Though I was born into a Catholic household and received the sacraments at an early age, my parents left the Church and started hopping from religion to religion in an effort to find a “solution” to their marital problems (it wasn’t religion that ended up being the source of their problems, it was their lack of devotion to one another…but that’s another story for another time).
Short end of the story, I ended up stuck in a Kingdom Hall at age 17, surrounded by Jehovah’s Witnesses until I was able to “escape” later in my 20s.
In the self-assured shadows of the Watchtower we read and “devoured” the Bible in a very ego-assuring way that made us feel nobody had more to study about Scripture than we did. But I went further than most.
I also learned the original languages like you did—and I thought I knew more than anyone else in any other religion could as a result—even though I was from a Jewish background where Hebrew is a staple, and of course growing up in a Catholic household I had a good foundation on Latin (studying koine Greek led to my seeing a need for quick escape from the Watchtower more than anything). In reality the Witnesses are against learning the original languages in the manner I did because it involved learning from scholars (the JW religion has no scholars).
Anyway, when I returned to the Church I ended up reading and studying the text more than ever. I thought that it would just be “devotional” reading like you mention, but it turns out nothing can be further from the truth. And I also learned how lacking I was in my understanding of the original tongues.
There is so much Scripture readings to study in just day-to-day worship in the Church, more than I realized as a Witness. Now I make sure I keep up with the daily texts for Mass (not just Sunday), pray the Liturgy of the Hours (which is a four-week cycle of praying the Psalms as well as texts from the Scriptures and the Church Fathers and saints), and get a balanced view of study from various Catholic Bible study editions (there are many schools of thought).
Boy I wish I could tell those JWs how wrong they are about Catholics and the Bible. The Witnesses only have 100 years of theology (and they just recently dismissed almost all of that century of teaching due to “new light” they claim to have received over the past five years, so that is all gone and waste of time).
There is 2000 years of Church interpretation, research, exegesis, textual and scholarly study that far exceeds anything any other Christian denomination can provide—in fact, nothing compares with it.
When you compare all the information and fine volumes of study as well as approaches such as Lectio Divina, you will likely come to realize what I did: Any church that claims it has more to study and more to offer in Biblical studies than Holy Mother Church is just kidding itself.
So if you enjoy Bible study—real scholarly study like I do—then you’ve come to the right place, the Catholic Church. And you are in for a great time—there’s more than devotional reading for Catholics out there—so much more!