I recently came across a blog where someone has summarised each book of the Bible Twitter-style (i.e. each summary must be 140 characters or less. “In computer and machine-based telecommunications terminology, a character is a unit of information that roughly corresponds to a grapheme, grapheme-like unit, or symbol, such as in an alphabet or syllabary in the written form of a natural language.” Just in case you were wondering how some books like Philemon feature 140 characters, as in people…!)

You can read the summaries here: Phil Green’s ‘Joining the Dots’ I was particularly interested to hear how he’d summarise James, since that’s the book we’re currently studying at church: “Practical theology. Faith and life should be forever intertwined; we separate them at our peril. Theology should be lived.” A pretty effective summary, I think!

A long time ago, I had to take an exam which basically involved summarising a long, complicated text. It was called a precis, and at seventeen, I couldn’t really see the point of this. The idea was to capture the core intent of the text and ensure that you had summarised all the important parts, but in a limited number of words. Bear in mind, this was before your computer counted all the characters or words for you, so it was a painstaking task. I’ve always had a tendency to waffle, so I found it quite hard to learn to summarise and always found it vaguely disquieting. If the author had needed 1000 words to make his point, how could I be expected to do the same in 100?!

Since then, I’ve had to precis countless things and learning to summarise is possibly one of the most useful skills I have ever learned. (I certainly use it a lot more than trigonometry or algebra, but perhaps that’s because my job involves words!) I’ve found that most things can be summarised without necessarily losing meaning and it’s helpful to me to learn to be succinct.

How about coming up with your own Bible summaries?