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Where to start when reading the bible

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    Definitely jump around. "The bible" isn't one book as much as a conglomeration of smaller works arranged — despite the Christian bible's old and new testaments — without much regard for chronology, so there's no reason approach it as if it were.

    Some good places to start imho:

    Proverbs — one of the most underrated books of the bible. It's a bunch of aphorisms with observations, admonitions and advice — most of it pretty useful.

    The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) — four versions of the same story. It's the only place in the bible that claims to document what Jesus said and did. This is the filet mignon of the new testament, especially to anyone interested in being Christian.

    Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) — Ancient love poem included for unknown reasons. But it's good. Rated R

    Psalms — Prayers, mostly. Or you can read them that way. There's one I like that calls upon God for protection from smug rich people.

    Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Numbers — this is where you find those draconian laws.

    I'm doing this from memory, so if I've made a mistake somewhere; sorry.
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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!
    I recommend starting with the New Testament, since Christians believe the bible to be all about Jesus and in my opinion it's much easier to read the Old Testament once you've read the New I would recommend starting with a Gospel- the Gospel of Mark is the shortest and it's quite pacy and easy to read with a clear explanation of who Jesus is and why He came. After that maybe a letter e.g. Romans, which is Paul's detailed explanation of the gospel and how to live in the light of it.

    In terms of Old Testament- the Old Testament can be split into chunks of history, wisdom literature (instructions of how to live for God in this world) and prophecy, when God reveals His word to specific people. When reading the Old Testament, I'd recommend reading Genesis and Exodus first and then maybe more historical narritive books such as Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel- just because the prophecy and wisdom books reference Old Testament history a lot and if you've read the history books it's much easier to read them.

    As for Bible translations I'd recommend the New International Version- it's extremely accurate and also very readable.
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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!
    I'd strongly recommend reading it in the original language if possible. If not, I know that the JPS published an Old Testament that was directly translated from the original Hebrew to English without the intermediary languages diluting it. The differences are immense. I'm sure somewhere has published the NT translated directly from the original Greek.
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    (Original post by xoxjubixox)
    I want to start reading the Bible. ...
    The book of Acts, chapter 2 is where the New Testament actually begins, this is God's message to un-regenerated / natural / mortal people today.
    God speaks to his people through the other scriptures, but you first need to become one of his people by receiving His Spirit, as detailed. Without that you remain unable to digest spiritual messages.

    Also, God's people are "living epistles", the word of God made alive, so if you want to appreciate what God is saying you should also visit a church like the one in Acts.
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    The gospels written by Paul have a lot of arguments in them, and because Paul was a Jew,a Pharisee and a Roman, he knew well what he was talking about. He also ministered to gentiles of his time, so he had a way of clearly and logically presenting his arguments. His debating style is shown in a sophisticated manner in Galatians.

    Anyway, I suggest you buy a devotional study bible. I use one, and it's very useful and helping one to manage their time on reading the bible. The bible is thick and could be overwhelming. After you pick a book in the bible, you'll have to see which chapter to start with. Sometimes, you don't really have to start with the first chapter, and that's what the devotional study bible helps you out with. It will help you read the bible in a more chronological or logical order. It will also have some insights in it which you might find useful for arguments.

    At the first few pages of the bible, there are usually some explanations about its history. If you want to know more about how the bible was passed on to our generation you could watch the movie "The King James Bible: the Book that Changed the World"

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Updated: May 13, 2012
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