If you didn’t grow up with Sunday school, CCD, or any rigorous theological education, you might feel as if the opportunity to read the Bible has come and gone, a rite of passage that you missed. Not only is it never too late to read the Bible, but reading it in adulthood by your own volition could mean more to you than if you were doing so as a mere requirement. Nevertheless, even as an adult, approaching the Bible can be daunting. Before you begin, take these tips for reading the Bible for the first time.
Don’t Read Cover To Cover
When you sit down with a new novel, you wouldn’t think to approach it any other way but to read straight through, beginning to end. This good intention is what so commonly derails new readers. The first five books of the Old Testament contain some of the most important stories and lessons of the Bible. However, they also include what readers jokingly call “the begats”: the long and comprehensive genealogies that feel more like information dumps than the stories and principles that shaped our world.
Even many people who haven’t read the Bible yet know about the book of Leviticus and its controversial—and sometimes contradictory—list of precepts and interdictions that feel entirely irrelevant today. Don’t let the book’s archaic bans on blended fabrics and real estate transactions dissuade you from continuing your Bible study. Remember that the Bible is not a book but an anthology of books, and while you should certainly make a point of reading Genesis, you should look for books that have themes that are important to you and fan out from there.
Tell the Factual From the Figurative
Some of us have a nasty habit of using the word “literally” to mean things that are anything but literal. This tendency seems like a recent development in usage, but in truth, there really is nothing new under the sun. The Bible is full of historical accounts of the ancient Middle East, but it also contains many stories that act as lessons or allegories. If you’re confused about whether a colorful story is factual or merely illustrative of a great theme, you may find it useful to consult with more seasoned Bible readers.
Consider a Study Bible
With 80 books in one volume, the King James Bible is an imposing tome. As one might say before an expedition, it’s dangerous to go alone. Though you may know not to necessarily begin on page one, you still may not know exactly where to start when reading the Bible for the first time. By beginning your Bible study with a study Bible, you can glean a better idea of which themes, lessons, and stories to explore. As a full-fledged KJV Bible store, we offer both the original 1611 edition of the King James Bible and study Bibles that will help first-time readers derive meaning and joy from the Word.