Via Eucatastrophe, here’s a rather mundane list of Top 10 Passages in the Bible:
Genesis 1: The Creation Story.
Exodus 20: The Ten Commandments.
Psalm 23: The Lord is My Shepherd.
Isaiah 53: The Suffering Servant passage.
John 1: In the beginning was the Word.
Matthew 5: The Sermon on the Mount.
Luke 23: The Passion Narrative.
Romans 8: Those Led by the Spirit.
I Corinthians 13: The Greatest of These is Love
Revelation 21: A New Heaven and a New Earth
My list looks a bit different:
(1) Ecclesiastes 1:14; 4:2-3; 9:2-3a. Suggests little meaningful difference between good and evil: “I saw everything done under the sun; all is vanity and chasing after wind… I thought the dead, who have already died, more fortunate than the living, who are still alive. But better than both is the one who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil done under the sun… The same fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil. As are the good, so are the sinners. There is an evil in everything under the sun, that the same fate comes to everyone.”
(2) Romans. The entire letter, which deals with ethnic conflict and serious theological dilemmas, more positively than on a previous occasion (Galatians). The most carefully structured and considered of all the NT epistles.
(3) Mark 11-13. Jesus in Jerusalem: hailed a messianic liberator, curses a fig tree for no fault of its own, threatens the temple, arrogantly refuses to explain by what authority he does the things he does, obliquely opposes Caesar’s taxes, and caps it all off with the great apocalypse, “The Abomination of Desolation”.
(4) Job 38-41. God railroads Job: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Who determined its size? Who shut in the sea when it burst from the womb? Have you commanded the morning and caused the dawn to know its place? Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that a flood of waters may cover you? Can you send forth lightning? Can you hunt prey for the lion? Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Is the wild ox willing to serve you, and will it spend the night at your crib? Will you dare put me in the wrong?”
(5) I Samuel 8-12. Israel’s demand for a king, Samuel’s warning of the evils inherent in kingship, the election of Saul by lottery, and finally, Samuel’s ominous farewell-address to the people of Israel.
(6) Lamentations. Take something away, and you show people what they had: “How lonely sits the city that was once full of people. Like a widow she has become, she that was great among the nations, a princess among provinces. Weeping bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks. The roads to Zion mourn; Jerusalem remembers…”
(7) Luke 15:11-16:8a, 16:19-31. The three best parables in the gospels lined up back-to-back: “The Prodigal Son”, “The Shrewd Manager”, and “The Rich Man and Lazarus”. A father contends with two equally lousy sons, attempting reconciliation. A landowner’s hands are tied by the shrewd survival tactics of his own manager. And a rich man burns in Hades, for no other reason than because he is rich.
(8) James 3:6-8. On gossip and slander: “The tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed on our members as a world of iniquity. It stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue — a restless evil, and full of deadly poison.”
(9) I Corinthians 15. Paul’s murky view of the resurrection: “But someone may ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’ How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body… Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable… The perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”
(10) Micah 2:1-2; 6:10-12; 4:1-4. Diatribes followed by a vision of something better: “In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house will be established as the highest of the mountains. People will stream to it, and everyone shall beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks, and sit under their own vines and fig trees.”