Thursday, February 11, 2010

How to read the bible

John Schwarz has a nice little paperback called 'Living Faith: A Guide to the Christian Life.' On p. 21 he has some "helps" in reading the Bible:
  • The Bible should be read with an open mind and with the view and expectation that God will speak to us through his Word. It is said that the Bible is God's "telephone line" to us.
  • The Bible is one continuous story, from Genesis to Revelation. The biblical story of salvation begins with God's call of Abraham and his covenants with Moses and David; it reaches its fulfillment in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
  • The Bible was written several thousand years ago and is, in places, hard to understand. Don't be discouraged. Someone once asked William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, what he did when he came across something in the Bible he did not understand. Booth said, "I do the same thing I do when eating a fish: I put the bones on the side of the plate and get on with the good meat."
  • The Bible should be read in its plain or natural sense, without veering off into extreme literalism. Also, be conscious that the Bible is really a "library," with books of history (Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Acts), prophecy, poetry (like the Psalms), wisdom literature (Proverbs and James) and lots of letters.
  • The Bible is its own commentary. This means that the New Testament interprets the Old Testament. When Jesus "declared all foods clean" in Mark 7:19, he overruled the laws regarding clean and unclean food in Leviticus 11.
So, there ya go. Personally, I would add, get a readable translation - like the New Living Translation, or New International Version, or something. Stay away from the King James Version. Read away, my friends.