The Bible is not a book; it is a library of books that blend to form the world’s greatest story. According to Wikipedia, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time having sold 5Billion copies; approximately 100M copies annually.
The Bible is largely divided into two areas; Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament has 39 books from Genesis to Malachi. The New Testament has 27 books from Mathew to Revelation. All through from Genesis to Revelation; the Bible can be seen as a moving book. Through it, Christians can trace the genealogy of the human race, the Jewish nation and the early church in the Old Testament. The theme of salvation is achieved in the New Testament through Jesus Christ, His death marking the climax of the story.
The Bible encompasses different literary styles; Biographies, Historical narratives (Joshua, Esther, the Gospels etc), Paul’s epistles, Family trees (Israelites), Songs and Prayers, breath-taking prose, and enchanting Poetry (Psalms, Song of Songs’ romanticism, Lamentations etc.), Law (Exodus, Leviticus etc.) Prophecy (Daniel, Revelation).
The Bible transcends a mere work of art or history or even great literature. The non-believer problem would be; How do we believe a story we cannot counter-check? That the writers were ‘inspired’ seems too far-fetched to them; and to add that they were ‘unseen’ is yet another battle front.
It is therefore important to understand the Bible characters, get implanted in the setting and closely follow the plot. Allow yourself to live in the BC’s; to travel through the wilderness, through the land of Canaan, Jerusalem; walk with Jesus through Galilee. You cannot miss Jerusalem, the epicentre. Of note is that women occupied a very low status during this period.
The Bible has been translated into many languages across the world and as such may not essentially capture the original meaning of the Hebrew and Greek texts owing to the different cultural and historical context which may have been inaccessible to the translators. Translators have, however, aimed at availing the text in a simple, clear and unambiguous manner through the ages.
Reading through the Bible, I like to spend time with Jesus, Esther, Elijah, Joseph, Moses, Job, Ruth, King Solomon, Hannah, Abigail. When these great men and women speak, you can only listen. Pharisees, well, are simply hilarious.
Spend time with this book, delve deep into the words therein, mull over it, meditate and open your ears to God’s word and make sense of your life.
The themes therein include Creation, sin, death, Christianity, faith, idolatry, marriage and divorce, redemption, among a million others.
In the business of book publishing, it is paramount to minimise if not nil the number of errors in a text. This is, however, not always viable but The Bible is as clean as an ideal written text can be!
The conflict in this story is too complex to be solved by a human mind; least of all mine.
How to Read The Bible
Just like any book, it is impossible to understand the conflict and climax before one sets out to understand the origin of the story. It might be missing the whole point by reading the Bible in a clean sweep.
Of importance is that we read the Bible as was intended; not as we would like it to read. Just like the Bible was written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, one needs to seek the Holy Spirit to correctly interpret the word.
Granted, it is not an all easy read; some passages and books can be a little too complex for the human mind to decipher but if you are truly committed to studying the word of God; it will guide you through.
You don’t just read the Bible; you study it.
In reading, you could use the following as a guide:
1. Read the Bible every day. I’ve seen people carry the Bible to work, reading it in parks, in matatus etc. Wherever convenient for you. What with the e – Bibles?
Sometimes, you can also discover something in reading randomly; when I am random, Ecclesiastes or Paul’s letters on Christian living works for me. How about you?
2. Journal; take notes as you read. Is there a verse that strikes you? Write it down. How does the verse or chapter you are reading resonate with you?
3. Join a Bible study group. Need I mention WhatsApp?
4. Draft a reading plan– if you wade through, you might not get a deeper understanding or just understanding at all. Set the time; if it gets mechanical, draft another plan. But like all serious things, you need discipline to study The Bible.
5. Understand what you are reading in context, meaning and role: History, law, songs, prophecy, letters cannot all be read the same way. Messages of rebuke and encouragement cannot be read the same way.
*Feel free to share your tips.
Favourite Bible verses:
Ecclesiastes 2: 26: To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God…
James 4: 2-3 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Romans 8: 39: …there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ecclesiastes 12: 13: After all these, there is only one thing to say: have reverence for God, and obey his commands, because this is all that human beings were created for.
What are yours?