The Bible is a long and complicated book, but the great thing is that we don’t have to read and understand it all in one go. We have our whole lives to spend reading it and soaking it up. We will never reach a stage when we’ve read and understood all if it. We will always learn something new from this book if we are reading it for the first or even if we are reading it through for the 495th time.
If you are looking for a way to start reading the Bible we recommend not starting at the beginning. The Bible is made up of 66 books which together tell the story of how God is at work in this world. The Old Testament is about before Jesus was born and how God was at work in preparation for his coming. The book of Acts tells of the spread of Jesus’ message and the letters of the New Testament give us practical advice about how to live in response to Jesus’ message. These are all veritable goldmines, but if you’re looking at the Bible for the first time, why not start with one of the gospels? The four gospels (Mathew, Mark, Luke and John) are mini biographies of Jesus’ life. They are a great place to start because you can get acquainted with Jesus by reading about him.
The Bible was originally written in Greek and Hebrew and there are many different English language translations to choose from; from the ‘King James’ Bible’ (which is written in old English) to the ‘Message’ (which is very contemporary, poetic interpretation). The key is to find a translation which is written in a language that we find easy to read and trust to be an accurate recital of what was originally written. Try visiting www.biblegateway.com and looking at different translations.
It may also be worth looking for help. There are loads of Bible study aids on the market which can help. They’ll give you a passage (or passages) to read each day with some questions to work through. Some will take you through the whole Bible in a year, others will focus in on a book or theme.
Some helpful resources
- Bible reading apps:
- You version access the Bible on your phone
- Bible in a year – a scheme to help you read the whole Bible in 15 minutes a day for one year with an option to read explanations. You can also opt to receive daily emails online or have the daily content read to you by David Suchet.
- Church of England resources:
- Diocese of Oxford: Reading the Bible a simple guide