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The One Hour Bible

Can you read the Bible in one hour?

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To encourage us to consider the teachings of the Bible by reading The One Hour Bible.

Preparation and materials


  1. Hold up the copy of the unabridged Bible.

    Ask the students whether any of them have ever read the whole Bible.

    You may also wish to ask the students whether any of them know any stories or characters from the Bible.

  2. Use the following facts either to ask questions of the students or to make them aware of the information.

    - Christians believe that the Bible contains God’s words to them. It speaks of God’s interaction and relationships with people in the world, alongside teaching about lifestyle and behaviour.
    - The Bible consists of two sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament.
    - The Old Testament tells of the time before Jesus came into the world.
    - The New Testament teaches us about the time after Jesus came to Earth: his life, death, resurrection and the start of the Christian Church.
    - The Old and New Testaments are both made up of many separate ‘books’. The books have been written by various people and contain information, songs, poems, history, letters and prophecies about the future. The books are often named after the people who wrote them.
    - The Bible contains about 800,000 words.
    - It is estimated that reading the Bible out loud from start to end in a normal reading voice would take 70 to 80 hours.

  3. Point out that for most of the students, spending hours reading the Bible might seem unnecessary and uninteresting. After all, we are all busy people with homework and socializing to fit into our schedules!

  4. Hold up the copy of  The One Hour Bible or show the image of the front cover.

    Explain that a Christian publisher, SPCK, has come up with a great idea. It has published a book called The One Hour Bible: a Bible that we can read in just one hour! The author, Philip Law, has selected the main parts of the Bible so that the reader can gain an overview of the whole story of the Bible in just one hour. There is no summary or paraphrase, just the Bible’s own story in the Bible’s own words.

  5. The author was asked a few questions about his reasons for compiling the book.

    Question 1: What was the inspiration for The One Hour Bible?
    Answer: There are lots of books that summarize the Bible or try to explain its central message. I wanted to see whether it would be possible to let the Bible speak for itself, but in a way that’s relatively quick and easy for people to read in just one sitting. The result is The One Hour Bible, which includes all the major stories and characters from the book of Genesis at the beginning, right through to the book of Revelation at the end.

    Question 2: Why do you think the Bible is still relevant today?
    Answer: The Bible has had a huge and lasting influence on the world and how we see it. Even if you’re not a Christian, if you live in Western countries such as the UK, the USA or Australia, the ethical values we live by are still largely derived from biblical teaching – especially, of course, the teaching of Jesus.

    Question 3: The One Hour Bible summarizes the complete Bible story. Why do you think it is important for people to have an overview of the Bible?
    Answer: Lots of people know at least a few Bible stories, but few people know how those stories fit into the whole picture. In The One Hour Bible, you’ll read the stories of major figures like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Samson, Ruth, David, Jonah, Jesus, Mary, Paul and many others, and you’ll be able to see how they each play their part in the overall story of God reaching out to the world and redeeming it from sin and the threat of ultimate destruction.

    Question 4: What is your favourite Bible story and why?
    Answer: It has to be the story of Jesus and his teachings, which we find in the four Gospels. Jesus himself taught in stories, of course, and among my favourites is the story of the Good Samaritan. That particular story helps us to understand what it really means to follow what is sometimes called the ‘golden rule: always to behave towards other people as we would like them to behave towards us. In other words, as Jesus says in another place, ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ So much of being a Christian involves working out, from day to day, just what this means and how we can practise it in a world that’s much more diverse and complicated – socially, economically and politically – than in Jesus’ day. It’s not always easy to see how best to follow Jesus in our world today, but reading about his teaching and example can help a lot, which is one reason why nearly 20 per cent of The One Hour Bible is drawn from the records of his life in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Time for reflection

Challenge the students that sometimes, our lives can be so busy that we don’t take the time to stop and consider our beliefs and the beliefs of others.

Christians all over the world speak about the Bible changing their lives. Maybe a challenge for the summer holidays could be that the students read The One Hour Bible and consider the teachings that it presents. You may wish to have copies of The One Hour Bible available for the students.

Point out that if the students do not have a copy of The One Hour Bible, a good place to start reading the Bible is the Gospels found in the New Testament. These are written by four different authors and speak about the story of Jesus and his teachings.

Publication date: August 2019   (Vol.21 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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