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Joe Paprocki Answers:
Usually, we read a book by starting on page one and continuing through to the last page. Makes sense, right? Although we may be tempted to read the Bible in the same way, that’s not necessarily the best approach to reading the Bible. Why? Because the Bible is no ordinary book. In fact, it’s not a book at all…it is a collection of books: 73 in all! Think of the Bible as a library. It even has various sections to explore. In the Old Testament we have:
• the Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy),
• a History section (Joshua – 2Maccabees),
• a Wisdom section (Job – Sirach),
• and the Prophets (Isaiah – Malachi).
Likewise, in the New Testament, we have 4 “sections”:
• the Gospels (Matthew – John),
• the Acts of the Apostles,
• the Letters (Romans – Jude)
• and the Book of Revelation.
The best way to read the Bible is to explore a section at a time. In the Old Testament, start with the Exodus story (in the Book of Exodus, of course) which is the defining moment of the relationship between God and the people of Israel. In the New Testament, start with either the Gospel of Mark (it’s the shortest and easiest to read) or the Acts of the Apostles (their story is most similar to our experience). Allow yourself the freedom to move about freely throughout the Bible, getting a sense of these various sections and becoming familiar with the story of salvation. Another good approach, if you like to read things that follow a chronology, is Jeff Cavins’ notion of reading the “narrative thread” of the story of salvation. This is done by reading the following 14 books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 Maccabees, Luke, Acts. This approach helps you to become familiar with the story of salvation that is the foundation of everything else we encounter in Scripture.