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What's the best way to read the Bible?

#1toxicpiePosted 7/3/2013 3:08:14 PM
I tried to just do it in order (Genesis, then Exodus etc.) but I've heard that's the wrong way to go about it. Apparently it is good to read all the Gospels first, then Genesis then more of the New Testament but after that I really don't know. I was also going to read a Psalm a day.
Any suggestions from Christians, ex-Christians and even atheists who read the Bible as a historical document would be very much appreciated!
Thank you!
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Psalm 27:1
#2JonWood007Posted 7/3/2013 3:18:48 PM
Atheist, ex christian here, studied the Bible a bit in college before.

Seeing how you definitely seem to want to treat it historically, definitely start with the old testament. The Bible is not star wars, despite what Christians say. You don't start with episode 4 and then go back to episode 1 after watching episode 6. The idea of starting out with the new testament and the gospels is done for theological reasons, and is meant to make you interpret the rest of the book through a new testament lens. However, you're not going to understand what the Bible actually says in its original historical context by doing this. Despite what Christians claim, the OT has little to nothing to do with Jesus, what you have there is a retroactive reinterpretation of everything to fit a certain theological point of view.

What I'd recommend doing is starting with genesis and going onward from there. I will admit, appraoching the OT is pretty complex, as the books are not really in chronological order, so you may want to skip around a bit. That being said, I'd recommend you get a book or two on the Bible written from a scholarly approach (not by some religious hack with an agenda, I can't emphasize this enough), or at the very least, follow along with these open yale courses (lectures are free, books are not, you get no credit, it's all for your own informational purposes).

http://oyc.yale.edu/religious-studies

You need to understand how the religious culture evolves. You need to understand the historical contexts at the time to actually get it from a historical perspective, and you need to understand how the theology develops. What Christians do, they take their quite evolved theology and try to force it on the rest of the book, which makes it into something it's not. Again, the idea of starting out with the gospels is a christian idea done for theological reasons, it's an attempt to frame the entire bible from a certain perspective. However, if you actually want to understand it historically, this is a BAD idea.
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#3Polish_CrusaderPosted 7/3/2013 3:19:13 PM
Well, that would depend. The bibles chapters are in a linear time line. Genesis is the earliest one, revelation is the latest one. What are you trying to get out of it?

For me, i like to read the areas that most directly apply to my life- the entire new testament, and various chapters of the old testament- proverbs, song of solomon, malachi. Ive read the entire new testament and about half of the old. The old testament is mostly history, so if your all about history that is your best bet.

Again, what are you trying to get out of it?
#4kozlo100Posted 7/3/2013 3:21:24 PM
Depends on what you're trying to get out of it.

Just from a literary perspective, I think front to back is the way to go, but that does take a lot.
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Time flies like the wind,
and fruit flies like a banana.
#5Polish_CrusaderPosted 7/3/2013 3:22:40 PM
JonWood007 posted...
Atheist, ex christian here, studied the Bible a bit in college before.

Seeing how you definitely seem to want to treat it historically, definitely start with the old testament. The Bible is not star wars, despite what Christians say. You don't start with episode 4 and then go back to episode 1 after watching episode 6. The idea of starting out with the new testament and the gospels is done for theological reasons, and is meant to make you interpret the rest of the book through a new testament lens. However, you're not going to understand what the Bible actually says in its original historical context by doing this. Despite what Christians claim, the OT has little to nothing to do with Jesus, what you have there is a retroactive reinterpretation of everything to fit a certain theological point of view.

What I'd recommend doing is starting with genesis and going onward from there. I will admit, appraoching the OT is pretty complex, as the books are not really in chronological order, so you may want to skip around a bit. That being said, I'd recommend you get a book or two on the Bible written from a scholarly approach (not by some religious hack with an agenda, I can't emphasize this enough), or at the very least, follow along with these open yale courses (lectures are free, books are not, you get no credit, it's all for your own informational purposes).

http://oyc.yale.edu/religious-studies

You need to understand how the religious culture evolves. You need to understand the historical contexts at the time to actually get it from a historical perspective, and you need to understand how the theology develops. What Christians do, they take their quite evolved theology and try to force it on the rest of the book, which makes it into something it's not. Again, the idea of starting out with the gospels is a christian idea done for theological reasons, it's an attempt to frame the entire bible from a certain perspective. However, if you actually want to understand it historically, this is a BAD idea.



