The Bible has had a profound impact on our world, yet most people are only vaguely familiar with what it actually contains. Some remember from childhood a few of its most famous stories, and others a few words they've heard quoted at a wedding or a funeral, or even a verse or two that have been turned into a song by a pop musician.
One of the problems of course is that when someone picks up the Bible for the first time, its hundreds of pages of strange text with often peculiar expressions can seem pretty daunting. And for someone coming to it for the first time, the normal reflex to just crack the cover open and begin with chapter 1 might not be the best approach. This short introductory tour has been produced and made available by the Bible Society to help you get your feet wet – especially if this is your first experience with the Bible. The thirty short sections that follow will only take about 5 minutes each, and they have been designed to do three things:
First, if you’re not familiar with the Bible, there are a few basic ground rules and conventions that will help you find your way around and better understand what you’re reading. While this short intro obviously isn’t a full course about the Bible, it has been developed to give you some of the basics to help get you started.
Secondly, though the Bible is actually an assembled collection of several dozen books, there are some overall themes and a general structure that flow through it. Some of these themes will emerge as you work through this selection of introductory readings. You may well have already heard several portions we will read together, but this time you can get a better grasp of where they fit in the Bible as a whole. These broad brush strokes will provide an overall structure within which you will even be able to place other portions of the Bible you will read on your own.
When people of other faiths read the Bible for the first time they often comment about how different it is from other sacred books. If anyone were starting a new organization, or maybe even a new religion, and were writing a book to launch it, they would probably tend to list out a long series of fairly precise instructions and commandments in great detail. But strangely, this foundational text for the Christian faith – and even the large portions of it that have been at the core of the Jewish faith – contain stories, poetry, letters and material in all kinds of literary styles. Our third goal in this intro, is to give you a taste of those different styles.
The people at the Bible Society have so deeply appreciated the positive effect the Bible has had in their own lives that they are convinced this great book still has important insights for our world today, and they strive to make it as easily accessible to as many people as possible both here at home, and around the world. This Bible intro is one of many initiatives designed to help reach that goal. If you would like to know more about the Bible or about the Bible Society’s work with it, you can easily find any one of our local chapters on the Internet or in your local phone directory. We would be particularly happy to answer any other questions you might have about the Bible!
May your reading be profitable!