What's the best way to read the bible for the first time?


#1

I saw an approach earlier that you read 14 books from the bible because it gives you a definite timeline and can grasp the " big picture" of the covenants, the entire story etc

The books should be read as listed below:

Early World (Genesis 1-11)
Patriarchs (Genesis 12-50)
Egypt & Exodus (Exodus)
Desert Wanderings (Numbers)
Conquest and Judges (Joshua, Judges)
Royal Kingdom (1,2 Samuel; 1 Kings 1-11)
Divided Kingdom (1 Kings 12-22, 2 Kings 1-16)
Exile (2 Kings 17-25)
Return (Ezra, Nehemiah)
Maccabean Revolt (1 Maccabees)
Messianic Fulfillment (Luke)
The Church (Acts)

Any comments will be appreciated...


#2

[quote="namer0331, post:1, topic:350428"]
I saw an approach earlier that you read 14 books from the bible because it gives you a definite timeline and can grasp the " big picture" of the covenants, the entire story etc

The books should be read as listed below:

Early World (Genesis 1-11)
Patriarchs (Genesis 12-50)
Egypt & Exodus (Exodus)
Desert Wanderings (Numbers)
Conquest and Judges (Joshua, Judges)
Royal Kingdom (1,2 Samuel; 1 Kings 1-11)
Divided Kingdom (1 Kings 12-22, 2 Kings 1-16)
Exile (2 Kings 17-25)
Return (Ezra, Nehemiah)
Maccabean Revolt (1 Maccabees)
Messianic Fulfillment (Luke)
The Church (Acts)

Any comments will be appreciated...

[/quote]

I haven't heard of this method, but I like it!! It looks like a great way to get the narrative.

I would add the book of Galatians, John and 1 and 2 Peter and James to the list. You should have more New Testament to get a better Christian Picture.

Thanks for the idea! I am going to try it. I have tried to read the entire Bible a few times and usually give up in Leviticus or Deuteronomy. They are just hard books to get through.


#3

I would also add Job, Songs, Esther, John and 1 Corinthians. Job and Songs for some of the more interesting wisdom books (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Songs, Wisdom, Sirach). Esther for a better example of the Babylonian Exile. John because it's very different from the synoptic gospels, and has some good parts like the Bread of Life discourse. And 1 Corinthians because it's a nice epistle. (The list is rather lacking in New Testament books)

MAYBE also add Ruth, since it's only 4 chapters and could give a nice succinct background for David.

As for reading the entire thing, I recommend a nice plan like they have at the Coming Home Network that splits it into three parts. So you don't get bored by a month of Psalms or by Leviticus. (Well... Both of those were interesting to me. 1 Chronicles 1-9 was much worse)


#4

That looks like a good approach. I often suggest reading the Gospel according to John first because it gives a great overview of Christs Divinity and humanity. Sometimes this provides motivation for the rest.

Second thing is to choose a translation which you find easily readable. There is an ESV that comes with the Apocrypha. I find the RSV to be pretty good too. The Douay-Rheinms or King James are good, but tend to be difficult to understand for those not used to the peculiarities of Elizabethan English.


#5

The "timeline" idea was implemented in a series by EWTN's Jeff Cavens. You can find lots of products related to using this bible study method at the ewtn.com website, look into the catalogue tab, probably under "books" or "bible study"

The Pontifical Biblical Commission issued a document around 1992 that recommended reading the Bible alongside a commentary. But, they did not elaborate further on recommending a commentary.

The PBC elsewhere also endorsed reading Jewish commentaries for the part of the Bible we call the Old Testament, calling them first class bible study aids -- with the caution that they have a different point of view than do Catholic Christians.

The Torah series of commentaries from the Jewish Publication Society are very detailed. They're fairly expensive, to be sure. They take a good look at the Hebrew words of the text in great detail, to give the English reader a good understanding of the words. There's more questions about translation in the Jewish commentaries than you may expect. The JPS commentaries have no index to them, so you have to maintain your own.

The NJPS (New JPS translation of the Hebrew Bible) translates Deut 12:18 to have the word "happy" in it. Jews accept that they are commanded by God to be happy. My Revised Standard Version - 2nd Catholic Edition translates the word there as "rejoice." It takes a lot of reading (if not dedication and luck) to pick up on subtleties like this.

I'm currently reading Deuteronomy ("Devarim") in The Jewish Study Bible from Oxford U. Press. The commentary points out changes in "the law" (if you want to call it that).

