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Feb 22, 2022 287 Father Joseph Gill, USA
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Q&A: How Do I Read the Bible?

Question: I want to start reading the Bible, but I don’t know where to start. Do I read it straight through, like a novel? Should I just open to a random page and start reading? What do you recommend?

Answer: The Bible is such a powerful place to encounter Jesus! As Saint Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” So, you are to be commended for wanting to make it part of your spiritual life!

At first glance, the Bible can seem unwieldy, full of disjointed stories, long genealogies, laws and prophesies, poetry and songs, etc. I recommend two ways of reading the Bible. First, don’t read the Bible from beginning to end, because some books are tough to plow through! Instead, use Dr. Jeff Cavins “The Great Adventure Bible Timeline” to read your way through the overarching story of Salvation History—the story of how God worked throughout human history, starting with Creation, to save us from our sins. God created the world good, but human beings fell through original sin and brought evil into the world. But God did not abandon us. Instead, he formed relationships with us, called covenants, through with Abraham, Moses, and David. He taught us how to follow Him through the Law, and called us back to faithfulness to His promises through the prophets. Finally, God sent his son, Jesus, as the definitive solution to the human brokenness, pain, and anguish caused by sin. Through His life, death, and Resurrection, Jesus reconciled us to God once and for all, and established His Church to bring that salvation to the ends of the earth.

The Bible tells this amazing story of Salvation History in various parts of various books. Dr. Cavins’ Timeline guides you through the books and chapters you should read to grasp the entire story, from Adam to Jesus.

Another great way to read the Bible is called lectio divina. This “sacred reading” approach invites you to take a small passage and let God speak to you through it. It may be best to start with a passage from the Gospels or from the letters of Saint Paul—maybe 10-20 verses. The process of Lectio Divina involves four steps: 

Lectio (Reading): First, pray to the Holy Spirit. Then, read the passage through once slowly (out-loud, if you can). Focus on any word, phrase, or image that stands out to you.

Meditatio (Meditation): Read the passage a second time, and ask how God is communicating to you through the word, phrase or image that stood out. In what way does it apply to your life?

Oratio (Prayer): Read the passage a third time, and speak to God about the word, phrase, or image that struck you. What does it reveal about God? Is He asking you to change in response to His word? Make a resolution to be more faithful to Him.

Contemplatio (Contemplation): Sit quietly in God’s presence. Pay attention to any words, images, or memories that may surface in your thoughts—this is how God communicates in silence.

Use this method on a daily basis to work your way through a gospel or Pauline letter. You will find that God will give you insights and wisdom you never thought you could have. May God bless your efforts to know Him through His Word! Whether you are reading it to understand Salvation History and how God has worked in the past or praying with Scripture through Lectio Divina to know how God is working in the present, the Word of God is living and effective, and it can change your life!

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Father Joseph Gill

Father Joseph Gill is a high school chaplain and serves in parish ministry. He is a graduate from Franciscan University of Steubenville and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. Father Gill has published several albums of Christian rock music (available on iTunes). His debut novel, “Days of Grace” is available on amazon.com.

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