HOW TO READ THE BIBLE
The Bible is a rich, complex text, open to all
If you've ever thought the Bible is too intimidating to tackle, relax!
God's word for God's people is multifaceted and we all have questions about it.
With a little digging, you'll find this ancient, divinely-inspired text is accessible and relevant to your life today.
Ways to Explore the
Bible Right Now
Bookmark the free Bibles to the right so you always have access to a free copy of the Bible online.
Check out the Lectionary Planning Helps for Sundays on the General Board of Discipleship site.
Explore the information to the right to examine specific texts, characters, themes, and more.
How to Read the Bible
United Methodists believe scripture is "the primary source and criterion for Christian doctrine." (UMC Book of Discipline, 78-79). The biblical authors were human beings living in their particular historical and cultural context and divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit to bear "authentic testimony to God's self-disclosure in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as well as in God's work of creation, in the pilgrimage of Israel, and in the Holy Spirit's ongoing activity in human history.
Scripture is the primary way to know God and it is to be viewed through the lenses of tradition, reason, and experience. This way of approaching the Bible is called the "Wesleyan Quadrilateral."
Tradition is the lens that examines scripture through the rituals, creeds, preaching, teachings, and writings of the church past, present, and future and how it has, does, and will respond to God's word.
Reason is our understanding that we cannot unplug our brains out when approaching scripture - God gave us brains for a reason.
Methodism founder John Wesley and his cohorts at Oxford reasoned a new method for living out a Christian life based on scripture.
"Through this faithful reading of scripture, we may come to know the truth of the biblical message in its bearing on our own lives and the life of the world."
In his sermon "The Scripture Way to Salvation," Wesley paints a clear image of the importance of study that applies to us today.
of the Bible
The original written language of the Older Testament (OT) is Hebrew.
The original written language of the Newer Testament (NT) is Koine Greek, or "common Greek."
Ancient Hebrew and Koine Greek have similarities and differences with their modern-day counterparts.
Bible Hub is a free online resource to read Scripture and look up the original Hebrew and Greek words.
Know what you're referring to. The "Bible" is a collection, or library, of books. "Scripture" is the text inside.
"Bible" means "books" and it contains 66 of them - 39 in the OT and 27 in the NT.
Choosing a Translation
There are dozens of well-loved and well-respected translations of the Bible in hundreds of languages. Choosing the right one for you can be a rewarding experience. Consider the following three kinds of translation:
Dynamic translations --forgo some literal verbal translation to bring scripture into a particular time or culture via contemporary language. (Jerusalem Bible, New English Bible, Contemporary English Version)
Paraphrases are less of a translation and more of a creative construction of scripture text which tries to capture the spirit of the original text. (The Living Bible, The Message)
Context, Context, Context!
Who you are affects how you take in scripture. Your social location matters. AND so does that of someone who has differences with you. Keep this in mind - you're starting point and someone else's starting point - when discussing scripture and its meaning(s) in civil dialogue.
Tools for Bible Reflection
SOAPY Method - Printable Template
Ask a pastor. They love that sort of thing!
READ THE BIBLE ONLINE FOR FREE
Bible Gateway | Read dozens of Bible translations and paraphrases for free.
Common English Bible | The Methodist publishing house Abingdon Press has partnered with many inter-denominational scholars to craft a new translation (2011).
RESOURCES AT ST. THOMAS UMC
The Library (located on the third floor)
Print Bibles Are Available | There are a variety of Bibles available throughout the building, located in the sanctuary, in classrooms and in the library.