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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
At the moment, I'm currently on an Alpha Course. I've been to the first four talks, and I understand that tonight's talk is about how to read the Bible.

I'm still amazed at how clever some people are when they're able to find Bible passages that are relevant to problems that people are having. How do you do it? I think the Bible is a great source of guidance, but to me it's just too big, and I can't find my way around it.

I mean - I'm aware of the overall structure, about how the Old Testament starts with the five books on law and then has more prosaic stuff about the history of the Jews. And then in the New Testament, you've got the four Gospels, the Acts, the letters that St Paul wrote and a few other writings, then Revelations at the end - but that's it. Actually finding passages about things is something else.

Any suggestions? Thanks.
 

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I've been a Christian for 10 years and I still haven't read the whole bible. You're right, it can be very overwhelming.

Here's one suggestion. I listen to alot of audio sermons. I think I retain alot more when I hear scripture rather than just reading it. Most churches have audio sermons on their websites nowadays. I tend to pick sermons that deal with the issues and struggles I go through and that helps me as well.
 

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I know some bibles have a section in the back where you can locate scriptures topically. Is that what you are looking for? I know my New American Bible has one.
 

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This is how I read the bible:
http://www.ocarm.org/lectio/lecteng1.htm

As for which passages, I usually consult a lectionary from a prayer book or some similar thing, since I don't know where the ruddy passages'll be either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Since making that last post, I've discovered StudyLight.org - as well as searching for words in various English translations of the Bible, you can also use a number of public domain concordances, dictionaries and encyclopedias.

I found it using the Open Directory Project - there are a few others, but I think this is one of the best ones.

Only snag is, their search facility only lets you search one concordance, dictionary or encyclopedia at a time. If you wanted to search all of them simultaneously, the best way is to use a Google query on the site - like this one for anxiety - or if you wanted to search the whole text rather than just the title, you'd drop the "intitle:" keyword.

The advantage of searching this way is that if you're looking for combinations of two or more concepts, you're more likely to find something. Searching the Bible directly for two or more concepts is unlikely to find any results at all, since most Bible search facilities only show matches where all the words appear in the same verse.

But I still think it's a bit clumsy. I'd like to be able to find things in the Bible in the same way I can find things in Wikipedia!

Still, I guess that no matter how many hoops you jump through, there's only a limit to the extent that the Bible can be used as reference material. From what I've been able to find out from wikipedia, it seems that the alphabetised dictionaries and encyclopedias we take for granted today are a product of the Age of Enlightenment, and before that, the Bible would have been the nearest thing that many literate people had to an encyclopedia. I guess the Bible was never designed to be simply dipped into when you feel like it.

But that's not to say we can't use post-Enlightenment material to help us study the Bible. I'm just frustrated that I don't find it as easy as finding stuff in wikipedia.

I think would be good to join Bible study group attached to a local church, where there's a structure of regular Bible study and discussion. I've joined home groups in the past, but sometimes felt they were a little obscure, so perhaps I need a group which is more geared towards a general overview of the Bible.

Any thoughts on this, or suggestions? Thanks.
 
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