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FYI, your third conclusion: “Staying with the lectionary readings will take you through the entire Bible in a methodical manner,” is incorrect. The four lectionary texts will cover just a little over 5% of the Bible in a year. So, in the three year cycle, only 15% (or so) is actually covered. For the churches who use the 3-year lectionary cycle, congregants will not hear the vast majority of the Bible throughout their lives. They will hear the same 15% of the Bible year after year. I know this because I’ve done the math. I had for years thought as you, but was curious as to whether my assumption was correct. I was surprised (not in a good way) to learn otherwise.
You’re right, the lectionary readings don’t cover all the scriptures in the Bible. Your comment made me look into this, and I appreciate that. But I am curious about your math. Where did you get 5% per year?
The Gospels take up 141 pages in my Bible. Most of the readings are half a page or more. There are 156 weeks in three years meaning MOST of the gospel scriptures will be read in that time (way more than 15%).
The same is true with the Psalms. There are 150 of them. The short psalms are one reading, the longer ones may take several weeks to cover. None-the-less, most of the Psalms will be covered in 156 weeks.
At 189 pages, less of the New Testament letters will be covered. It might leave 15% of the letters unread.
The Old Testament is more problematic. There’s more Old Testament than New Testament and Psalms combined. Since much of the content is repeated (because it developed out of an oral tradition? important things need to be repeated to be remembered), perhaps all of the content is covered. I’ll be investigating this further.
Thanks again for your insightful comment.
The math comes from an research analysis I’ve done of the lectionary cycles. The 5% comes from the overall verses used for each year when considering if all four readings assigned for the Sundays are read in the churches and comparing that number to the total number of verses in the Bible. Obviously the percentage would be much less if fewer than the assigned passages are used. So the 5% is an overall figure. The percentage increases greatly if one considers the Gospels alone. In a three-year lectionary cycle, 55% of Matthew will be heard, 59% of Mark will be heard, 56% of Luke will be heard, and 55% of John will be heard.
I also discovered that 13 Books of the Bible aren’t read at all during the three-year lectionary cycle.
What the research did for me is this: I realized that much more time needed to be spent in Bible Studies which included texts outside of the lectionary. It also led me to look more carefully at the passages that weren’t included in the lectionary. I began to ask the question: Why weren’t these passages included?
Unfortunately, I have learned that many assages which might be very helpful in leading listeners to conviction and repentance have not been included. What’s with that? Is church leadership simply wanting to “tickle” the ears of church goers? Is there a fear that church goers might get mad and quit coming to church if some of the more convicting passages are in the lectionary?
I’m just asking the question.
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