Yesterday, I looked at some of the major translations of the Bible, and the difference between Catholic and Protestant versions. Now that Ray has his Bible, he wants to actually read it. Should he start "In the beginning..." with the book of Genesis?
|From a 13th Century Bible, |
King David (lower image) singing
a Psalm about Christ (above).
Walters Museum of Art
Image used under the Creative
By beginning with the fulfillment (and not with the promises), you will have insights that will help you when you do get to some of the more ancient passages--the parts of the Bible that presume a late Stone Age/Early Bronze Age lifestyle. Instead of getting lost in the details somewhere around the book of Leviticus, you will realize that some of those primitive codes were the moral equivalent of training wheels, habituating people to a life of increasing uprightness and spirituality until the time when they would be ready to go forward on just two wheels: Love of God and love of neighbor. You'll recognize certain key figures (such as Melchizedek, Moses, Joshua, King David) as pointing ahead to Jesus himself, and other important events and customs (Noah's Ark, Passover, manna) as placeholders that would be fulfilled in the sacraments.
If you're up for daily Bible reading, I suggest starting out the easy way: with a missal or missalette (or Mass app like iMissal or iBreviary), using the Mass readings as your Scripture for the day. In three years, you will have covered the most important parts of every book of the Bible, including just about the whole New Testament. The great advantages of this approach are that you get an overall familiarity with the Word of God; you see the way the different books of the Bible work together; and you are actually in a kind of spiritual communion with the entire Catholic Church (and the Protestant churches that follow the same "Common Lectionary"). You will also be introduced to the Book of Psalms not as a book to be read, but as a prayerbook--and used as a prayerbook, since a Psalm almost always follows the first reading as our way of praying over the Word of God in the words God gave us for prayer.
No matter which approach you take, you'll discover what the early Church figured out: The New Testament lies hidden in the Old, and the meaning of the Old Testament is revealed in the New! You'll grasp the "unity" of the Bible, all centered on Jesus.
For more on reading the Bible as a Catholic:
Father Felix Just's suggestions for reading the Bible (he puts the Mass readings approach first!)
Deeper insights into the Bible and its place in the Catholic faith from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.