Tips for Effective Bible Study
Choose the right Bible for
Before you read a single word, you have to make sure
of one thing: that your Bible is approved by the Catholic Church.
It is unfortunate that due to the beliefs of those who have separated
from our Church, many of these groups have added or omitted books or
offered their own new Bible translation to suit their tenets.
Theirs will differ from the Catholic Bible as compiled by our
forefathers under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
When looking through Bible translations, the first
thing you should do is find the "Nihil Obstat" and "Imprimatur" within
the first few pages. These mean that a censor assigned by the
Church has reviewed everything written and a Bishop has given the final
approval for it to be published. You should also do these for any
books you purchase that address any elements of our faith. With
these proclamations, you can be certain what you are reading is
consistent with the teachings of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.
With that said, there still remains the different
versions of approved Catholic Bibles from which you can choose.
Though all versions bearing this approval are safe to read, the
Douay Rheims Bible is said to be the most accurate in that it was
based on St. Jerome's Latin Vulgate, acknowledged as the Church's
definitive text for Sacred Scripture. Other non-textual variations
are simply in the size of the type (for people with poor vision), the
accompanying guide or commentary suited for different purposes
(illustrated for young children, study guides for bible study, etc.), or
the durability of the paper and binding.
How to Read the Whole Catholic
Fun fact: If you attend Mass everyday for three
years, you would have heard the entire Catholic Bible during the
readings. If you want to read it in one year, you will need to
read about 85 verses from it every day. There really isn't a
prescribed plan on how to read the Bible. You can choose to read
it front to back, from Genesis to Revelation, if you wish. Or, you
can choose to read several verses or chapters from its different
divisions. Notice how both Testaments mirror one another:
Laws - how God established the rules since
History - events in the Israelites' story
Poetry - useful adages for daily living
Prophets - prophecies of the coming Messiah.
The Gospels - the story of Jesus Christ
The Acts of the Apostles - the story of the early
Church after Jesus' death
Letters - correspondences that illustrate and
apply Jesus' teachings
Revelation - prophecies of the Second Coming.
Catechism of the Catholic Church states that both Old and New
Testaments show the unity of God's divine plan for our salvation.
Jesus Christ in the New Testament is the fulfillment of the promises of
the Old Testament. Therefore, we must "read the Old Testament in
the light of Christ crucified and risen." Likewise, the New Testament
must be read acknowledging its precedents in the Old. (CCC 128,
129). It is advisable then to start with the Gospels: read about
Jesus Christ who is the center and fulfillment of our entire Holy Bible.
From there, we can perform a better exegesis (the explanation or
interpretation of Sacred Scripture) of any of the Bible verses we will
An Example of How to Read the
Let us examine a Bible verse from the New Testament
as an example of how to read scripture.
St. Matthew 27:45-46:
From noon onward, darkness came over
the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about
three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli,
lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have
you forsaken me?"
We know this as Jesus' last words in St. Matthew's
Gospel before He dies in the ultimate sacrifice for our salvation.
But digging deeper, we will find that Jesus' last words is exactly from
Psalm 22 of the Old Testament, titled Passion and Triumph of the
Messiah. In these verses, David describes how the Messiah will
come to be treated, right down to the piercing of the nails in His hands
and feet, the pouring of water from His body, and how the Centurions
casted lots for His garments. In His last breath, Jesus reveals
that this Old Testament prophecy has come true through Him.
Now, here's an Old Testament example.
Genesis 14: 18-20:
Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought
out bread and wine, and being a priest of God Most High, he
blessed Abram with these words: "Blessed be Abram by God
Most High, the creator of heaven and earth; And blessed be
God Most High, who delivered your foes into your hand."
We see this again in the Gospels of the New
Testament, in Jesus' bread and wine of the Last Supper. This
is the foundation of the Eucharist our priests celebrate this very day.
We see that it has its origins even in the very first book of the
Why is it important to
read and know the Bible?
Apologetics is the defense of our Catholic beliefs. Knowing
what is said in the Bible equips us with the foundations of every single
thing we believe and practice as Catholics. When prompted with
those difficult questions that many ask of us--like what is the basis
for the infallibility of our Pope, to the true presence of Christ in the
Eucharist, to why we need to Confess to a priest, or to why we venerate
our Saints--we can support our answers using the Word of God.