The BibleThe BibleWays of Reading the Bible
by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

So you want to read the Bible? That’s great!
But where do you begin? And how do you proceed?

Since the Bible is not like most other books, simply starting at the beginning and trying to read all the way to the end (from Genesis to Revelation) is probably not the best way to proceed for most people. If you attempt this, you might find the books of Genesis and Exodus rather familiar and/or interesting, but you'll probably get confused by Leviticus, may get bored plowing through Numbers, and might quit even before finishing Deuteronomy.

If you are a Christian, you might be tempted to skip the Old Testament and jump right into the Gospels. But this also is not the best approach, since you might be disturbed by the many discrepancies between the four Gospels, bewildered by the complex theology of Paul’s letters, confused by the imagery of Hebrews, and again quit before you get to the end of Revelation.

So how should you go about reading the Bible? No one plan is best for everyone, but different people might find various methods helpful, especially since each reader may have a vastly different goal (spiritual, academic, social, etc.) in reading the Bible. Thus, some people may choose to read short selections from the scriptures daily or weekly, following the Lectionary or liturgical cycle of their Church. Others might wish to follow a one-year plan (or a multi-year plan) for reading every book of the Old and New Testaments, but not necessarily in biblical order. Still others will want to read one biblical book at a time in depth, either on their own, or with the help of commentaries, or in a Bible Study group, or in an academic course.

By now there are many resources, both online and in print, which can help you read, pray, and/or study the Bible. This webpage is not intended to be comprehensive, but merely to provide some suggestions and resources, especially for your own spiritual nourishment or small prayer groups. Below is also an introduction to Lectio Divina, an ancient method of reading and praying with the scriptures that is being rediscovered today.

Plans for Choosing Which Biblical Texts to Read

1) Liturgical/Lectionary Approach:

2) Canonical Approach:

3) Christo-centric Approach:

4) Thematic/Theological Approach:

Other Online Plans and Ways of Encountering the Bible:

See also
Methods of Praying with the Scriptures

including brief introductions to the topic of prayer in general and to some of the most common forms of biblical prayer:

Biblical Meditation | Ignatian Contemplation | Taizé-Style Prayer | Centering Prayer | Lectio Divina


Electronic New Testament Educational Resources

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This page was last updated on November 16, 2017
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