Reading the Bible


are there materials that help explain what is best way for reading the bible?

for example:
It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

one may want to consider this literally but how might be the best way of explaining how it is not?


Well, because we are Catholics, we have the advantage of the Church Magisterium in the interpretation of Scripture.

The Church has never taught to mangle one’s body.

Furthermore, there were those who did mutilate their bodies, and the Church did not proclaim them saints.

Like many things our LORD said, this one was for shock-value. No-one of sound mind seeks to mangle his body, in fact, we treat injured parts of our bodies with exceptional care.

But we do not fear sin. Yet, while our human bodies must be surrendered to death in any case, sin can prevent our gaining a Spiritual Body, which would be infinitely worse, as the Spiritual Body is everlasting.

Therefore, falling into sin is finally worse than living in a mangled body.

Spooky, non?



This refers to Mathew 5:27-30.

Jesus is still teaching right after the beatitudes. He’s speaking on adultry and says that if you just LOOK at a woman with lust, you have already committed aduletry.

Then He says that if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out. He’s using hyperbole, of course, and is meaning to say what you post above.

Just to add:

Think of Adam and Eve. Eve LOOKED upon the forbidden fruit and it looked good. It caused her to sin. Sin could look pleasing to the eyes; it is a way for sin to enter. First, the eyes see. Then you contemplate, then you sin. (well, not always!).

So yes, it’s better to “lose a limb” than to sin, for the reasons you state.



Do you have a good bible commentary?
I think the new Ignatius bible with commentary would be excellent.
Some bible passages are difficult to understand without some help.



I think that most of the Bible a person can read and understand, at least a little of it.

Some passages that are difficult to read are the ones you may be refering to. And those may or may not have several ways to understand them. As Fran mentioned, in these cases a commentary is good to use. Many bibles have commentaries at the foot of each page which explains the ideas in a given passage.

In general if there are any passages that seem to be contrary to the commandmants, or to other ideas of Christ or the Church, then you might want to search it out on this websight in their research works. And there are other Catholic websights as well which also furnish answers. And of course just ask the question right here on Catholic Answers.


=da_nolo;13402580]are there materials that help explain what is best way for reading the bible?

for example:
It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

one may want to consider this literally but how might be the best way of explaining how it is not?

Here two aids that are FREE downloads. Right click n them and add them to your desktop for easy daily reference

God Bless you. If you have any further question post them on this Forum:thumbsup:



When studying the Bible I prefer the historical critical method used by most scholars of the Bible. Look into: N.T Wright, E.P Sanders, James D. G. Dunn, John Dominic Corssan, Bart Ehrman, Albert Schweitzer, Gary Hambermas, Fr. Raymond Brown, etc. Some of them orthodox, some not. The Bible not only should be treated as scripture and a book of faith, but also real historical documents that record the people and the context of the time similar to other ancient documents of the ancient world.


good news and bad news: free download, the interpretation of the Bible in the Church

bad news: it’s lengthy, might overwhelm you (as it did me for more than 10 years).

overall: there’s no one approach to the bible that the church prefers, there are advantages and disadvantages to each (historical critical, feminist, “form” criticism, literary criticism, patriarchal (like the early church fathers), etc.).

“study bibles” usually come with a lot of notes and cross references and maybe some essays. In greater depth are “commentaries” that take things at a slower, deeper level. Check at your local public library for commentaries, even if they’re not Catholic in orientation. Look into them just to see what a commentary looks like.

There are single- and multiple-volume commentaries. i’ve heard somebody say that the best commentaries are at the Vatican and are written in Latin.

There is no “ultimate” once-and-forever commentary, as the church views scripture as an inexhaustible source of information and inspiration.

I’m at the $1500-$2500 level of investment in commentaries and such. There might a lot of good ideas in one place, that seem to give “the answer” until you pick up the next commentary.

Once in a while, I’ll find an interesting idea in a non-Catholic book. Example: “Praying Like Jesus, The Lord’s Prayer in a Culture of Prosperity” by James Mulholland, a Baptist minister. It’s a small book and has an interesting observation (take it or leave it):

The first part of the Lord’s prayer " hallowed by Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" are not so much petitions, like the rest of the prayer, but they are vows we make to God the Father BEFORE we get to that turning-point word “give…” Before we petition the Father for our needs, we offer our vows of loyalty to Him.

A point that Pope Benedict XVI makes in his 3-volume commentary, “Jesus of Nazareth”, is that Jesus is the focus of all of scripture.

Sometimes you can trip over some verses, like I did the other day ( 1 Corinthians 4:3-4)

1 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. 4 I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God.

These are very deep verses to ponder, esp v 3-4. You may at times find yourself with more questions about scripture than you have answers. That’s the beginning of the journey of faith.


I’d like to put a shout out for the RSV-2CE NT Study Bible. The discussions are great even for simple verses. Yes, you can understand a lot from a simple read, but many verses come alive with additional explanations.

If the whole NT is too expensive, perhaps you can pick a couple of books and buy the study guides. They are very similar. They’ve been releasing some of the OT Books too.


=da_nolo;13402580]are there materials that help explain what is best way for reading the bible?

for example:
It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

one may want to consider this literally but how might be the best way of explaining how it is not?

Please see my post in Bible suggested String from today.

The passage you mention is metaphorical: that is teaching a moral lesson.

Which in this case is the seriousness of SIN from God’s perspective. Most of us today just do not understand the harm sin does to God; to God’s Church, to those around us and to our very own Souls:

1John.1 Verses 8 to 10 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."

1John.5 Verses 16 to 17 "If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal.

John.20 Verses 20 to 23" When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained”

God Bless you,



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