Wow. that was the most condescending, theologically inaccurate post i have ever seen jon wood make. Completely false. The old testament has been preserved by jewish scholars for thousands of years. I would argue that the new testament books are more preserved than the new testament. Look it up. There are jews that can literally trace their lineage back thousands of years. It all goes back to the old testament.
#6WelshGamer82Posted 7/3/2013 3:23:48 PM
I'd read the New Testament first so that when you eventually go back to the Old Testament, you can understand it in the correct context.
#7JonWood007Posted 7/3/2013 3:34:21 PM(edited)
To be fair, you don't want to structure it straight front to back though, especially as far as parts of the OT goes. Quite a bit of the OT is out of order historically, and there are a lot of literary genres in there that don't fit in well with a straight front to back reading. This is why i suggested he structure it as the open yale courses do it, or how a textbook may present it. I do believe you need some help from external sources to get the historical context that the Bible was written in, so you can get a deeper understanding of the books and what they're trying to get at.

Wow. that was the most condescending, theologically inaccurate post i have ever seen jon wood make. Completely false.


It's not meant to be theological at all.

The old testament has been preserved by jewish scholars for thousands of years. I would argue that the new testament books are more preserved than the new testament. Look it up. There are jews that can literally trace their lineage back thousands of years. It all goes back to the old testament.


That has nothing to do with what I saw saying. I was attacking the whole "new testament first" method.
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#8toxicpie(Topic Creator)Posted 7/3/2013 3:33:34 PM
What do I want to get out of it? Definately to understand more about my own religion and what my holy book teaches. Sorry if this wasn't clear enough, I should've worded it better.

So, I guess NT religiously, and OT for more of a background and yes, some history, but the religious side is more important to me, I suppose. Does that make sense?
Thanks to all answers so far, it's been helpful already!
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Psalm 27:1
#9Polish_CrusaderPosted 7/3/2013 3:45:03 PM
toxicpie posted...
What do I want to get out of it? Definately to understand more about my own religion and what my holy book teaches. Sorry if this wasn't clear enough, I should've worded it better.

So, I guess NT religiously, and OT for more of a background and yes, some history, but the religious side is more important to me, I suppose. Does that make sense?
Thanks to all answers so far, it's been helpful already!


Oh ok. You want the straight up word of god on how to live your life the best without a lot of the extra mumbo jumbo? I got 3 books for ya:

Romans
Ephesians
Matthew

Read these three, especially romans. And your brain will be amazed with the upmost of righteousness and goodness.

Runners up- 1 corinthians, acts, John, james (james is good for hard times). Proverbs.
#10toxicpie(Topic Creator)Posted 7/3/2013 3:50:01 PM
Polish_Crusader posted...
toxicpie posted...
What do I want to get out of it? Definately to understand more about my own religion and what my holy book teaches. Sorry if this wasn't clear enough, I should've worded it better.

So, I guess NT religiously, and OT for more of a background and yes, some history, but the religious side is more important to me, I suppose. Does that make sense?
Thanks to all answers so far, it's been helpful already!


Oh ok. You want the straight up word of god on how to live your life the best without a lot of the extra mumbo jumbo? I got 3 books for ya:

Romans
Ephesians
Matthew

Read these three, especially romans. And your brain will be amazed with the upmost of righteousness and goodness.

Runners up- 1 corinthians, acts, John, james (james is good for hard times). Proverbs.


Hey thanks! :D And then read all the extra mumbo jumbo after that for history and stuffs? I'll definitely take on everybody else's advice when I've finished those! That Yale study looks very interesting, I'll look into that further.
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Psalm 27:1