How to read the Bible

"When we come to the Bible we are not just reading a story; we are being dealt with by God. In this book we are encountering the living word of a lively God, and our task is not to stand in judgement on it but to stand under its judgement on us. We find however that its judgement is full of mercy for, in fact, this is a glorious love story-the story of a loving God pursuing his wayward people to give them back their birthright, which is life in all its fullness” (John 10: 10). (John Pritchard, Beginning Again, 2000, SPCK). 

There are lots of different ways to read scripture - amybe one of these will be helpful to you :


Bible Readings for upcoming services 

To give us readings from the Bible each Sunday we use the Three-Year Lectionary that is shared across many churches in this country and around the world. It takes us through much of the Bible every three years. Matthew, Mark and Luke take it in turns to be the main gospels for a whole year. John's gospel comes in throughout each of the three years, especially around Easter and Christmas. Each month the relevant readings are featured so that you can look at them in advance of the service, and refer back to them afterwards. That way, these texts can be lived with a little and their power to speak increases. Of course, preachers usually select only a few of these readings, and may abandon them entirely if circumstances require it and other texts become more relevant on the day! 

The Bible as a resource for Christ-like Living 

 Get a good Bible! 

 Getting a good version of the Bible is essential! If you’re happy with the 17th century Authorised Version that’s fine, but most of us simply can’t understand it all. If you want to find a new Bible try a bookshop with a good range. Compare the same passage in each version to get a feel for the style: 
 Check out: 
 Good News Bible(GNB) -easy and readable 
 Today’s New International Version (TNIV) - modern, classic style. Inclusive language) 
The Message - very readable and brand new. 
 A good children’s bible 

You will find examples of these at the information point as well as copies of a gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) in the TNIV format that you can take. 

 Get the background 

 Most modern Bibles have introductions to each book and helpful background stuff. A good general introduction is The Lion Handbook to the Bible. Knowing a little about how the Bible fits together goes a long way to making this big book far less intimidating! Commentaries are always being published on the whole Bible and its individual books. Check them out in the bookshops. Many are written specifically for ordinary church goers! Some bibles have study bible sections which have brief notes on passages that you might also find helpful. 

 Get reading 

Very few of us can start with Genesis and read avidly to Revelation! Bearing in mind that the Bible was written over something like 1,400 years by over 60 writers it may be a good idea to make some choices about what to read, especially if we’ve not read lots of the Bible or not read it for some time. But wherever you read, try to keep coming back to the four Gospels for their vivid portraits of Jesus. Why not read a Gospel right through in one sitting (Mark takes about an hour)? Do the same with one of Paul’s letters. On Sundays we can only ever study a few verses, so enjoy the whole piece. Perhaps we read the Bible in different ways at different times. We may just want to grasp the story. It matters that we know the basic flow of the Bible because that’s our basic picture of Gods activity. We may read to study, exploring how a book was written and teasing out the nuances of each line and word. We may read it to be transformed, allowing a few verses to soak deep into our souls each day to draw us to God and to godly living. 

 How might we read it? 

 We're all different. Some of us will find a daily slot easy to create. Some of us will find other ways. But regular Bible reading matters. This is where we fuel our faith, fund our imaginations and form our discipleship. Christianity without the Bible can only ever be a pale reflection of the riches God is offering us. Here are some ideas for living with the Bible. Some will appeal to us if we love to think a lot about things. Others will appeal if we prefer a more emotional approach. Taste and see! 

 Daily reading notes 

 Excellent and inexpensive (even free!), many notes are published that offer a page for each day with prayer, a Bible passage, reflections on the passage, something to think about and ways to put it into practice. Some now also come as daily emails. Don’t worry if you miss a week or ten, just move on to today’s page and carry on. It isn’t meant to make you feel guilty! A very good introduction to daily notes comes from Nicky Gumbel’s book ‘30 days’ which you can borrow from here at the welcome area. 

 Daily reading without notes 

 Someone else’s Bible notes may make you potty. You can do your own thing of course. A simple process can help. 
Try: 
 • Pray first asking for the Spirits wisdom. 
 • Read - take a whole book or section and work through it steadily at your own pace. Try to cover Old and New Testaments. 
 • Think? What did this passage mean when it was written? What does it mean today? What should I do as a result? You may find it helpful to keep a diary of thoughts. Or writing it down may be the last thing you want to do! 
 • Pray - allowing the passage to influence what you pray. 

 The Benedictine Method 

 Benedict (6th century) refined this method and it can be a wonderful way to really dwell on just a short bit of the Bible. Its also simple! 
 There are just 4 steps: 
 • Read a short passage leisurely and thoughtfully. Reread it several times. Allow one sentence, phrase or word to draw your attention. 
 • Think - turn that phrase over and over in your heart and mind. Repeat it many times. Allow it to touch you and spark your imagination. Imagine what God is saying to you through these words. 
 • Pray - allowing your thinking to turn into a conversation with God. Focus more intentionally upon God and allow God to be part of your conversation. 
 • Live out what God has shared with you. Let what you’ve read become part of how you live. Let the insights and feelings you’ve had flow through your day. Return to them throughout the day and continue to reflect upon how this bit of the Bible is coming alive within and through you. Just as Jesus was God in the flesh, so you become this bit of the Bible in the flesh. 

 The Ignatian Method 

This is about entering imaginatively into the heart of a Bible story. It was developed by Ignatius (16th century) and you’ll find plenty of books about it at the bookshop. It works thus: 
• Choose a passage, say one of the stories about Jesus. 
• Read the story slowly and carefully. Close your eyes, and let the story unfold in your imagination. 
• As it unfolds, imagine that you are there. Use all your senses. What can you see, hear, feel, smell, taste, touch? How are people dressed? What’s the emotional atmosphere? Where are you in relation to the key characters? 
• Let the story continue in your mind. As things are said how do you react? How do people around you react? As action takes place how do you respond to it? All the time keep asking yourself how you feel. Let the story’s action draw you in so that you get caught up within it. 
• Gradually let the story reach its conclusion. Then let yourself simply be still with God. Enjoy the moment and the space. Turn what you’ve experienced into prayerful conversation with God. 

 Bible study in groups 

Here at St Christophers we have bible study groups which can be a great way of living the bible together with others.  
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