“Read a Bible” would definitely have been a simpler title for this page, but these days you can also listen to the Bible and watch various bits of it acted out on video.
“Use a Bible” would also have been nice and short as a title but too many people have ‘used’ the Bible for their own purposes so that didn’t seem quite right either.
The other reason for using the term ‘engage’ is because it’s meant to be more than just passively reading or listening. It is meant to provoke questions, and discussion, and a fair bit of wonder. You are meant to come away from it having been challenged and changed.
This blog is written in the UK where the 2011 census found 59% of people in England and Wales said they were Christians.The number of church goers and Bible readers is much lower than that.
The census and other data also showed that there are at least 300 languages spoken in Britain (probably much higher still as there were a lot of categories of ‘other’ for some of the smaller languages)
It’s the belief of this blogger (and many millions of other people) that the collection of books know as the Bible have been inspired by God. It seems to be the assumption of most of the writers of the different books that they are writing for those who believe in God and who approach it with a desire to know God better.
The Bible isn’t a novel, it isn’t a how to guide or a reference book. It’s a mix of different kinds of writings and …well lots of Bibles have handy introductions added at the beginning of each book and there are lots of great resources available to help you get to grips with it. One such resource is How to Read the Bible for All it’s Worth (Fee & Stuart updated 2014). You can read the first few pages of that free on Amazon and buy the rest if you find it helpful.
The Bible itself is available free in lots of different translations.
You don’t have to start reading at Genesis and keep reading straight through to Revelation but it’s worth reading or listening in large chunks and getting the big picture rather just looking for the most quoted bits. It’s all worth reading but if you are approaching the Bible for the fist time you might want to start by reading the gospel of Luke and then the book of Acts.
Luke states his reason for writing nice and early on “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”
According to a handy chart at http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/three-tips-for-better-bible-reading it should only take about two and a half hours to read all of Luke, which for anyone interested in questions of peace, joy, purpose, meaning, forgiveness, freedom or eternal life, seems like two and a half hours well spent.
In the last couple of years a great series of videos have been produced by The Bible Project that give some great introductions to each book of the Bible and some key themes. Here’s an intro to the whole Bible to give you a feel of their style and to encourage you to visit their site at https://thebibleproject.com/ .
I’ll add add further thoughts and links to other good resources on this blog over the coming months. Add a comment or hit the share button if you find this blog useful.