When Johannes Gutenberg selected the Bible as the first major book to be printed on his new printing press, he could have scarcely imagined just how appropriate that choice would be. Five centuries later, the Bible is now the best-selling book of all time. No other book even comes close.
Parts of the Bible have been translated into 2479 different languages or dialects, accounting for more than 90 per cent of the world’s population. Including all these translations, there have been over 2.5 billion copies of the Bible distributed. Some estimates reach as high as 6 billion copies, with an additional 168,000 distributed every day. By comparison, no other book has surpassed one billion copies.
Yet for all its popularity, many people are intimidated by the thought of reading the Bible. They are unsure of where to begin, how to proceed, and if they will even understand what they are reading. So with that in mind, here are five suggestions to help you get started.
1. Choose a version you can understand. The most popular translation of the Bible is the King James Version. Using beautifully elegant language, the King James Version is reminiscent of Shakespeare. Which is fitting, since Shakespeare was alive when it was first published in 1611. And for some people, the language of the King James Version is captivating and inspiring.
Others, though, find it difficult to understand. And they quickly become frustrated and give up. So if you are going to read the Bible, you may want to choose a newer translation such as the New International Version, the Contemporary English Version, or the New Living Translation. You could also consider a paraphrase such as The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.
To compare the available translations, visit your local Christian bookstore and ask for assistance. Or do the research yourself online.
2. Start with a section you can understand. Though often treated as a single book, the Bible is actually a collection of 66 different books compiled into one volume. These books were written by 40 different authors, each with their own purpose and style. The books include narratives, histories, poetry, prophecy, proverbs, biographies, and letters. As such, the Bible is not a traditional book that you read from cover to cover.
You will find some of the books are more readable than others. For example, you may find the biographies of Jesus to be intriguing but have a difficult time wading through the genealogies of the Old Testament. For most people, the Gospel of Mark is a good place to begin. It is a fast-paced book about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
3. Read for application, not just information. Do not become satisfied with using the Bible simply as reading material; it has the power to change lives. So ask yourself what the author is really saying, what the passage means for you personally, and how you can apply it to your life today.
As you read, you may find it helpful to use a pen to underline selected verses. Or record any new insights, questions or feelings in a journal. This will help you internalize what you are learning, making it easier to apply to your life.
4. Go slow. You do not need to get through it in record time. It is more important that you understand and apply what you are reading. Consider reading through the Bible in the span of one year. (There are several one year reading plans available online.) But if that is too aggressive, then feel free to go at a slower pace. It is better to make slow progress than to become discouraged and give up completely.
5. Before you read, pray. After all, you are reading the “Word of God.” So you may as well invite Him into the process. Ask Him to help you understand what you are reading. Pray that He will show you ways to put His Word into practice. Invite Him to reveal Himself to you as you read.
If prayer is new for you, then keep it simple and use your own words. God is not going to judge you on your eloquence.
These suggestions will help you as you begin to discover the richness of the Bible. As you progress, you may want to supplement your reading with other resources. By taking advantage of the vast array of Bible commentaries, study guides, timelines, charts, maps, and Bible handbooks you will discover how the Bible can widen and deepen with every passing year.
 Source: New Zealand Bible Society, biblesociety.org.nz/global-news/scripture-now-in-2479-languages
 Source: United Bible Societies, ubs-translations.org/about_us/#c165
 Source: BusinessWeek.com/innovate/content/jul2005/di20050721_060250.htm
 Source: ChristianAnswers.net/bible/about.html
 The Qur’an and Quotations from Chairman Mao each have between 800,000 and 900,000 copies
(Article by Greg Hanson)
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