Which bible, if any?(36 Posts)
I am an atheist, as far as I can remember I've never believed in any God or religion, I was sent to Sunday school as a child & remember even then thinking that the stories I was learning were just that, stories.
However, I've recently been thinking about the Christian Bible and thinking I'd like to read it again, partly to re-familiarise myself with it (my DSD is 8 & at a catholic school, she often has RE homework which I'd like to help with), and partly because it is a very good book.
Is this disrespectful? To just read a holy book because it's a 'good read'?
If not, which version of the book should I get? I want to read both testaments, but I'm clueless about which book to buy, are there lots of versions? Are some easier to read than others?
I really hope I haven't offended anyone with my questions, I don't want anyone to think I'm belittling a holy book.
I have a Life Application Bible (NIV) which is excellent - good footnotes and summaries of each book etc. It also has notes on the different people and maps.
This is the one I have. I've bought it for a couple of friends as well.
Labrat Not disrespectful at all. If nothing else, you can find out more about other's beliefs and culture. It is also interesting to study, in terms of it being an historical text, containing some very old writings.
I like the King James. But I also like to look at other translations on this website:
Is the King James both testaments? (Told you I was clueless!)
Obviously I've heard of the KJ & that was the one I first thought of when I thought of buying a bible.
I'm more 'interested' in the Old Testament from a purely 'interesting read' point of view although I want to read the whole book eventually.
I can't ever see myself finding a faith, I just can't 'believe', I admire those who do & sometimes wish I had something in my life to believe in, but I just can't get over the believing in God bit.
Thanks for your recommendations.
The NIV (New International Version) is easy enough to read. I personally prefer the ESV (English Standard Version). The New Living Translation is in more modern language. However if you require one more suited to the Catholic faith you will need to get specific ones such as RSVCE or CTS as the Catholic bibles have 7 additional books not in a 'Protestant' bible.
Yes, the King James is both testaments, although as minnie mentioned the Catholic Bible has more books in it.
You can compare translations and look up passages on the Bible Gateway website I linked to earlier. If you have a look you might get a feel for which translation you would prefer to read.
I love The Message version. It is very easy to read... Like a story book. Thoroughly modern language too. Tbh you can download a bible app on your phone which will have multiple versions so you swap between. I use it because my pastor reads there NIV so I swasp to that on as Sunday morning to follow along. Cheaper than buying multiple copies! The app is free on android and apple. Mine is called Bible (shocking ) & lifechurch.TV as the developer.
I found a free kindle version of the ESV on Amazon, went to download it, just to have a look, and got a message that I'd already downloaded it in 2012! I've clearly been thinking about this for a while!
I've started reading & will continue. I'll also have a look at the apps.
I would remember to approach the bible as a library of books and not a novel, so don't start on the first page of Genesis and just think you will continue to the end. You could be easily totally confused and overwhelmed as it is definitely not one book with a single narrative. Some books are law books, some poetry, some history. I would suggest you start by reading one of the Gospels in the New Testament such as Luke followed by Acts which are linked. This gives you a concise framework of Christianity and the early church. Then approach the Old Testament, you can begin by reading Genesis and then maybe the Psalms and Isaiah.
I personally prefer a translation that uses clear but poetic current language and like The New Jerusalem bible en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Jerusalem_Bible which is the Catholic translation used at Mass in the Catholic churches in most of the English speaking world except the USA.
Another vote here for the New Jerusalem Bible -- I think the most readable translation around (apart from the Message, which I also like).
I would strongly warn against the KJV. The language is wonderful in places, but it's really not very approachable, and it has lots of translation errors that have been corrected since. It's a really hard slog in places.
Also agree with FrancisdeSales that it's not a 'begin at the beginning and read through to the end kind of a book', and agree that Luke/Acts is a great place to start, followed by Genesis/Exodus; I recommend dipping into the Psalms, and then perhaps Amos if you want to look at the prophets.
Biblegateway (as recommended by Capsium) is useful, but it doesn't have NRSV which is the only translation that is acceptable to all denominations. You can find NRSV, KJV, NIV on Oremus Bible Browser which I find easier to use than Biblegateway.
Biblegateway is great...it does have NRSV! That's my favourite version as it's the academic standard. The Message is good but probably not for your first read.
It doesn't really matter which version you read though. You might want to try C S Lewis 'Surprised by Joy' to read about his journey from atheism to theism and then Christianity if you are interested. He was an Oxford academic so it's not a touchy feely 'spiritual book' just quite straight forward autobiography.
ESV is considered a good accurate translation, which tries to be literal in the way it translates things rather than aiming to give you the 'meaning' of the original texts. I think it's a good choice for an atheist, because it's not wrapping things up into language that starts from any particular assumption (beyond the assumptions in the originals of course).
KJV is loved by people who grew up with it, but it's a struggle for anyone else. And, I think, a weird thing to cling to - it was written quite deliberately to be in language that ordinary people could understand. So why keep using that instead of one that uses language that people today understand, which has changed massively over time?
AMum Don't know for sure. I just like it. The language speaks to me. I studied English Literature at University, have a love for Chaucer (original Middle English text, not translation) Shakespeare and Jacobean literature too. Not necessarily 'easy' texts but I just find they come alive when I read them. People have their own preferences sometimes...
At the very least being familiar with the contents of the bible enlightens the understanding of much literature, theatre, architecture and visual arts of all kinds that reference it in some way.
There is a really good little book by Simon Jenkins called 'The Bible from Scratch: A Lightning Tour From Genesis To Revelation' which gives an introduction to each book of the Bible, when it was written, who wrote it and why. As the Bible is a library and not a book (as mentioned above) this is a really good way to orientate yourself to what you are reading.
While you think you might like to amuse yourself with The Brick Testament.
I think The Message is New Testament only? Which is perhaps easier to relate to everyday life. The Living Bible is the whole thing in modern language, but even then the lists of who fathered whom are worth skipping through!
I don't think it's disrespectful to read The Bible because it's a good read. I'm often taken by surprise at what good advice it gives on living, regardless of whether you believe in God.
I would start at the beginning Genesis and read it like a book.
The old testament has the goriest stories in it, some hilarious and many shocking. Best you get a good feel for the genocidal god before you move on the the new testament which is dull in parts, apart from Reveltions which is alos quite colourful.
What people find dull, hilarious etc is subjective. For example, to me, the New Testament is far from dull. Otherwise I would not be Christian.
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