The hypothesis that Moses wrote all the books of the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) is challenged by several changes that occur between Deuteronomy and earlier books. One, the passover meal of the lamb in one place says that it's supposed to be roasted; in Deut., another method of preparation is specified -- boiling. You might not expect this difference from the same author. the study bible suggests that the instructions in Deut come from a different tradition than that in Ex and Lev.

Another difference is the Ten Commandments in Ex versus Deut. In one place it says to "observe" the Sabbath, in the other it says to "remember" it. Those are different. Why?

In Ex and Lev,the temple priests are descendants of Aaron, and the Levites are just temple workers. In Deut, the Levites are priests offering the sacrifices. No explanation of the change -- except to bolster the "documentary hypothesis" there were many authors of the Torah, with different traditions, and evolving practices.

In the earlier books, it's very clear that the Levites serve at the temple and do not hold any territory in the Promised Land. But, guess what? In Deut, the Levites ARE assigned a holding of land. The commentary says that perhaps the earlier scheme simply didn't work, and the Levites were given an assignment of land after the return from the Babylonian captivity.

Without a detailed commentary, simply reading the Bible cover to cover, you would certainly miss such details. Do you care about this?

The Cavens Timeline program may be the best starting place, but I'd suggest not stopping there.

continued in my next post.


#6

[this is my previous post, continued]

I recently read (tediously) a book called The New Reform Judaism from JPS.

Reform Judaism is a large branch of Judaism in the United States. They consider the Torah to be inspired by God .........but written by men. That's why it ends up with the inconsistencies that I mentioned in my previous post.

Judaism itself ......has NO official dogmatic interpretations of scripture. So says The Jewish Study Bible which I referred to previously.

Reform Judaism goes so far as to reject the Torah itself. You know? The Ten Commandments and everything? Yeah. They reject all that as being made up by people long ago, often without a clear reason for what they rote. If it sounds that Reform Judaism includes atheists and agnostics, you'd be guessing correctly.

So, THIS is the most liberal interpretation of scripture, short of just being totally atheistic.
And, there's a wide range of scripture interpretations. Obviously, these aren't the Jewish commentaries that the Pontifical Biblical Commission says are OK for Catholics to read.

If there is a Catholic commentary on the Old Testament that is as thorough as those from the JPS, I haven't heard of it. I wish there was such a commentary in Catholic sources.

When you see how deeply the JPS commentaries delve into scripture, you may eventually come to realize and that even these do not cover all the topics that come to mind.

You might also want to look at some recent posts from a guy name COPELAND who writes a lot of comments on this website. He has lots of advice about studying the Bible.

Also see (Catholic) Dr. Scott Hahn's websight, www.salvationhistory.com for a lot of ideas about life-changing bible study.


#7

[quote="namer0331, post:1, topic:350428"]
I saw an approach earlier that you read 14 books from the bible because it gives you a definite timeline and can grasp the " big picture" of the covenants, the entire story etc

The books should be read as listed below:

Early World (Genesis 1-11)
Patriarchs (Genesis 12-50)
Egypt & Exodus (Exodus)
Desert Wanderings (Numbers)
Conquest and Judges (Joshua, Judges)
Royal Kingdom (1,2 Samuel; 1 Kings 1-11)
Divided Kingdom (1 Kings 12-22, 2 Kings 1-16)
Exile (2 Kings 17-25)
Return (Ezra, Nehemiah)
Maccabean Revolt (1 Maccabees)
Messianic Fulfillment (Luke)
The Church (Acts)

Any comments will be appreciated...

[/quote]

These are the fourteen narrative books of the Bible. This is exactly the chronological approach taken by The Bible Timeline study produced by Great Adventure/Jeff Cavins.

ascensionpress.com/t/category/study-programs/catholic-bible-study/adult-bible-study/timeline

I have led this study in my home twice and strongly recommend it. Our parish buys and owns the DVD sets and individuals pay for their own workbooks. The company flew two members of their staff from Minnesota to Atlanta to train us.

-Tim-


#8

[quote="Jon_S, post:2, topic:350428"]
I haven't heard of this method, but I like it!! It looks like a great way to get the narrative.

I would add the book of Galatians, John and 1 and 2 Peter and James to the list. You should have more New Testament to get a better Christian Picture.

Thanks for the idea! I am going to try it. I** have tried to read the entire Bible a few times and usually give up in Leviticus or Deuteronomy**. They are just hard books to get through.

[/quote]

That's exactly what this video suggests most people quit when they reach Leviticus..

youtube.com/watch?v=OJwE5LhjfXE

and a few have pointed that this method is used by Jeff Cavins but this method was used by St. Augustine its called the "canonical approach"

more info here

biblestudyforcatholics.com/resources/


#9

Open the book and read it.


