International Day of the Bible 2017 – Reading Tips
Today, Sunday, Nov. 12th, is the International Day of the Bible – a worldwide public celebration of the Word of God. This celebration is facilitated by InternationalDayoftheBible.com. They’re prayer is to join them in reading the Bible at 12:00 pm (noon local time) and to post on social media use the hashtag #BibleCelebration. To help with this celebration, here are some Bible reading tips.
1. Read prayerfully.
Always pray before reading, asking God to lead and guide your through His Word and to open up your understanding. Not to read into Scripture or to read between the lines, but to understand the clear meaning of the text.
2. Use a Bible without distractions.
Read a text edition without chapter and verse numbers. Chapter and verse numbers dice up thoughts into smaller pieces. Chapter and verse numbers were added to help in using tools such as concordances. We don’t need them for reading, and they actually get in the way. Even footnotes and section headings can be a distraction. I recommend a Reader’s Edition. If you’re reading the Bible digitally be sure to use an app with features to disable distractions or the Bible as an e-book made for reading.
3. Read the Bible in large chunks.
Reading in large chunks can help you see the overall context. Chapter numbers create unnatural break points which can keep us from seeing the context if we stop at the end of a chapter. I prefer to keep reading. I recommend reading entire books at a time if possible as it helps you see the key structure of the book and its literary forms. When you need to stop, read until you come to a natural break in the context such as a change of location.
4. Pay attention to setting.
Pay attention to the book’s purpose, original audience, culture, etc. Ask who the writer was, why they wrote, who they wrote to, about the circumstances of writing, etc. This will help in application.
5. Pay attention to literary style.
The Bible was written in multiple genres. Knowing the genre will help us better understand the text. As you read, ask if the literary style is poetic, wisdom, historical, prophetic, etc. This will also help in application.
6. Read multiple translations.
I sometimes read the same book multiple times with a different translation each time. Multiple translations can help with understanding the setting and context. This is especially helpful if your primary translation uses words that have changed meaning or if a phrase can be translated in multiple ways as words have a range of meanings.
7. Read with others.
One of my favorite ways to read God’s Word is aloud with my family. There are four of us, so we divide our reading plan by four and each person reads one of the four readings aloud while the rest follows along. We do this every night.
8. Look up words you don’t understand.
It’s easy to read on by a word that we don’t know, and sometimes make the assumption that we do know, or sometimes guess at its meaning and keep on going. I don’t like to stop reading and start looking up words every time I read, but I do like to read through a book (maybe the second time through) with the idea that I’m going to look up words. This helps in understanding the context. If I’m reading a KJV I like to browse through a glossary (like those in the TBS or Cambridge editions) because sometimes I think I know the definition of a word but then discover that it changed meaning (which can change the context – describe and prevent are good examples).
9. Look up places on maps.
I like to read through a book before I start looking up places, but on the second time through I like to take more time and look up locations on good quality Bible maps. This helps me visualize where events occurred and their relationship to other events.
10. Realize the need for God’s Word in your life.
We are to read the Bible for ourselves. Don’t just rely on someone else to tell you what it says and what to believe about it. Read it for yourself, allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture, and use proper interpretation and application. Make reading the Bible a priority.
11. Realize the need for God’s Word in our culture.
Many today believe the Bible is no longer relevant to our society. However, the Bible defines our moral code. Without the Bible we have no moral standard. Morals then would be based on majority opinion. That’s not a society we want to live in. Let God’s Word change you and let others see that change. Show them the Bible is important to you as you live by example.
Here’s more information about the International Day of the Bible:
We want to hear from you! Are you celebrating (or did you celebrate) the International Day of the Bible? Do you have any reading tips to add? Let us know in the comments below.
The featured image is the NIV Sola Scriptura 4-volume set from Zondervan.