Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Should You Read the Bible from Start to Finish?

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Should You Read the Bible from Start to Finish?

Article excerpt

Rarely is there only one way to do something. When it comes to exploring scripture, resist Bible fascists who insist their way is correct. Your best approach is influenced by a lot of factors, including context, time, and personality. Are you engaging this project alone or in a study group? Are you committed across a lifetime or compressing your effort into a single semester? Are you fierce about your goals, or do you tend to quit at the first obstacle?

As a young adult, I read the Bible cover to cover. This kamikaze method is generally discouraged: Many people get bogged down in the third book, Leviticus, and never recover. Since I'm into the completion thing, Leviticus wasn't going to defeat me! I limited my study to three chapters a day, including all footnotes--those really helped. It took two years to reach Revelations 22, and while I've never done the Genesis-to-Revelation route again, I've also never stopped reading the Bible by other means. The only troublesome result I faced is awakening a desire to go to seminary and study scripture in more depth.

Some books--like Genesis, Exodus, and the four gospels--are more familiar, involve more storytelling, and seem more accessible. That's why some experts recommend taking up those first or reading them interspersed with tougher texts like prophecy and the letters of Paul. If you prefer a little reward after hard effort, this might be a more helpful organization.

Reading the Bible "out of order" won't confuse the sacred story. …

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