There is a pretty interesting book coming out, and the title says it all.
Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible
Written by David Plotz, a writer for Slate, an online news magazine, it is a compilation of his multi-year blog journey through the Bible.
In his blog entry on the book he says this: Maybe it doesn't make sense for most of us to read the whole Bible. After all, there are so many difficult, repellent, confusing, and boring passages. Why not skip them and cherry-pick the best bits? After spending a year with the good book, I've become a full-on Bible thumper. Everyone should read it—all of it! In fact, the less you believe, the more you should read. Let me explain why, in part by telling how reading the whole Bible has changed me. Read more here.
David's journey through the Bible didn't change his agnostic outlook, but he did learn to love the book many of us cherish. For a review from a Christian perspective check out Church Central's Book Review.
Why do I bring all of this up. If Christians want to be engaged in God's world, we have to understand how that world thinks. This is as good a tool as any. Furthermore, what David says in that video about understanding the complicated characters of the Bible on their own terms, without the window dressing if you will, of sermons and commentaries, is spot on.
Using Bible study tools is good, but I think the place to start is with a naked reading, the whole Bible as it really is, the good, the bad and the absolutely disgusting.
And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough? You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to the idols. In all your detestable practices and your prostitution you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, kicking about in your blood. - Ezekiel 16:20-22