Saturday, September 7, 2019

Reading the Bible

A section from a booklet I'm writing for new Christians:

There are two ways of reading the Bible: fast, and slow. Use both.


Most people mostly read the Bible slowly: usually in their daily devotions or as a quiet respite from daily activities.

Devotional reading

Is a practice that is as old as the church. It includes reading a passage of convenient length, prayer, meditation on the text, and sometimes reading of Christian poetry or hymns. Some also keep a journal of their devotions. People might use an historic ‘prayer book’ to aid them and it can be helpful to use a commentary or devotional notes along with the Bible passage to aid understanding.


Studying the Bible differs from devotional reading in that it seeks to understand the text and its application to or effect on our thinking and behaviour. Usually a book of the bible or theme is worked through using various published reference works such as Bible dictionaries or encyclopaedia, commentaries on the book being studied, which are the work of scholars to aid our detailed understanding of the passage and special dictionaries called lexicons, to help our understanding of the words used in the original languages of Greek and Hebrew.
There’s computer software that can be very helpful for studying.


Not much is said in church circles about fast reading. But fast reading is good. This is taking the Bible as one would take any book and reading it, or selected books, as a whole and reasonable quickly. Devotional reading could take years to read the entire Bible. Fast reading could see it read in a couple of months, depending on the time one has.
You are likely to find, reading fast, that the Bible contains some great stories. My own view is that the first five books: the ‘Pentateuch’ or Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy are a great ‘saga’ of epic proportions. The OT history books can be just as enthralling.
In the NT the gospels are also great stories, and with four there is likely to be a style that you find particularly attractive. Most of the NT letters can be read in one sitting.
The table below sets out some approaches to the order to read the various books in to quickly give you a grasp of the whole Bible teaching.
Which ever approach, find a translation you like, but also read other translations from time to time to gain some differing perspectives on the text and perhaps your faith.

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