#10

[quote="Hieronymi, post:9, topic:350428"]
Open the book and read it.

[/quote]

What if you get something like 1 Chronicles 1-9? That bored me faster than Leviticus. (Although it's not quite a fair comparison, since I found Leviticus an interesting read)


#11

[quote="Razanir, post:10, topic:350428"]
What if you get something like 1 Chronicles 1-9? That bored me faster than Leviticus. (Although it's not quite a fair comparison, since I found Leviticus an interesting read)

[/quote]

I have read the Bible cover to cover three times and am now on my fourth. I say this not to show off but to share my joy and some of my experiences.

We will get much more out of it and avoid much of the boredom and dryness if we have some guidance. It is important to know a little about what you are reading. This is where a good study which gives an overview of the Bible will add tremendously to our personal reading.

For example...

Leviticus is a training manual. Chapters 1 through 17 are a training manual for priests while chapters 18 through 22 are a training manual for ordinary people. Leviticus 18 through 22 is often called the "Holiness Code." Leviticus is a supplemental book - it supplements the Book of Exodus and is intended to be read and interpreted in the context of Exodus.

The Book of Job is supplemental to Genesis. It is intended to be read and understood in the context of Genesis, but we would not know that because it is placed further back in the Bible. I struggled with dryness when reading the Book of Job until it was explained that it was supplemental to Genesis, then it was much more enjoyable. I still struggle through it but it is better.

1 and 2 Chronicles cover the same material as 1 and 2 Kings. 1 and 2 Chronicles are a restating of 1 and 2 Kings but from a different perspective. Kings and Chronicles cover the same historical events and tell basically the same story. This is where a good understanding of things like the geography of the area, the monarchies, how the kingdom of Israel divided into two nations, etc., will all add tremendously to our personal reading.

Over half of the Psalms were written by King David. Kings and Chronicles tell the story of King David. Once we understand the story of King David we can approach the Psalms. The Psalms should be read and understood (and prayed!) in the context of what King David was going through when he wrote them and the other events in the life of Isreal in Kings and Chronicles.

These are just examples. I recommend The Bible Timeline by Great Adventure/Jeff Cavins or something similar. This study is a great overview of the Bible.

I also recommend a book like Manners and Customs in the Bible: An Illustrated Guide to Daily Life in Bible Times by Victor H. Matthews. This will put some context around what we are reading - geography, diet, politics, dress, worship, etc.

- How did the Exile change Israel's religious life?
- Why would Lot even think of throwing his daughters to a mob?
- What exactly were the differences between Herodians, Sadducees, Pharisees, and Essenes?

bks8.books.google.com/books?id=KpOfQgAACAAJ&printsec=frontcover&img=1&zoom=1&imgtk=AFLRE70fqGFVtSgAsXJKJb-AsU1mh-zOc2-Ck7gSvcdZA6PjU6itmb12I9A5kBytIwhiJqzH1VyZ2iX3-PbINo2L-wkA9IoJrCGGpz0w2pCB7IK__Q0PPKZYPVO9Odx0_YZQEawVT1I-

-Tim-


#12

The Priest at our Parish said to read it from the beginning of the new testament first. Then read the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament.


#13

[quote="franc1sc0, post:12, topic:350428"]
The Priest at our Parish said to read it from the beginning of the new testament first. Then read the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament.

[/quote]

I heard a sincere person say that if you read the OT first, you'd want to be a Jew. But, if you read the NT first, you want to be a Christian.

If Christianity didn't exist, I'd want to be a Jew. Thank you God, Thank You Jesus.


#14

[quote="Razanir, post:10, topic:350428"]
What if you get something like 1 Chronicles 1-9? That bored me faster than Leviticus. (Although it's not quite a fair comparison, since I found Leviticus an interesting read)

[/quote]

The Bible is a difficult read. I did not mean to be snide; but I quess I was.
Just jump in, and hang on


#15

I personally find that the Pauline Epistles add a certain missionary touch to the Bible.


#16

It need not be this way. With a little bit of effort it can become a very pleasant and joyful experience. It’s like anything else in life - you get more out of it if you put more into it.

A good Bible Study which gives an overview of the Bible will give you the background you need to understand it better. I recommend The Bible Timeline by Great Adventure/Jeff Cavins. See Bible Study for Catholics.

