How Should I study Scripture?

Hi there,

Well, I want to know more about The Bible. St. Jerome said, Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. I want to know Jesus, and what better way through His Word?

How should I study Scripture? Should I start with Genesis and read the bible all the way through, like a novel? Should I study each book individually? Should I pray “Jesus, guide me to what You want me to know?” and just open to a page?

I’m anxious to get started!


No one actually reads it all the way through and comprehends everything they read. When I started off, I read from Genesis through Exodus and skipped to the gospel of Matthew and read Psalms and Proverbs frequently to get some extra discernment. I’d just recommend reading what you can connect with. The Bible says a man who studies the Scriptures and does not put them into practice is like a man who looks in the mirror and forgets what he looks like. Funny they compare it to looking in a mirror, cause a child of God sort of finds his/herself in the Scripture.

There are bible study programs out there. I would suggest you check out this one. It’s a bible lecture series and you read between listening to each talk. The bible study that is related to this, created by Jeff Cavins, is the Great Adventure. You can order it yourself or ask your parish to order it and do it in a group which can be really wonderful.

Here, start with the first session from this link:

The hosts are Dr. Scott Hahn and Jeff Cavins.

And it starts in Genesis.

Jeanne, I commend you in wanting to know more about the Bible and you are about to embark on an exciting journey through its pages. There are many approaches to Bible study, some of course better than others. To start, you need a good study Bible. A lot more of them are available on the Protestant side but there are some very good Catholic bibles as well. Personally, I like the Revised Standard Version. It comes in a Catholic edition so that is probably what you would want to get. Look for a Bible that has copious footnotes and cross references if you can find one. They will help explain those difficult or ambiguous passages. I have been to the website of Ignatius Press and they have quite a bit of material. You also might check the website of places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Having found a suitable bible, I suggest you start in the New Testament. Matthew is one of the richest books and easiest to understand so just begin there. When you finish the New Testament, turn back to Genesis and go through the Old Testament. If you have a lot of time on your hands, take a whole book with a single sitting. Most of us, however, can’t do that. I once read through the entire Protestant Bible in a year and accomplished it by reading 3 or 4 chapters a day. Doing the 73-book Catholic Bible may take about 4 or 5 chapters a day. For my short attention span, that is enough.

I recently obtained an audio bible on CD’s and plan to get through it in a little over a year listening to it during drive time in my car. There will be some things you don’t understand, so consult the footnotes and side notes. If the passage still isn’t clear, don’t worry. No one but God knows everything about the Bible. However, the more you read and study the more everything will come together for you.

You also should ask if your church has a Bible study group. You can learn a lot by participating in one of these groups and they are a lot of fun. If they don’t have a Bible study group, perhaps you could start one. I’ll bet somewhere in your church there is someone knowledgeable about the Bible who would be willing to lead the group.

May God be with you in this undertaking. I know you will enjoy it.

P.S. I just StillWondering’s post and those are good ideas as well. Jeff Cavins and Scott Hahn are top notch.

If you are a total beginner, start with the Gospel of Mark and read it through like a story. From there, get hold of your Diocesan library and check out their Bible study materials. Most likely they’ll have something that suits you. Also, see if you can join up with a parish Bible study somewhere. Most of them are pretty good, and this is actually a good time of year to join, since most of them will be starting new programs pretty soon.

After a couple of decades of reading and studying the Bible, and of creating and leading Bible studies, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that to really read the Bible in a way that will help you grow in knowledge and, more important, spiritually, a two track aproach is the best: Devotion and Study.

