Summer is a wonderful time for reading. When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg asked for book suggestions for his new year's resolution of reading a new book every 2 weeks - The Bible came up more than a few times - after all it is really 66 books!
Many people today do not belong to a particular faith community, but still want to try to find a way to visit their spirituality. The Bible definitely fits the bill for “learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories. . . .”
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Start with a map.
The Bible is about a place — one eventually called Israel, but also its surrounding regions; later, the story spreads into parts of the Roman Empire. Google it - check out the satellite view.
All of the stories in the Bible are about people who lived in those particular places long, long ago. Reading their stories without knowing something about their location is like watching a movie with your screen totally dimmed.
2. Don’t read from start to finish — at least not right away.
Well, you can do that if you want. But you might fail to get through many of the 66 “books” that make up the whole Bible. The first two books, Genesis and Exodus, can be engrossing, but then the story grinds down for long stretches. So give yourself permission to hop around, and even to start with the highlights.
3. Read the best stories first.
The Bible has some greatest hits. In just a few minutes, you can read some quick stories that are among the most famous and influential pieces of writing ever. And you’ll soon see why, because these tales tend to knock around in your head long after you’ve read them.
Here are some of the generally accepted favourites, each of which takes between one and five minutes to read:
Jesus and the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11, which is just beautiful);
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-8, which might blow your mind if you’ve never read it);
the first creation story (Genesis 1-2:3, which is best read slowly and out loud);
the Binding of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-14, which is not for the faint of heart);
and the entire, but very brief, Book of Jonah (which is like a dark comedy).
Let us know how you get on or if you have other favourites you'd like to add to this list - use the Message US button found in the header of each page of the Knox website.
Watch this section for more hints.....