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Guide to Reading the Bible

At one of our Bible 101 classes, we did a simple exercise that folks found helpful. We described the books of the Bible so they’d know where to turn, depending on the kind of comfort, inspiration, and learning they wanted to do. Here’s that break down; a brief guide that hopefully will be helpful to you too!

  • The Bible is not one book, but a library of 66 books. Each falls into a different section.
  • The Old Testament has laws, history, poetry, and prophecy.
  • The New Testament has Gospels, history, letters to churches, and a story of the end times.
  • If you want to read the great stories, Genesis and Exodus as well as Esther, Ruth, and Job are great stories in the Hebrew Scriptures. They read almost like novels.
  • The four Gospels, the story of Jesus’ life and ministry, read like a collection of short stories. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are quite similar, and John is the “mystic” gospel, filled with the most stories of miracles and words of Jesus talking to his disciples.
  • Acts as well as the Old Testament books starting Joshua and ending with Nehemiah are for those who love history.
  • Want advice on how to run a church, that’s what Paul’s letters are for.
  • Want to think a bit, go to Proverbs.
  • Want inspiration, go to the Psalms; and if you don’t like the harsher parts, you can skip those.

The prophets in the Bible predict the future God wants. Do they speak to today? Read them and find out.

The key to enjoying the Bible and understanding it begins with knowing that each book is different; they have different purposes, styles, and contexts. Start with the book that looks most interesting to you and God make speak to you in ways you never expected.


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