First, you should be reading the Bible everyday. Just reading it; praying to the Holy Spirit before and after, reading little by little, meditating on that little bit and over time becoming familiar with it. This is really the basis of growing in love for God and his Word and it is something that comes over a long time of doing it. A ready-made way of doing this, of course, is by using the readings that the Church hears at daily Mass. That alone is enough to feed your soul and help it grow. (You can find weekly studies and resources at my web site, linked below)

That’s number one. At the same time, if you really want to grow in an in-depth knowledge of the Scriptures (which will also benefit you in your daily Bible reading), you need to study the Scriptures in a more systematic manner. Some people like “topical” Bible studies where you study a theme of Scripture for several weeks (like, for example, about famous men or women in the Bible, courage, faith, stewardship, parenting, discerning God’s will, etc.). Personally, I recommend starting out by getting involved in a study which gives you a broad picture of salvation history. Two very popular programs are Jeff Cavins “Great Adventure/Bible Timeline” series and another series Cavin’s did with Dr. Scott Hahn on EWTN called “Our Father’s Plan.” Studies like this will help you get that “Big Picture” that will make the rest of your Bible study come alive and be more understandable.

After that, you should start studying the Bible book by book. There are several ways you can do this. You can join a good Catholic Bible study group if there is one being offered near you. Also, there are a lot of good Catholic Bible study guides and commentaries that you can use (like the Ignatius Study Bible and the Navarre Bible commentaries) to go through each book one by on your own. If you like to download mp3s, there are some very good Catholic Bible studys that you can download and listen to at your leisure. Some can be found at in their audio library (especially studies on the Gospels – just type in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John). There is a site called St. Irenaeus Ministries that has on-going Catholic studies of many books of the Bible. Just these alone should keep you busy for a while.

So, to re-cap: the best way to learn the Bible is to read a little of it every single day for spiritual edification and to grow in familiarity. At the same time, after getting a grasp on th big picture of Scripture, you should be studying at least one book of the Bible all the time so that you can int turn grow in knowledge and have a solid foundation to your daily Bible reading.If you need more information or resources, please visit my main webpage, found at the link below.

Hope that helps. :slight_smile:

I agree with this advice. IMHO, Mark is the most reliable of the gospels anyway. May as well start there. No sense in reading the hebrew scriptures right off, because to be honest, it will scare the pants off you if you do. Just warning you.

If you begin it in the same manner as I, reading it cover to cover as a Novel is just a perfect initiation to it. You will be transformed by it, you will enjoy it in a new way, reading it that way, and in the end of it, know that it’s largely a Love story between God and his children.

2nd, point, random pages, those can work, but not for everybody, since it’s kind of a gift that’s mocked if used as your regular practice, shared in public with others. God uses that system to speak directly to us on an intimate level for our current moment’s, if he cannot find a better way to get the message accross,… Keep your bible with you everywhere, and when you have a question, see what a random page or spot enlightens you upon. Even if you don’t have that gift, the chances are very high that you still will get something out of these readings.

Taking it into a more formal setting, you don’t cover as much of the texts, but what you do cover, you know in greater depth.

Meditate upon one specific passage or section, and think to yourself, what does it mean, to you and to others. It’s weird, but once you have enough of this under your belt, you are able to pull out meanings behind scripture, especially with the NT, that isn’t apparent on the surface, ie.current stage I’m at with study shifted on occassion with the random page.

Another thing I"m doing now, when I go out to eat and am alone “which is most of the time”, I’ll bring my bible to read, just open up a random spot and read it through the meal., there have been some great things learned during these meals, that would normally be left to simply filling my belly.

You are correct, please proceed to kill yourself. Everyone else here should follow suit.

On the other hand, you could accept overwhelming evidence that quantum uncertainty states that the future is not set in stone, and can be affected by your observations.(ie quantum mechanics says what you do changes the future in somewhat controllable fashion). You can’t prove anything about gods, I say one must be ignorant to be anything but agnostic. But sound science says, with 99.9% certainty, now that we’re here, we determine our own fate. If you are sound of mind enough to take my advice you’ll see that you don’t have to stop believing in God, you can just start believing in things that are demonstrably true (ie science).

For any that are not so sound of mind, I suggest the following.

Just like your god fearing ancestors did to this guy:
You should try it out for yourselves.

troll, those absolutely were NOT God fearing ancestors, not by far, they were much, much closer to yours…seriously, you probably shared the same last name as many of them at this point…

God have mercy on your soul, all I can do in prayer over you, that’s all anybody here can ask for in that regard…that imagery is completely disturbing for any person, much less, lumping it in with a slam, not just to Catholics, but to all Christians…

There are very good ideas here. To recap, there are at least three sets of commentaries that you might use, depending on your budget and time, etc.

