Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Too Overwhelming to Read the Whole Bible

Today's question has two team members answering ...

Q: How do I go about reading the Bible? It looks too overwhelming to read it all at once. What are the most important books to read? How do I start?

A1: If you just want to read the entire Bible, I’d suggest taking a few minutes every morning to read a few passages, starting with Genesis and going through the entire Old and New Testaments. (Or, of course, if you’re particularly interested in one book, you can focus on that.) You can mark down the passages you find really interesting (in a different notebook, especially if the Bible is not your own copy). When you’ve finished, you can go back and read the ones you marked or even start on rereading it. You can also look up any questions you have or words you don’t know.

A helpful book for you might be My Daily Catholic Bible edited by Paul Thigpen [Our Sunday Visitor]. It has 20-minute readings that allow you to read the whole Bible in one year.

But the easiest way to take in the entire Bible, might just be to go to daily Mass. If you go to Mass every day for three years, you’ll have heard and read the entire Bible through the daily readings (Liturgy of the Word).

Another thing I’d suggest is to find a good Catholic Bible study that can help you learn the connections between the Catechism and the Bible. I’m in one at a church in my neighborhood, and it’s really helped me to understand more about the Bible that I didn’t before.


A2: In terms of which books are more important, I found the answer in the Second Edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. According to the Catechism, the books of both the New Testament and the Old Testament are equally important, due to the divine inspiration that lead to their creation. Both Testaments influence one another, working together to provide God’s Truth to us. “As an old saying put it, the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New” (CCC, 129). However, the Catechism recognizes the Gospels as the center of the Sacred Scriptures, because Christ is their focus (CCC, 139).

The Bible is one of the oldest and most influential books of all time. It tells the story of God and of ourselves, from our creation to our salvation. It offers valuable insight into how to live a full life, be a good person, and find joy in God. There is no wrong way to read the Scriptures, so try not to worry about “doing it right” – just take your time, and enjoy it. However, if you would like some form of guidance in starting on your journey through the past, here are some tips for reading the Bible, which I have found useful in the past.

When reading the Scriptures, one logical place to start is in the beginning (no pun intended). Simply find some time, sit down, open up to page one of Genesis and start reading. If you prefer the Psalms to the Book of Genesis, start there – or Sirach, or Proverbs, or the Gospel according to Mark – which book you begin with is really inconsequential. Take it at your own pace – start with a few paragraphs at a time, or even read a chapter every day. The important part of reading the Bible is not to get through it, but to understand it and walk away with some form of knowledge you did not have before.

Remember: you are not the first person to read the Bible, so talk to your parents, friends, or priest about anything you may find interesting or disconcerting. Good luck and enjoy!

Maureen D.