"The Bible is the record of God's dealings with his world. Jesus is the key to making sense of the Bible. It all leads up to Him. For this reason it has sometimes been described as 'the book with the answers in the back.'
If you are trying to read the Bible for the first time, it is best to start with the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which tell us about Jesus."
The Bible is the world’s number one best seller by some margin, and has been for centuries.
Written over about 1000 years, on three continents by many authors, the Bible climaxes in the story of Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus is the key to making sense of the Bible. For this reason it has sometimes been described as ‘the book with the answers in the back.’
So starting from chapter one of Genesis, (the first book of the Bible) and working through to the end is not really recommended as it takes so long to get to anything about the life of Jesus. Much better to start with the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, in the New Testament.
The Bible says of itself that it is ‘inspired by God’. This means that it is the record of God’s dealings with his world. Starting with the Jewish scriptures (the Old Testament) then moving on to the fulfilment of the promise of the Old Testament in the birth of Jesus, (The New Testament) the Bible’s claim to be inspired (literally God breathed) means that these are the writings that have been judged to be a reliable and insightful record of what God has done, and is doing. It is this ‘inspiration’ from God that gives a remarkable coherence and unity to a collection of books with one of the most diverse authorships and backgrounds imaginable.
For articles about the Bible, and for numerous translations of the Bible (in English and other languages) go to: www.biblegateway.com
For a one volume help in understanding the Bible and its background, try: The Lion Handbook to The Bible (Lion Hudson, 2009)
For a paraphrase of The Bible, of which the writer says ‘This book is for people who don’t read the Bible. I have tried to imagine how the New Testament authors might have written had they been alive today’ see ‘Who?’ Paul Langham (Bible Society 2012)
Various translations of the Bible are available from online and local bookshops. BibleGateway (above) has a guide to the various translations. Among popular versions today are The New International Version (NIV), The Good News Translation (sometimes called Todays English Version (TEV), written with a limited vocabulary, originally for those for whom English is a second language, and The Message, a vivid paraphrase (rather than a word for word translation) in modern language and idiom.