Do you want a New Year’s resolution that will really benefit your life?
You can read the bestselling book of all time, one that changes the life of everyone who reads it: the Holy Bible.
Pope Francis has declared Jan. 26 as the “Word of God Sunday,” a Sunday in which we as a Catholic Church can reflect on the beauty of sacred scripture.
When was the last time that you picked up the Bible and read it for the sake of reading it? We know the story; we hear selections of it at Mass. But when was the last time that you read Scriptures just as a story?
Have you ever read the Bible cover to cover, from Genesis to Revelation? It is a wonderful experience that can help us get to know the story of salvation history.
Here are some suggestions on how to read the Bible.
First, get a good Catholic Bible. It’s important to realize that if we read the Bible in English, Spanish, Polish or any modern language, it’s a translation from the ancient languages. Let’s focus for the moment on getting a good Bible in English. You want to get one that is translated into proper, contemporary English from the original Biblical languages: Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek.
In addition, you want to get a Catholic, not a Protestant, Bible. A Protestant Bible has only 39 books in the Old Testament, while Catholic Bibles have 46.
We as Catholics add in what is called the Deuterocanonical books, which include Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach and Baruch as well as sections in the Books of Esther and Daniel that are not found in most Protestant Bibles. You may not want to use that Gideon Bible from the hotel room, because it is missing some of what we consider to be the inspired Word of God.
To begin reading the Bible, perhaps you should get a copy of the Ignatius Bible: Revised Standard Version — Second Catholic Edition (Ignatius Press, 2005). This Bible is a jewel to be treasured. This edition was revised according to norms set forth in Liturgiam Authenticam (2002).
The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament (Ignatius Press, 2010) has some excellent notes by famous Catholic scholars Dr. Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch.
Another good translation with good notes is the New American Bible, which is available, notes and all, online on the U.S. Bishops’ Conference’s website:
usccb.org/bible/books-of-the-bible. There are, of course, other good modern English, Catholic versions of the Bible around as well, like the New Jerusalem Bible, among others.
Now that you have a good Catholic version of the Bible in English, what should you do? Well, begin reading it. We know that it sounds simple, but many things in life are that simple. Make a plan — perhaps a chapter a day, beginning with the first book of the Old Testament, Genesis.
There’s plenty of other advice on what to do and how to do it and how much to read available online, but it’s really up to you.
We suggest just diving into reading sacred scriptures and do as much as you want each day; our only caveat: just be sure to do it, even if it is only for five or 10 minutes a day.