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  • Writer's pictureScott Carr, Jr.

Review: The Bible in a Year Podcast with Father Mike Schmitz


The Bible in a Year podcast with Father Mike Schmitz has been running for three years now and has been immensely popular, exposing the Bible to numerous Catholics and exposing Catholic readings of Scripture to many Protestants. For my own devotional life, I spent this past year (2023) listening to the show daily.


The approach the podcast takes is dividing the Bible into 12 historical time periods. Each day, the first reading comes from a narrative book of that time period and then teaching books from the same time are read. The benefit is that, for the most part, each day you hear stories read, which makes working through the Bible easier. There are very few days where you are listening to only, say, the Prophets or the Epistles. You get these books while also hearing the stories that go along with them. Before each time period, Fr. Mike is joined by Dr. Jeff Cavins, an excellent Bible teacher, who helps give an overview of the historical period. It gives a bird's eye view so the listener isn't lost in the details of the period, but can see the big picture and recognize how a given day's readings fit into the overarching story. Another plus is that while the days are numbered, he does not state the date in episodes, making it easier to jump back in when you miss a day. The goal is that you spend 365 days in Scripture, even if they end up not being consecutive. I think the podcast format makes it easier to stick with it, even if you miss a day.


The format of each episode is pretty simple. Fr. Mike welcomes listeners before reading the Scripture passages for the day. He then prays and offers a commentary on the day's reading. Fr. Mike is young and energetic, making it easy to listen to him each day. For the most part, I think the 12 historical periods approach works and helps demonstrate how the Bible flows together. Once in a while, there are days more than one prophet or more than one epistle is read on a given day and it is difficult to keep track day to day the flow of these, but otherwise, the readings were excellently done and easy to follow. For Protestants, Fr. Mike reads the full Catholic canon which includes books not in our Protestant canon. It was exciting to hear these books and what they contain, even though my own church tradition does not recognize them as Scripture. It is good to know what our Catholic brothers and sisters are reading. These books also help fill in the gap between the Old and New Testaments. Even if we do not accept them as God's Word, they give us insight into how the world changed between the two testaments.


As far as the commentaries, I found these to be a mixed bag. Some times they were primarily restating the readings. At different points throughout, Fr. Mike would give an interesting insight into a passage I hadn't thought about before. I also appreciated hearing how Catholics view some of their distinct doctrines relating to the authority of the Church/pope, Mary, and purgatory as arising from Scripture. He didn't always convince me, but hearing the scriptural reasoning behind many of these beliefs gave me something to think about and increased humility in thinking about Catholic doctrine. It does endeavor to be biblical, something I knew, but I had not always heard the rational behind particular beliefs. Where I wish the commentary was stronger was that, while Fr. Mike does give Christocentric readings of many passages, there are also many days he only highlights the moral demands of a passage. Scripture certainly has a moral dimension, but I wish he paired this with reading Scripture as always pointing to the good news of Jesus. The days he did so were moving and encouraging days when he said just what I needed to hear. I wish he did this every day.


All in all, Bible in a Year is a good biblical podcast. If you are Catholic, jump right in for 2024. For Protestants, it is helpful to hear a different interpretation of Scripture. It keeps God's Word from feeling over familiar but can teach you something new. Be aware Fr. Mike teaches clearly Catholic doctrine at points and reads from books Protestants do not accept in the canon. I do not think either of these are reasons for Protestants not to listen, but good things to learn. It just is worth knowing ahead of time so you aren't surprised, or you aren't ready to interact with it at this point in your faith journey. For those looking to go through the Bible in the new year, this would be a good place to start, though there is still room for stronger Bible in a year podcasts.


In the comments below, what devotional habits do you plan on using to commune with God in 2024?

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