Into Thy Word -
HOW TO READ AND ENJOY THE BIBLE
Did you know that the Bible is the most widely read book in the world? The Bible is quoted more often than any other piece of literature in history and has had more influence on our language, culture and laws than any other book or idea ever published. Yet most people seldom, if at all will ever, read the Bible, including Christians! Why? Many people assume that it's too difficult to understand, others are frightened by its size, or they don't think it's relevant in the 21st Century.
So to get over this problem, we designed the Bible reading chart to allow you to go through the Bible at you pace in such a way you will not be bogged down.
Bible Reading Chart
Condensed Bible Reading Chart
You can also try the One Year Bible by Tyndale. Also we recommend you get an easy to read translation to start off with, especially if you have not read the Bible much, or if you are a new Christian, or feel it is too ominous for you. One of the best translations that is easy to read is the New Living Translation, you will find it on our home page.
Here is a chart to show you the various most popular translations:
About all those different versions, and translations
Remember the Bible was written in Hebrew for most of the Old Testament, and Greek for the New Testament. So there are always many ways to translate a different language.
The main Bible Translations:
KJV: The Kings James is over 400 years old and the language means and reads different than what we are used to, so unless you are an English Lit major working on your Ph.D., then read it for its beauty and not for study. You can observe this yourself by watching old TV shows from the 50s and listen how they used language and compare it to now. Big difference, hence why kids today laugh at those shows differently than the original intention was. Now a translation from the 50s would be hard to understand, so what of 400 years past?
NKJV: The New King James Version (1982), This is an excellent translation and very readable. We highly recommend this one to study and worship with!
NASB: New American Standard Bible (1960), an excellent translation for serious study word for word translation, which translates each word from the original language into the best corresponding English equivalent. However it is wooden and hard to read. It is a favorite among conservative evangelicals.
NIV: New International Version (1973), a very readable Bible, it is a cross between a word for word translation and a Dynamic translation which brings additional words into the text to make the point of the original language. This is often necessary because when you translate any language, you cannot always do it word for word and convey the original thought from the speaker or author. This version has some of the finest American scholarships. Make this Bible your best friend!
RSV: Revised Standard Version (1952), the standard pew Bible until the NIV. Good translation but word usage will be hard to understand and is dated (i.e. 50s TV show). Words lose and gain different meanings from generation to generation. This translation is two generations removed from us today.
NRSV: New Revised Standard Version (1991), This has very poor and very excellent scholarship, so unless you can determine the difference stay away. This version also reads into the text theological agendas that are not there, stay far away from it!
NAB: New American Bible (1970) this is the best Catholic Bible, excellent scholarship.
NLT: New living Translation (1999) is an excellent cross between a translation and a paraphrase. Make this Bible your second best friend! This is the best translation for daily reading, devotions and for starting out.
JB: Jerusalem Bible (1966) is an English translation of a French translation (Bible de Jerusalem). It is not translated from the original languages! However it is very poetic and beautiful with its use of language, but not so good of a translation. It is great for extra insights and dramatic readings.
NEB: The New English Bible (1961) great English scholarship from the folks who brought us fish and chips, thus is filled with British Idioms, so you may not understand it well, unless you watch a lot of British TV. It is great insightful reading, especially the Psalms, but use only next to a literal translation NASB, NIV or NKJV.
LB: The Living Bible (Translated in 60s Pub in 1971) Great easy reading for reading the Bible like a novel, but far from the literal meaning. Use the updated version; NLT.
GNB. The Good News Bible (1966) is a paraphrase with very good scholarship, makes the Bible easy to read, excellent to get the big picture and alongside a good translation.
Some other good insightful paraphrases are J.B. Philips (1947), Moffit (1900s), The Amplified Bible (1958), The Message (1993), Contemporary English Version(1995) this is great for youth and children or teaching them, or the New Century Version (1987).
And there are hundreds more!
Here is a chart to show approximately how literal they are:
Literal (word for word) / A cross somewhat literal / Dynamic (extra emphasis) / Paraphrase
NASB NKJV NEB NLT LB
RSV NIV NRSV JB CEV Philips
KJV NAB (catholic) GNB Amplified
Americans need to read the Bible. Even more, they need to study it. It is the cornerstone of freedom, the foundation of idealism, and the operandi of living Billy Graham
WHICH BIBLE BOOK SHOULD I READ FIRST?
The size of the Bible can be a little intimidating. Our Bible reading chart breaks up the OT and NT for an easy flow, however this is not the only way. It isn't really necessary to start at the very beginning in order to get the greatest benefit. You may try the TOP 5, start off with either Mark or John, Mark is a short, fast moving account of the life of Jesus, written by a young man who was an eyewitness of many of the things that Jesus did. John was written by one of Jesus' closest followers, giving an intimate look at His life.
After Mark or John, find Ephesians. It's short, only a few pages long. It gives you a glimpse of God's family, the church, and some guidelines for living. Third, go to James, also short, but extremely practical.
Then read Romans, this is a letter written by the early Christian leader, Paul who had more influence than all of the other apostles put together. It's the most powerful line of reasoning and evidence for belief in Jesus Christ in the Bible. It also lays the framework of essential doctrine and Christian thinking.
Then go to the Old Testament. Genesis is the book of beginnings, and has many exciting stories about God's people and how He takes care of them.
There you have the "TOP 5"- Mark or John, Ephesians, James, Romans, and Genesis. (At Into Thy Word, we recommend people start with our Bible reading chart or the top 5. Most people will start off in Genesis and get bogged down in the law and give up. Thus the reason for a well-balanced mix.)
From there, you could go to Acts, which traces the growth of Christianity and the exciting stories of early believers and how they spread the story and teachings of Jesus throughout their world. Then maybe some of the Psalms, which reflect every emotion we humans feel, from depression and loneliness to the joy of knowing God personally. Psalms teaches what it means to worship and love God and to pour out your deepest feelings to Him. Follow this with New Testament books, like Philippians, or I John. Then move to books named after the main characters in their stories - Joshua, Ruth, Nehemiah, Job, Jonah, and others. Read complete books, do not skip around! Save the longer prophetic books and the books relating to the law and so forth until last. You may want to establish a daily reading pattern that includes several Psalms along with other sections. And of course we did the work for you with our Bible reading chart!
Im ready to admit after contemplating the world and human nature for sixty years that I see no way out of the worlds misery but by the way found in Christs will. George Bernard Shaw
© 1984, 2001 R.J. Krejcir