‘Tips on How to Read the Bible from Start to Finish’ by Fiza Pathan: Essay
This year, I managed to read the Holy Bible from start to finish. I did this in two months. I started reading it on the 21st of March, 2020, and ended on the 11th of May, 2020. I had a lot of teaching, corrections, and writing work to be done, that is why I took a bit longer to read it. I read each word and verse. Today, I’m going to talk about how you can read the entire Bible in as short a period as I did. I have mentioned in an earlier post about why I decided to read the entire Bible from start to finish; you can check that out later for reference.
To be frank, reading the Bible is not as difficult as people make it out to be. It is a very interesting book if you read it seriously, with discernment, and with conviction in your mind. My edition of the Bible was The New Community Bible printed for an Indian readership. It has 2,265 pages in all and was a joy to read as well as to reflect on. I am now in the process of studying the Bible deeply so that I will be able to evangelize.
Now, we come to the tips. Remember, these tips are my subjective viewpoints on how to read the Bible. They have not been taken from any guide book or Bible interpretation book. These thoughts are mine, and I hope they will be helpful to you. So, let’s start:
1. In the BEGINNING, was the Word: I implore you to start the Bible right at the beginning with the Book of Genesis. It would be nice if you even read the introductions to your Bible to get an idea about what went into creating and publishing the Bible you are holding in your hands – the living Word of God. When you start at the beginning, you will find the genealogies, city names, tribe names, and so on more clearly and in chronological order. Personally, even where regular books are concerned, if they are in a series, I prefer starting with the first book and take it from there. The books in the Bible are not stand-alone so please read the entire Bible in their proper sequence, right from the beginning, to get an idea of who is who in the Bible.
2. Don’t skip the data: I beg to differ with people who say that when one reads the Bible, one should skip the genealogies, city names, tribe names, etc. I am here to say very frankly that if you take the trouble to read with concentration then these intricate details will stick in your mind and help you to understand salvation history better. We read Harry Potter in the same manner, right? Even ‘Game of Thrones’, even though they have so many details and characters; then why not the Bible? Just a bit of a fact-checker: the entire series of J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ books add up to a total of 4,224 pages according to Scholastic while ‘Game of Thrones’ is 4,197. The Bible is a maximum 2,000 pages and is the narrative of the greatest love story in the world that has defined almost EVERYTHING that we do today, period.
3. Discipline yourself to read: You need to decide that you require the knowledge in this book and should strive to discipline yourself to read it. I did so by using a very common psychological technique. When I read the Bible, I used to pretend in my mind that either Fr. Warner D’Souza or Cardinal Oswald Gracias was reading out the Bible to me. For more about who these two amazing Catholic priests are, check out my earlier blog ‘How I read the Bible in Two Months’. So, I used to read the Bible in their voice which used to immediately get me into a studious mood. Then I would be calmed and read the Bible with the reflections given in the notes section. Try this out especially when you are feeling a bit drowsy. Use the ‘voice’ of a person who you admire to read the Bible to you. Don’t use Audible or an audiobook. It just doesn’t work that well with the Bible; believe me, I’ve tried that. Use your own ‘voice in your head’ to do this. Use the voice of your pastor, priest, bishop, the mother superior, or anyone else who you think is the living image of what the Bible teaches you, to ‘read to your heart’.
4. Don’t speed-read: Whatever you do, don’t try speed-reading the Bible. That is going to backfire. The Bible is a book replete with spiritual, psychological, literary, metaphysical, sociological, philosophical, theological, esoteric data and it is impossible to absorb all that as you just whiz past through it. No, please read it from the beginning and read it at a normal pace that is comfortable for you, to take in everything that the Holy Bible wants to teach you. Remember, your aim is not only to finish reading the Bible but also to gain divine wisdom and knowledge from it. That cannot happen if you speed read through the book.
5. Make Notes: Yes, you can scribble in your Bible and make notes so that you can better understand the Bible. God is not going to send you into the Valley of Josephat if you scribble your understanding and comprehensive thoughts in the holy book. The Bible is there for you to read and perceive with clarity, not to keep as a showpiece only to be remembered on Bible Sunday. To aid yourself to memorize certain topics, themes, or to analyze something in your own words, making notes is great and very beneficial.
6. Read it like a story: For heaven’s sake don’t read the Bible without emotion. It is a story of God’s relationship with humanity at the end of the day, and we must read the Bible with fascination and wonder. Be attentive to it. Read it as you feel it. Whether you are a believer or unbeliever in the eternal Word of God, if you read ANYTHING in the proper chronological storyline then the many stories and events in the Bible will start to make sense.
7. Find a nook: I’m not so fond of this point but if it is possible, thanks to you having a big home or if you are financially comfortable, then invest in a place called a nook or a dedicated area in your home to read the Bible. You will then automatically sync in with your surroundings to read the Bible and gain from it. However, I can read the Bible practically anywhere. That is possible when you condition your mind to make it possible. Your mind is more powerful than you think. If it can tolerate draconian leaders of the post-truth era then reading the Bible is a much more pleasant experience.
8. Go through the Maps: Every Bible has a series of maps. Mine had six maps related to the story of God’s promise to man. Please refer to your maps when you want to locate a particular place. Don’t do it obsessively but do it within limits. Then you will get an understanding of the biblical places, why they were named thus, where they were situated, and so forth. I found it very easy to read the Bible because of the maps. If your Bible doesn’t have the required maps, then check it out on the internet. You won’t regret it.
9. Read the individual book introductions: Every book in the Bible right from Genesis to Revelations will have an introduction. You should read those introductions and not skip it. These introductions are the synopsis to each book in the Bible. Why would you want to read a book without reading what it will be all about? Okay, maybe you don’t want to read all the notes mentioned in the Bible but at least read the introductions; it isn’t taxing at all. In fact, it will be fruitful for you.
10. Old Testament First: Don’t read the New Testament first. Start with the Old Testament from the Book of Genesis. You will never be able to comprehend the salvation which the Lord Jesus has got for us if you don’t go through the history of salvation itself. Yes, it’s a big part of the Bible, but it’s interesting, action-packed, and full of wisdom pointers that will just blow your mind away.
These are a few tips that I have used when I was reading the Bible this year. I hope you will try to apply these tips to your reading of the Bible. I highly recommend The New Community Bible for its simple language and excellent presentation but feel free to choose the Bible you wish to read. Remember, a Catholic Bible has 73 books while a Protestant Bible has 66 books. A Catholic Bible has the term ‘Catholic edition’ imprinted on it. So, choose according to your preferences. I am right now doing an intensive Bible study of the Pentateuch and hope to share some of my reflections on them as and when I can. I am also reading the book The Secret History of the Gnostics by Andrew Phillip Smith which is giving a whole different view on Salvation history. I will review the book on this blog when I finish reading it.
If you are interested in more book reviews, book review analysis, short story analysis, poems, essays, essay analysis, and other bookish content, then you can check out my blog insaneowl.com. If you want to buy my books then you can check out my website fizapathanpublishing.us or fizapathan.com. Happy reading to you and God bless you!
Copyright © 2020 Fiza Pathan