Rob Bell, in his book "Velvet Elvis", points out that prior to the 16th century or thereabouts, it was very rare for an individual to own a copy of any portion of the Scriptures, much less an entire copy.
Accordingly, individual Bible reading and study was essentially unheard of.
That which we encourage today, individualized reading, is a new invention.
I believe it's a good invention, but it's interesting to realize that it's a new invention.
However, I believe we have lost the advantage of not having our own copies of the Scriptures, for before that was common, the common practice was to get together with others and spend hours discussing scriptures. This sort of interaction would go a long way toward keeping the far-out ideas tamed, as you'd immediately have other knowledgeable Truth-seekers to analyze and critique your ideas.
However, lest you suddenly decide to do away with individual study in an effort to return to the "old paths", let me remind you that the Ethiopian eunuch had his own copy (at least of Isaiah), and was doing his own individual study. I would daresay that the eunuch was rather unique in having his own copy of a portion of the Scriptures.