Read It!

The most important thing to do if you want to read and understand the Bible, is to read it.

The scriptures are made up of numerous books, authored over many centuries, written in three languages, and in a wide range of genre. To become a student of the scriptures involves starting to read from these texts. No one can grasp it all in a short time. It will take reading, thinking and connecting in your mind the events and ideas.
There are many methods. Let us suggest a few.

1. Shipwreck Plan – many people simply begin at the beginning, as you would a novel, and start reading. However, this ship usually flounders on the rocks of Temple ritual (Leviticus) or genealogies (Numbers).

2. Chronological Plan – there are places to look to find the scriptures listed Chronologically. The advantage is that you get a sense of the flow of Biblical history. However, if you start in January, it will take you until October to get to the new Testament. (The second link below has a chronological plan as an option.)

3. Pick a Book Plan – here you recognize that the Bible is a library. So select a book that is of interest to you, such as Genesis or John, and focus your reading on that book. This has the advantage of being able to concentrate on a smaller part of the whole. Don't just read through, but read the book several times, consider it's shape and outline. Think about it's major themes. Look up some of the parts you don't understand in a reference work.

4. This N That Plan – several bible reading plans will move you around the scriptures so you don't feel stuck. This might bounce you from book to book, or it might give you a few chapters from the OT, the NT and the Psalms (for devotional reading). If you own a study bible, you probably have a plan like this already. An excellent This N That Plan in book form is: "Search the Scriptures" available from InterVarsity Press. Go to IVPress

We suggest the Pick a Book plan. A good place to start is one of the Gospels – John is the easiest for many. If you prefer a through the bible plan here are some links:

Verse of the Day has 4 methods of reading through the Bible
Verse of the Day
That Bible Plan has 14 methods
Bible Plan

The Important thing, to repeat, is to pick a way that works for you, and to start reading. As with any subject, the more you read, the more you will understand. If the Bible is unfamiliar to you, do not feel discouraged. It will take time. Remember that it takes time to learn about anything: knitting, football, ancient history, how to keep Windows from crashing.



2 thoughts on “Read It!

  1. i was recently reading esther and my bible said in one of the notes talking about why the name of God was never mentioned and i quote, “Some, reading between the lines, suggest that Esther and Mordecai were not outstanding examples of faith. The two were even willing to hide Esther’s Jewish background. Esther showed no reluctance to be married to a pagan king and become part of his harem. Most critically, she and Mordecai (along with all the other Jews in Esther) had chosen not to return to JErusalem with the first wave of Jews nearly half a century earlier. Those who stayed in Persia presumably cared more about their finances than about God’s plans for the Jews to Jerusalem from exile. Perhaps because of this, Esther is told as a secular story to illustrate GOd’s care over even “Secularized” Jews.”

    This explanation really bothered me because
    1) I had always believed that Esther was showing Great faith in that she was following God throughout all circumstances rather than a “non outstanding example of faith”

    and 2) it seems to belittle a book of the bible.

    I’m not really sure what my exact question is, but can you shed any light on my bible’s explanation of Esther.

  2. This is a good example of the need for a FRESH READ, if you pardon the expression. The issue is an interpretation in your footnotes. So the question is whether there is any basis for this idea in the text of Esther.

    Esther married a Gentile, which is an issue in the OT law. However, so did Boaz marry Ruth, and she entered the line of David. Moses married a Gentile. Is there any word of accusation in the story of Esther about this? I don’t find any. It rather seems to be God’s way to make it possible for Israel to survive a future danger.

    Esther did not move back. Actually, very few moved back. Daniel did not return, for example, but there is no accusation of him. 2:10 says Mordecai said she should not say who she was. the last word on Mordecai seems to be positive (10:3) Esther seems to be commended for her wisdom and prudence, in following the advice of her mentor and showing good character in addition to beauty. She is commended for her courage and faith (asking for prayer) when the crisis came.

    Is there another reason for God’s name not to be mentioned? Notice that they are captives in a foreign country. this effects how one speaks and acts. Also, prayer is often mentioned – Is the book written to people besides the Jewish people? If it has an international audience, then the reason God’s name is not mentioned, is that they are sharing the power and wisdom of the God of Israel without naming his name. Someone might read the story and say, “I want to know more about this God of Israel…”

    In sum – read the book carefully and try to see how the book portrays Esther and Mordecai. Other people are sometimes seen as ashamed or fearful, (Gideon in Judges before his call). It does not seem so here.

    Remember footnotes are opinions, we need to read the text for ourselves.

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