How Do I Start Reading the Bible?

I meet tens of thousands of people a year at different events. Most of them are Catholic Christians who want to start reading the Bible but don’t know where to start.

So if you’ve ever wanted to go deeper into God’s Word but haven’t known how to approach it, allow me to suggest a few tips (so you can learn from my mistakes).

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Like anything else, if you want to build something … in this case, your knowledge and love for the Scriptures … you don’t just grab a hammer and some nails and start pounding. To ensure that you don’t just jump in and then quit out of frustration or confusion, there are certain things you can do to be more successful.

We’ll attack this on three levels … the tools, the blueprint and the construction. These three levels will be broken into a series of three blog posts. By the end you’ll have ten total steps to help you build a biblical fortress able to resist anything the devil can throw at you.

THE TOOLS

Let’s start with three things you should do before you start studying.

1. Pick a time, but not just any time. Commit to a daily time that you’ll open God’s Word but be sure it’s an intelligent time. If you’re really tired, for example, than reading the Bible once you’re in bed probably isn’t the best time. Pick a time when you’re totally awake so you can give your full attention.

2. Pick a Bible that you can understand. Get yourself a good Catholic Bible (that way you have all 73 books), but if you don’t have one right now, that shouldn’t keep you from reading. The best translation today is the one that you already have. It’s important that your Bible is comfortable to read, light enough to take with you, durable enough to really use, and inexpensive enough that you don’t feel bad writing or marking in it. If you haven’t seen it … I highly recommend the Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition for personal study, it’s great. You might also want to have a copy of the New American Bible, which is the translation we hear at daily Mass and on Sundays (NAB). Just remember, your Bible is like a telescope – it’s not meant to be looked at but, rather, looked through.

3. Have other books that help you understand the BOOK. There are some great resources out there designed to help you understand the Bible better. There’s a myriad of solid Catholic ancillary materials and resources to help you – like those available through Ascension Press and from other fine Catholic publishers. It’s also great to have The Catechism of the Catholic Church handy, so you can use it as you study.

Check back here tomorrow for my second post on how to start reading the Bible, where I will discuss “the blueprint.”

Mark Hart

Mark Hart serves as Executive Vice President for Life Teen International. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a twenty-year veteran of youth ministry, Mark is a best-selling and award-winning author (or co-author) of over a dozen books and one of the most sought-after speakers serving in the Catholic Church, today. Mark hosts his own weekly satellite radio show, “Fired Up!”, for The Catholic Channel, Sirius XM 129 and is a Research Fellow for the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. Additionally, his weekly audio podcast (Sunday, Sunday, Sunday) and HD video spots (Beyond Words) are helping youth groups, families and classrooms in over two dozen countries enter more deeply into the Sunday Mass readings. Mark’s humor and his passion for Scripture —as experienced in his DVD Bible Study Series, “T3” and “Encounter” — are helping hundreds of thousands of Catholics, young and old, begin to read and study the Bible in engaging and relevant ways. Mark and his wife, Melanie, and their children live in Phoenix, Arizona.

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  • Avila

    Good tips. I have a Catholic Dictionary to hand, which has certainly opened my eyes to what some of the text really means and put so much in context. For us more mature people, a large text Catholic Bible is helpful. Now to find time when I am not tired.

  • Carla Archuleta

    Mark, I appreciate this particular post and topic. I am curious as to the tips tomorrow will bring. So far I’m hitting the nail right smack center! Such good tips for those starting out. God bless !