For centuries, millions of people have looked for answers to life's most difficult questions in an ancient sacred text—the Bible. It's become the best-selling book in the world. Although most of us own one, we often find it hard to read. We know that somewhere within its pages are words from God that could help us understand him, ourselves, and everything else. But finding the right words when we need them can be a daunting task. We offer this guide as a beginning of one of the greatest adventures we'll ever have.
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The books that make up the Bible were written over a period of about 1500 years. The last book was completed about 1900 years ago. The different parts of the Bible were originally written in one of three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek. Since then, it's been translated into many different languages. English Bibles are available in just about every reading level and style. You may end up with more than one translation (it helps sometimes to compare), but it is important to begin with a translation that you can read and understand. For help picking out a translations, read About Bible Translations.
Some Bible Basics
As you read the Bible, you'll notice that it is divided into chapters and verses. These divisions were added to help readers locate a specific passage more easily. You'll also notice that the Bible is divided into two major parts—the Old Testament (also known as the Hebrew Bible) and the New Testament. The Old Testament books are the first section of the Christian Bible. The second section—the New Testament—records the story of the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus, as well as the history and teachings of the early Christian church. The Bible is a compilation of books written by a number of different people for different reasons.
Take It Personally
To fully appreciate the Bible, what you read must become relevant in your life. After you read a passage, pause for a moment and ask three simple questions:
Observation: What is this passage about?
Interpretation: What does it mean?
Application: How does it apply to my life?
If you find it difficult to see the relevance to your life, there are editions of the Bible designed to help you (like the Life Application Study Bible or the Quest Study Bible). Research was done to find the most common questions people have at different stages of life. Bible scholars took these questions and linked them to passages in the Bible that give relevant answers.
Take Your Time
Let's face it, the Bible is a big book—often over 1,000 pages long. People who plan to read through the whole Bible start with Genesis and often get bogged down somewhere in Numbers. There are editions or the Bible designed to take you through the Bible on a regular basis (often in one year—or on your own schedule). Take a look at our selection of Daily Reading Bibles to help you work through the Bible.
Don't Go It Alone
After reading the Bible you may find certain passages that seem to have several layers of meaning. This is one reason the Bible can be read over and over again with new insights at each reading. If you have not already done so, you will benefit by finding a church or Bible study group to help you find answers for your questions and discuss how the Bible applies to your life today. Check out our resources for Bible studies for groups and individuals.
Bible Reference Books
There are hundreds of helpful Bible reference books to choose from. Here's a list of five types of books we think will help you in your personal study.
- A Bible Handbook is a companion to Bible reading. It's arranged in the order of the books of the Bible, and provides an overview and background before you read through a Bible book, commentary and illustrations as you read, and topical and historical notes to expand your understanding.
- A Concordance lists common words found in the Bible and shows the placeswhere they occur. For example, under the entry faith you'd find the locations inthe Bible where the word faith is used. A Concordance enables you to do word studies as well as locate verses you vaguely remember. Many Bibles contain a concordance.
- A Study Bible contains additional information to help you understand the meaning and background of text as you read.
- A Bible Dictionary gives more detailed information about people, places, words, and events in the Bible. You could use it to learn more about what the Bible says about children, or about Peter, or Egypt, or miracles.
- A Bible Commentary is a single or multi-volume work that explains the meaning of Bible passages.
At Christianbook.com, our goal is to make available to you the Bibles, reference works, study aids you need—all at affordable low prices—as well as the information you need to help you choose the right resources for your needs.
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