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Where to start when reading the bible

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    Hello all,

    I want to start reading the Bible. FYI I'm an atheist but I'm more interested in it as a piece of literature and a point of reference when it comes to religious discussion. The trouble is, I've never even read part of it, bar the stories taught to me in Sunday school. And those were from the Good News Bible :P Anyway, just wondering if anyone had any suggestions of which version to read, for ease of understanding.. And also where to begin? Should I just start at the beginning of the OT and work my way right through to the end or should I read some other parts first?

    Thanks!
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    (Original post by xoxjubixox)
    Hello all,

    I want to start reading the Bible. FYI I'm an atheist but I'm more interested in it as a piece of literature and a point of reference when it comes to religious discussion. The trouble is, I've never even read part of it, bar the stories taught to me in Sunday school. And those were from the Good News Bible :P Anyway, just wondering if anyone had any suggestions of which version to read, for ease of understanding.. And also where to begin? Should I just start at the beginning of the OT and work my way right through to the end or should I read some other parts first?

    Thanks!


    If you can read Hebrew and/or Greek, I'd encourage you to read the Bible in the original text. Yet if not, the New King James Version is pretty easy to read. For me, the best place to start is at Genesis chapters 1-3. After that, you can skip around if you wish.
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    I'd start where the talking snake tricks Adam and Eve. :mad:
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    Not the beginning of the OT... its all so boring and so you'll struggle to keep your attention on reading it.
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    Nothing wrong with a Good News Bible, imho. I'd either start at Genesis or with the Gospels. I wouldn't necessarily try and read the Bible in order: some parts of it can be quite dull/dense.

    Happy reading!
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    Read the Bible according to Milligan first.
    For no other reason than the fact that it's hilarious.
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    I'd start with the Gospels. Then move on to the Prophets and the Wisdom Literature. Read the Douay Rheims as it's not missing 7 books.

    I'd also read it alongside the writings of the Church Fathers. Most of these can be found for free online.

    When reading the Gospels read it with this and this book.
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    (Original post by xoxjubixox)
    Hello all,

    I want to start reading the Bible. FYI I'm an atheist but I'm more interested in it as a piece of literature and a point of reference when it comes to religious discussion. The trouble is, I've never even read part of it, bar the stories taught to me in Sunday school. And those were from the Good News Bible :P Anyway, just wondering if anyone had any suggestions of which version to read, for ease of understanding.. And also where to begin? Should I just start at the beginning of the OT and work my way right through to the end or should I read some other parts first?

    Thanks!
    Good thing to do! I currently work for a church and would love to help you out if you have any questions in terms of what you are reading?

    My best suggestion would be not to read it from start to finish, as in that will make it really hard going. To get a good understanding about the bible as a whole I'd recommend reading Genesis 1-12 and then if you like it keep going. If you are finding that heavy the New Testament and any of the gospels would be another great place to pick it up.

    My best suggestion would be to maybe read a book which gives you an overview of the bible and dips into stories and would ground everything. I'm really happy to send you my copy of a book I read recently called 'God's Big Picture', it sounds really religious but it actually is a pretty normal and good read!

    Does that help at all? If you;d like the book PM me!
    Matt
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    "In the beginning..."
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    I'm not sure I'd bother unless you have some need to know it's contents. If you like ancient literature there's far better choices.
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    The Old Testament has some fun stories in, wild bears ripping apart children and whatnot. The New Testament can get a bit boring and preachy.
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    King James Bible, and start at the beginning. I got half-way through the OT before stopping. I should start it up again. OT is far more interesting than NT (with the exception of Revelations), because it's just completely insane!
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    It's better if you read a Bible handbook or something. I'd recommend John Bowker's Complete Bible Handbook.
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    (Original post by mattatca)
    Good thing to do! I currently work for a church and would love to help you out if you have any questions in terms of what you are reading?

    My best suggestion would be not to read it from start to finish, as in that will make it really hard going. To get a good understanding about the bible as a whole I'd recommend reading Genesis 1-12 and then if you like it keep going. If you are finding that heavy the New Testament and any of the gospels would be another great place to pick it up.

    My best suggestion would be to maybe read a book which gives you an overview of the bible and dips into stories and would ground everything. I'm really happy to send you my copy of a book I read recently called 'God's Big Picture', it sounds really religious but it actually is a pretty normal and good read!

    Does that help at all? If you;d like the book PM me!
    Matt
    Thank you, that is so much help! I think, as you say I may start with Genesis etc and maybe jump around a bit, seems a little less daunting than attempting to tackle it start to finish.

