So, you have decided to read the Bible, you go to the bookstore or visit Amazon and you are faced with a menagerie of choices! Which one is for you?
What does the Bible consist of?
The Bible comprises of the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament, comprising 39 books, details the beginning of man and tells the story of the Israelites from their formation until approximately 500 years before the birth of Jesus. This was originally written in the Hebrew language. The New Testament, comprising of 27 books continues the story of God’s plan and in many ways fulfils the promises of the Old Testament. These books introduce us to Jesus, his life, death and resurrection, and the work of his disciples. This was originally written in Ancient Greek.
How was the Bible was formed?
The New Testament was written over approximately 40-50 years by various people in various places and therefore it took years to be bound together into one unit. During this time there were many false witnesses to the Word of God, those that would assume the name of a disciple or prophet. Councils were therefore set up to protect the Scripture and to discern the true from the false. Three characteristics were deemed necessary in order for a piece of writing to be declared part of the Holy Bible, these were: They must belong to a prophet, an apostle or one who had a special relationship to such, the witness of the Spirit must be clear in the writing and there must be an acceptance of the people of God i.e. those of Jesus’ disciples who were blessed with the Holy Spirit must accept them, for example, Jesus’ disciple Peter accepted the writings of Paul, 2 Peter 3:15,16. By 400AD the canon we know as the New Testament was confirmed.
Which translation should I choose?
For a first-time reader of the Bible some translations can seem intimidating such as the King James Version which was published in the 17th century and hence the wording can be a little tricky to understand. For a first timer I would suggest the Good News Bible. It is written in a format which is very readable. There are also versions of the Bible which are written without chapters and headings and this can also be a good choice to begin with. In fact, this is more relatable to the original texts as the chapters and verses were only added in the 16th century! The New International Version is widely used amongst churches and universities.
Which Type of Bible should I choose?
You will also find various types of translations such as Study Bibles, Reference Bibles, Journaling Bibles and Audio Bibles. Perhaps while travelling to work pop on a CD and learn Scripture on your way to the office! There is an extremely popular audio Bible which is read by David Suchet. Study and Reference Bibles include a description of the text i.e. it may explain the original meaning of the words as in the ancient Greek and Hebrew languages one word could take on a variety of meanings so in our translation we can sometimes miss the full effect of the writings. These Bibles may be a little distracting for a first time read but if you are desperate to really get to grips with Scripture then why not give it a try! For the creatives out there and those who find the written word hard to understand or get to grips with I would strongly suggest a journaling Bible. These have lines or a blank section to the side of the page which can be used for notes or pictures/paintings etc. Why not read a few verses of Scripture and get to work with a design that encapsulates what you have learnt, this can be a fantastic way to spent time getting to know God and really getting to grips with His word.
Lastly, as many people of you would rather use technology to read, you will find the same choice of Bibles for kindle or another fantastic way of reading the Bible is through the various apps you will find. I would suggest Bible in One Year by Alpha Int. However, You Version is another fantastic resource with lots of different study guides and advice for newbie children of God.
Just have a look what is out there, find the best fit for you and enjoy getting to know Jesus!
Happy Reading and please get in touch for any further advice.
Love and Blessings