Introduction to the Bible

Where should someone who has never looked at the Bible start?

First, a copy of the Bible is needed! English Bible translations I would suggest include: New King James Version (NKJV), New International Version (NIV) and the Good News Bible. The NKJV and NIV stick more closely to a literal translation in today’s English, while the Good News Bible takes some more interpretive liberty to put things into modern concepts and examples – a “paraphrase”.  The 400 year old King James Version (KJV) is considered “classic” but is not so easy to understand.

When someone reads the Bible for the first time, I suggest starting with some highlights rather then reading straight through the whole thing. There’s typically over 1,000 pages in a Bible. It took me a few years before I read it right through for the first time. It is dense conceptually, too. There’s always something new that I pick up going back over some part of it (which I do every day).

There are 66 books of the Bible, each divided into chapters and verses. Some highlight books and chapters that I think are worth prioritising:

Books:

  • The four gospels that tell the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and teachings: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, my favourite being John. Mark is the most concise.
  • Genesis – tells the story of Creation, origin of evil, and some ‘classic’ Bible stories (Noah, Abraham, birth of Israelite nation, Joseph in Egypt, etc)
  • Acts – tells the story of the early Christian church (fast-paced, lots of interesting stories with some principles of Christianity)
  • Proverbs – lots of short & sharp pieces of ‘wisdom’ (or advice)
  • Romans – explains the Christian gospel with a lot of key principles of Christianity
  • Daniel and Revelation – these are quite a bit more advanced (needing understanding of whole Bible context & themes, as well as history) but they are the key prophetic books of the Bible that describe current world events

Specific chapters:

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