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The Busted Halo Question Box
Ask our spiritual experts virtually anything!
This is the place where you can ask all of those burning questions that you wouldn't dare ask in person. We will post questions here (using your byline only with permission); we guarantee an answer to everyone.

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Caitlin Kennell Kim
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Mike Hayes
Our readers asked:

Are there some basic books I should read to help me understand the Bible?

Ann Naffziger Answers:

Before even buying a book about the Bible, the first step is to buy a well-reputed study Bible. The Catholic Study Bible, the New Oxford Annotated Bible, or the Harper Study Bible are excellent Bibles for both prayer and study. The advantage these Bibles have is that they have well-documented footnotes and cross-references, introductory material before each book of the Bible, and they include maps and timelines.

An introduction to the Bible for very beginners is God’s Library: A Catholic Introduction to the World’s Greatest Book by Joe Paprocki. It teaches how to locate certain books in the Bible, how the numbering system and abbreviations work, and how to sort out “fact” from “fiction.” For something more in-depth (approximately at the college introductory level) you might look for An Introduction to the Bible: A Journey into Three Worlds by Hauer and Young.

A comprehensive and renowned commentary that addresses every chapter of every book in the Bible is The Jerome Biblical Commentary by Brown, Fitzmyer and Murphy. The price is hefty, but if you only want to own one book on the Bible, it is an excellent choice.

Beyond these specific suggestions, you might browse the shelves of a local university bookstore to see what the current required reading is for biblical courses.

The Author : Ann Naffziger
Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.
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