I would recommend just diving right in to The New Testament. Begin with the Gospel of Matthew, and just read all the way through Apocalypse. It’s a much more engaging collection of books than you may realize. And I would also recommend reading it a minimum of five or ten times before even considering reading The Old Testament. And truth be told, you don’t even really need to read The Old Testament, in my opinion. I mean, eventually you’ll want to because those stories are great, but it’s The New Testament that you desperately need and require.
And at some point if you’re able to, these books may set you on fire and increase your interest a thousand-fold:
While I would agree the gospels are a great place to start, If you want to get a full picture of salvation history (the story) in chronological order, Genesis to Acts, you can follow this reading plan (its mapped out over 90 days but you can pace it however you want.)
There’s no one “correct” approach. But some approaches are going to be more fruitful than others.
Although there can certainly be fruit from just opening up the Bible at random and reading, it is also very, very helpful to know the context of what you are reading. To get the “big picture” of the story unfolding in the Bible.
This can be difficult because the Bible is really a collection of many books written by different authors in different languages across a thousand or so years. And those books are arranged by category rather than chronology.
There are multiple studies out there than help you start to read through Scripture to get the big picture. Once you have the big picture, you have the structural skeleton on which to frame everything else. Jeff Cavins has a bunch of “Bible timeline” video series, which are all good. The basic premise is to read first through 14 of the more narrative books of the Bible in order to see the story. Then you go back later and plug the other books into the timeline in context.
There are books out there like “A Father Who Keeps His Promises” (Scott Hahn) or “Bible Basics for Catholics” (John Bergsma) that do a great job of giving that “big picture.” But, of course, you need to eventually actually read the Bible for yourself. Reading such books for background is a great help, though.
I think there is roughly two approaches in reading the Bible - studying it and praying it.
Most of us do have some knowledge of the Bible, at least an overview of its content. This is important because a minimal knowledge of it at least will help us to see the passage that we read in the proper context and thus to understand what it tries to bring across.
Normally studying the Bible is to read the whole book at least once. Then one can get more detail or with the help of commentary or Bible dictionary. Listening to preaching and going for prayer meetings do help to get us more familiar in how it is applied in our lives.
Then secondly, praying the Bible. This is to allow ourselves to be immersed in the word, as the lamp to our feet and the light to our path, so to speak.
One can use the technique of Lectio Divina. Roughly it is to read the passage once, one can use the mass daily reading, to get the overview of the meaning of the readings.
Then pick up important phrase or sentence that strikes you.
Then reflect on it. What does it say? And what does it say to you?
Respond to the word by examining yourself vis-a-vis to it.
Then pray to God - thanksgiving, praising and petitioning.
Remember the memory verse throughput the day and be blessed.
There’s no set rule… though it is always good to have a plan or at least a Bible study to follow…
I’ve done the cover to cover (several times over); I’ve done the topic/theme method; I’ve done the creative method; I’ve done the Gospel/individual books only method… I’ve even done the cover to cover while engaging other methods…
…the best for me (since I am familiar with Scriptures) is Bible research… I encourage anyone to pose questions and I welcome anyone to search Scriptures with me… as long as we engage God in His Word we can find His Revelation and the Church He Founded right from Scriptures… and that “open” and “spot” has worked for me… especially in my darkest moments.
…not to disagree with you… but the Old Testament clarifies what we find in the New Testament… they are both important because they are both the Word of God–God’s Revelations do not come with a “best when used” or “expiration” date.
…as an example… the Promise and the Holy Battle which both are Revealed right from Genesis 3:15.
I have read the Bible cover to cover several times. That is definitely one approach.
I received a Children’s Bible when I was about 10 years old. Reading cover to cover is how I read most books.
Catechism at the time had already included Bible study as part of the 4th grade, which for me was 3th grade. This was a the brown book of Bible stories.
When I was activated for Active Duty, I accepted the challenge of reading 3 chapters a day plus 5 on Sunday. This takes approximately 15 minutes a day, and is one way of reading the Bible cover to cover in one year. I accepted the further challenge of reading different translations each time I finished reading the Bible. I started by reading the NAB, which is used in liturgical celebration, followed by the New Jerusalem, followed by the RSV, etc.
Another way approach to reading the Bible in a year is to follow a program that allows for reading 2 chapters of the O.T. plus one of the N.T. When my youngest brother died, I inherited his Christian Almanac, which has a schedule of readings across the top of its daily entries. Our Daily Bread, which is also not a Catholic publication likewise has a Bible in a year schedule that follows the basic 2 O.T. chapters plus a N. T. reading.
Reading the daily Mass reading allows a person to read the Bible over the course of 3 years. The Catholic Church also encourages lectio divinia, simply meditating on a single scripture throughout the day in the Benedictine tradition.
At a minimum, the timeline chart is a great resource and if you have amazon prime its under $5, along with following the reading plan will get you started, but Jeff Cavins is an awesome presenter and I don’t know if I would have stuck with some of those OT sections without his help.
I’m studying the OT right now using Fr. Larry Boadt’s guide to it. It is excellent! Both historical and faithful. The first couple of chapters are exactly this question: how to approach the OT. He’s also got a chapter on archeological finds that confirm OT events and figures.