    Thanks for the recommendation of the book (although I couldn't possibly ask you do send me your copy, that's far too kind!!), but I will look in to it. Do you think it's at all biased? I mean it says it helps everything to sort of "fall in to place", but if the author is a Christian I might expect that he writes it with some sort of bias so that it falls in to place as he wants it to.. Not sure if that makes any sense, but would be great to get your opinion! And thanks for the kind offer of answering any questions, I'm sure I'll have many. Much appreciated!
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    (Original post by xoxjubixox)
    Hello all,

    I want to start reading the Bible. FYI I'm an atheist but I'm more interested in it as a piece of literature and a point of reference when it comes to religious discussion. The trouble is, I've never even read part of it, bar the stories taught to me in Sunday school. And those were from the Good News Bible :P Anyway, just wondering if anyone had any suggestions of which version to read, for ease of understanding.. And also where to begin? Should I just start at the beginning of the OT and work my way right through to the end or should I read some other parts first?

    Thanks!
    Hey, I would start with one or all four of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke ,John) and then go to genesis and read that. Feel free to jump around after that although I would read the old testament chronologically if you dont know much about biblical history otherwise you may get lost.
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    (Original post by adamrules247)
    I'd also read it alongside the writings of the Church Fathers. Most of these can be found for free online.
    I'm yet to learn of a book I couldn't find here if it makes tracking down quicker (other than, of course, the ones that no longer exist).

    In any case to answer the OP, wherever you start I think it's important you ensure you bear in mind is that the bible is not and never was written to be one book. Each individual "book" of the bible was written at different times, for different purposes and often by different people. Very little of it was written to be viewed as scripture in the sense we now think of it, the torah maybe but its origin is clouded in a lot of doubt, some of the law books (kind of scripture, more like reading through bills in the house of commons but relating to a religious state and written in prose).

    This isn't to say the documents weren't intended to teach religion or be seen as untrue, but they were up for debate or intended to quell it in response to specific issues (Paul's epistles and the gospel of Luke are perhaps the most obvious examples of this).

    Just keep this in mind as you read it.
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    (Original post by mmmpie)
    I'm not sure I'd bother unless you have some need to know it's contents. If you like ancient literature there's far better choices.
    I disagree parts of the bible are easily on par in terms of the beauty of the text, depth that can be reached into and the richness of the visual depiction with the works of Virgil and Homer. The opening of genesis is a genuinely inspired creation, some of the psalms are fantastically well written.

    That said I'll grant you that the law books are about as interesting as mud is (unless you're a bioligist, in which case you might find mud very interesting indeed, but hey if you're an ancient historian who specialises in reconstructing early Jewish law long lists of how to hang your curtain could be interesting too)
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    page 1?
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    (Original post by xoxjubixox)
    Hello all,

    I want to start reading the Bible. FYI I'm an atheist but I'm more interested in it as a piece of literature and a point of reference when it comes to religious discussion. The trouble is, I've never even read part of it, bar the stories taught to me in Sunday school. And those were from the Good News Bible :P Anyway, just wondering if anyone had any suggestions of which version to read, for ease of understanding.. And also where to begin? Should I just start at the beginning of the OT and work my way right through to the end or should I read some other parts first?

    Thanks!
    Hello xoxjubixox,

    That's cool! It is always great to read books that are important to other people, to understand why they are important to other people!

    I encourage you to ask the following questions to yourself in order to determine where to start reading in the Bible and why.

    1. Am I interested in reading the Tanakh or the Christian Bible?

    Based on your answer, I would encourage you to read the English translation of the Hebrew Tanakh or a modern yet close English translation of the Christian Bible (or two and three, and compare to English translations of the Hebrew Tanakh for the Old Testament.) So cool and exciting! Sorry, I love to study the Bible.

    2. Do I want to focus on literal translations or translations closer in meaning?

    Even though translations from one language to another can be confusing and not spot on, I personally think it's best to focus on translations closer in meaning. The reason I like the NIV is because I think it does a good job for the most part in translating meanings. Although the ESV is considered to be a better more literal translation/version, I like the NIV's references to the Old Testament, and I love reading the English translations of the Hebrew Tanakh and compare them to the NIV.

    In translations, literal can get confusing. For example, in Spanish, tengo hambre means I have hunger, but in English, most of the time people say I"m hungry, instead of "I have hunger." So, when translating meanings, most translators will just translate tengo hambre to I am hungry.

    3. Am I more interested in the foundation or in understanding the beliefs of the Christians?

    If you are more interested in the foundation, which is the Law of Moses, then I would encourage you to start in Genesis. If you are more interested in understanding the beliefs of the Christians, then I encourage you to start in John or Matthew. Whichever way, I think it's really important to study quotes from the Old Testament that are in the New Testament. That has been one of my greatest passions in personal studies.

    Peace and God bless you, and if you have any questions concerning what Christians believe about different Scriptures, I'd be happy to answer them, cause that's one thing I love to do!
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    Near the nearest accessible dustbin.

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