It is important to know how to properly read the Bible as well. The Church has developed a method for reading which she has worked out over her 2000 year history. There is a Catholic way to read scripture. I recommend **The Bible Compass: A Catholic’s Guide to Navigating the Scripture**s by Dr. Edward Sri.

bks7.books.google.com/books?id=bYIfQAAACAAJ&printsec=frontcover&img=1&zoom=1&imgtk=AFLRE70Ybbktryj5J-mF0yGZNiHgaiARXHvgRj8-eTLYTZd9nMwc5dM5p1Mg_CVtIMGu6G4OL3FXZOHKDKoBGs5z9HRlGYA6HbFlRH4YxDGmbBKBYmA4UaSqZ7CaoxOO7Au_NeTB2g72

These take a little bit of effort but they will teach you how to handle the Scriptures accurately and will set you up for a lifetime of reading the Scriptures with joy.

-Tim-


#17

Whether you're reading the Bible for the first time or the tenth time, there's still lots to learn about it. I'm not saying there is a final, once-and-for-all or single interpretation, but it's interesting to listen to different points of view.

today (1/7/14) I watched a recent episode of Ancient Jewish Wisdom which runs on the TCT cable network. It had to do with understanding some verses in 2 Samuel 5:6-8.

The issue is David attacking the city of Jerusalem, to take it over. And, the verses keep talking about the blind and the lame. v6: the blind and the lame will drive you away.
v8: the blind and the lame shall be the personal enemies of David; the blind and the lame shall not enter the palace.

In my Catholic NAB bible, there's no explanation about the blind and the lame.

I went to my (Protestant, anti-Catholic) [Charles] Ryrie Study Bible and a footnote says that these statements were simply a boast, that the city was so strong, that even just the blind and the lame would be able to defend it against David and his men (Israel).

Rabbi David Lapin uses Psalm 115:4-8 to explain why David hates the blind and the lame. In this "psalm of David" it says that the idols of the pagans "have eyes but see not" and "have feet but walk not." Those are the things in Jerusalem that David hates, not handicapped people.

Would you have picked up on the meaning of the verses from 2 Sam? Not me.

1) Recognize that reading through cover-to-cover, you may miss a lot of meaning Scripture does not give up its mysteries so easily. It forces us to read, study, think, and pray.
2) Don't get frustrated. You won't find the answers all in one place, unfortunately. Moral of the story is to keep searching for God, without ceasing.


#18

I would read Proverbs First, it teaches how to live godly in an ungodly world. Also the fear of the lord is the beginning of knowledge


#19

[quote="namer0331, post:1, topic:350428"]
I saw an approach earlier that you read 14 books from the bible because it gives you a definite timeline and can grasp the " big picture" of the covenants, the entire story etc

The books should be read as listed below:

Early World (Genesis 1-11)
Patriarchs (Genesis 12-50)
Egypt & Exodus (Exodus)
Desert Wanderings (Numbers)
Conquest and Judges (Joshua, Judges)
Royal Kingdom (1,2 Samuel; 1 Kings 1-11)
Divided Kingdom (1 Kings 12-22, 2 Kings 1-16)
Exile (2 Kings 17-25)
Return (Ezra, Nehemiah)
Maccabean Revolt (1 Maccabees)
Messianic Fulfillment (Luke)
The Church (Acts)

Any comments will be appreciated...

[/quote]

I suppose you could read the Bible in a structured way if you wanted to, but I suggest reading ALL of it.

If I were you, I would starting from the first book of the New Testament (Matthew) and end with the last book of the New Testament (Revelation). Once you're done reading through the NT for the first time, go back to the Old Testament and start from the very first book of the Bible (Genesis). Continue reading through the entire OT and maybe re-read the NT for a second time too.

I find that reading in such a structured way (as you posted above) makes the reading more laborious and less interesting. I would say "read as you go along." Read as many or as little as one chapter a day, if you need to. Don't make reading the Bible as if it needs to become a chore.

Also pick a translation (preferably one approved by the Catholic Church) that works best for you and is easy to understand. For example, my main Bible was the 1966 Jerusalem Bible (not necessarily a "favorite" Bible, but my primary Bible for go-to scripture reading). I find that sometimes due to syntax and structure, it is laborious to read. I switched to the Catholic Living Bible and I'm noticing much different results in my reading; I can actually understand and WANT to read the Bible now! Even if it's a paraphrase Bible and a "translation of a translation" it gets the point across and eventually I can move onto more difficult translations.

Do what you think is best for you. If you want to follow the plan you posted above, go for it. If you think you would be better off "reading as you go," try that out and see how it works.


#20

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