You might find a good group study in your local parish, but you are captive to the leader and the attendees. I’m just saying you might like to study on your own, rather than depend on the group.

So, there’s the Navarre commentary, probably the most expensive. The Ignatius series is probably the cheapest.

I’m working through a set of commentaries that I find very helpful to me – they’re non-academic in style, suitable for individual or group discussion. Four volumes of 14 have been published so far in this Baker Academic Catholic Scripture Study series.

Yeah, the standard advice is to start with the New Testament, one of the gospels. But, you can start anywhere you want. In the Baker Series, the study on Ephesians is excellent and inspirational – and a stand-alone commentary, so everything is in there to get you through this one NT epistle. The author does not leave anything to the imagination so you won’t miss anything in the letter. You’d need a much more scholarly book to get much more than you can get out of this book.

IF you pick up the Ignatius Bible study book on the gospel of Mark, if I’m not mistaken, you will get a good lesson in the method of Catholic Bible study, as it contains useful and revealing information from the Catechism and from various documents of the Second Vatican Council.

I made a plan in 2009 to read through some Jewish commentaries on the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. There are five books listing at $75 each (I caught them on sale for $40 each) and there’s nothing forbidden about reading these, except to realize that they’re not from a Catholic perspective. But, they do provide a lot of line-by-line explanation of the Hebrew text. I only made it through 3.5 of these five books, because I got distracted by other reading. Realize that the Jews read the Torah at Synagogue on a three-year cycle. They are focused on all the commands and inspiration of these writings and all the Hebrew scriptures. On the other hand, they are lacking the Christian perspective and they don’t hit all the issues even in these books, as extensive as they are.

From the EWTN document library, you can download a document from the Pontifical Biblical Commission about the Interpretation of the Bible in the Catholic Church. It’s heavy reading, but if you don’t let it overwhelm you, what you find is that it tells different methods of looking at scripture, and the upside and downside of each of the methods.

To make a long story short from that document, it says a Catholic should get a good commentary to read alongside their Bible.


Just **REPORT **and IGNORE and deny it the attention it’s trying to solicit.:mad:

Of course they are reported, staff should have picked up on it, guys I’m a dangerous contributor to online forums, I still believe that moderators should be volunteer…, another element, this stuff I can very much recreate back end and graphics wise as well.,think of how quickly that one would have been scrapped before it got to public use, with some of us slobs helping out at CAF as staff? Then again, think about how much more this place if us same of us that have major IT backgrounds, could do to help this place as well, being paid for it is optional…

I agree, read Sacred Scripture everyday!

The Church, in her infinite wisdom, gives us daily Mass readings from Sacred Scripture which cover the vast majority of the Bible in 3 years.

i use the Magnificat magazine, which is a fantastic tool with daily Mass readings, meditations, prayers, essays & beautiful artwork! i also watch daily Mass on Ewtn & read the Office of readings from the Liturgy of the Hours (this is a good site for the daily Mass readings & the LOTH;

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!


I just want to support Mark on his post. The Magnificat is really awesome. At first I was unsure about the cost, since I’m poor. But the book is worth so much more than the cost. Get a year subscription for $45 and you have daily prayers, readings, intercession prayers, hymns!!, insights, and much more!

I would say this is a must have tool for those that are able to read (I have my fiancee read it to me because I would fail otherwise :D) and want to get more out of their devotional life.

Pick a book of the Bible and start reading. When you’ve read enough, put a bookmark in it and pick up where you left off later. To learn about Jesus a good place to start is one of the gospels–Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Mark’s gospel is the briefest. Luke’s gospel is the most detailed. Matthew’s gospel is perhaps the most quoted. And John’s gospel has more words Jesus spoke than any of the other three. My personal favorite is John’s gospel. If you have a question, ask God, then look for someone to give you the answer.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit