeen Psalms (in two separate blocks), nine chapters of Luke (in three blocks), eight chapters of Exodus, Micah, three chapters of Acts, seven of 1 Samuel and ten of Isaiah. If you’re the sort of person who likes to read through whole Bible books pretty much consecutively, maybe Daily Bread is not for you! However, if you want to get an idea about different parts of the Bible, this gives you more than the most familiar passages. I don’t know how long it might take to get through the whole Bible this way.

Each section has a one-page introduction from the writer of that section, and includes a bit about the writer too. There’s also a central feature.

So, who is Daily Bread aimed at and why might you want to use it?

My feeling is that it’s for those who are not so used to reading the Bible. I don’t know quite if you’d call it ‘for beginners’, but if you’d describe yourself as such you’d certainly find it helpful. If you’re the sort of person who wants to ask more questions and go deeper, then another set of notes will probably suit you better.

But let me finish by quoting what SU says on its website about it:

What are our hopes for you the readers? That through reading Daily Bread, you’ll meet with God in his Word and be inspired. Inspired to live, inspired to love, inspired to serve, inspired to serve, inspired to lead, inspired to cry, inspired to laugh on your life’s journey with God, bringing glory to his name wherever he takes you.

Amen to that.

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