Did you know that the Catholic Church reads the entire Bible to her congregation over the span of three years? Of course we do; Catholics invented the Bible! [Read more…]
The Scriptures are a diverse compilation of writings encompassing a few thousand years of human history. Here are 5 ways to help make the Bible easier for you to understand.
1. Understand what the author intended
The stories in Scripture take place within a particular time and context. The authors faced similar circumstances as our own, but within their own historical context. Many New Testament books (such as the Gospels) were written to specific Christian communities addressing their particular needs.
Find a good resource on the historical context in which the particular book you are reading took place. A good Bible will have some introductory text explaining:
- who did the writing,
- to whom it was written,
- and the situation in which it was written.
2. Be open to the message
Read from the Scriptures, not into the Scriptures. Let God try to communicate to you what he wants you to know. It’s easy to fall into a habit of reading a preconceived notion into a passage to fit our own ideology, but a more fruitful way is to let the Scriptures speak to us.
3. Take time to reflect
Proper understanding comes through allowing yourself some time to think about what you read. Meditate on it. Think of how it might apply to your life. What is God trying to communicate to you through that passage?
Some in-depth questions might be:
- What does this text tell me about God?
- What does this text tell me about the people of God?
- What does this text tell me about myself?
4. Read it more than once
Something as rich and vast as the word of God does not always make sense on the first try. Re-read it as many times as you need to help unfold the various dynamics that might be taking place.
5. Form a Bible study group
Reading the Scriptures in a group allows for a chance to discuss it and hear how God is revealing himself to other people. In fact you might learn how God is revealing himself to you through your discussion with another person!
Good discussion will also allow for chances to reflect and an opportunity for everyone to share if so desired.
Helpful hints & tools
Keeping these things in mind will help you enjoy the Bible in a clearer and concise manner!
Contrary to popular belief the Bible was not written by God whispering into the ears of the human authors to write what he wanted written, but rather the Scriptures are inspired by God. The Holy Spirit guided the authors to be moved in such a way that their writings were of God. [Read more…]
Editor’s note: All Scripture references are from the Gospel of John unless otherwise noted.
The Gospel of John was written after the followers of Jesus had been expelled from the synagogues (AD 85) and continued to be persecuted by the Jewish authorities (Pharisees and scribes). Hence the hostility toward “the Jews.” [Read more…]
Editor’s note: All Scripture references are from the Gospel of Matthew unless other wise noted.
It stood first in the oldest biblical codices probably because of its churchly concerns. It is the only gospel having the the word “church” in it and it appears twice from the lips of Jesus. A Church built on a rock against which the “gates of Hades will not overcome” (16:18 NIV) and a Church that has the power to expel heretics from its midst (18:17). [Read more…]
Saint Paul is more in the spotlight than any other figure in the early Church. Of many others, even the apostles who were closest to Jesus, we know very little. In some cases we know nothing more than their name. This is to some extent true of Jesus who left no writings and whose historical account has been clouded over by the post-Easter faith. [Read more…]
The Catholic New Testament canon is identical to that of the Protestants other than some minor translation differences. Our difference lies in the contents of the Old Testament where we have Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch and additions to Esther and Daniel. These books were called apocryphal by the Protestants and deuterocanonical (Second canon) by the Catholics. This has its roots among the Jews back in the three centuries before the beginnings of the Christian Church. [Read more…]
Editor’s note: All Scripture references are from the Gospel of Mark unless other wise noted.
The first writings of the New Testament were the letters of St. Paul. The author of Mark’s gospel ventured into new territory when he wrote his proclamation of the good news. Nothing in this genre had been written before. The gospel features a geographical-theological setting beginning in Galilee and ending in Jerusalem. [Read more…]
Until recently the Gospels were thought to be biographies of Jesus. However scholars now agree that they are catechisms of teachings concerning the risen Lord written to increase the faith of the readers. Each writer chose special material for different audiences in different decades which account for some of their variances. [Read more…]
Editor’s note: All Scripture references are from the Gospel of Luke unless other wise noted.
The Gospel of Luke appears as part one of a two volume work, Luke-Acts, dedicated to someone named Theophilus (1:3; Acts 1;1) Today they are separated. Critics acclaim the author’s style as one of the best in the New Testament. [Read more…]
Mary in the Old Testament
She appears as a prototype of the second Eve in the creation narrative. After human-kind sins in the Garden of Eden, God says to the serpent (Satan), “I will put enmity you and the woman and between your offspring and hers. He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel,” (Gen. 3:15). [Read more…]
Recently an archeological find of great importance to Bible scholars was announced in the press. An ossuary (bone box) surfaced as part of a private collection with the inscription “James the son of Joseph, the brother of Jesus.” In June 2003 the Israel Antiquities Authority declared it a forgery. [Read more…]
The books of Daniel and Revelation are of the apocalyptic genre, a unique literary form peculiar to the age in which they were written. Often described as crisis literature, they clearly were spawned during times of great stress in history when the only solution seemed to call for God’s intervention in the affairs of humankind. [Read more…]
The Bible is a library of some of the religious literature of ancient Israel and of the Christian Church. Like any library it contains a great variety of literary forms. There is history, saga, tales of tribal heroes, and legends about the beginnings of the world. There are poetry, drama, parables, allegory, prophecy, maxims, proverbs, and love stories. The Gospels are a unique literary form of their own. We have letters and apocalyptic writings peculiar to the times when they were written. All the literary forms have rules for interpretation. The Biblical scholars have provided those rules for us so that we can get the true meaning from the text. The Bible is not self-explanatory! [Read more…]
The Book of Revelation is written in a style very rich in symbols and images. Numbers are used frequently throughout the book. This is not going to be an exhaustive breakdown of all of the symbols and numbers but, rather, a demonstration of some tendencies that exist in scripture, and some things that can be discerned about the book. [Read more…]
Do Catholics follow the Bible?
Catholics have used the Scriptures for their faith for as long as they have existed. The Bible has not always existed in its current form. In fact, it was not put together as a compiled work until well into the 4th century! [Read more…]
Reading the Bible can be a daunting task, but the goal of many organizations over the years has been to make it easier for the common person to read and understand its message and God’s word. [Read more…]