Starting from Genesis and reading all the way to Revelation may seem like the best strategy, but it’s not the best one for most believers, especially those who’ve yet to extensively study the Bible.
In this guide on where to start reading the bible for Catholics, we explain different strategies and some of the tools and resources that will help you on your Journey.
What You'll Learn Today
Can You Read The Entire Bible and How Long Does It Take?
Plenty of people have already read the entire Bible, so it’s not an insurmountable challenge. That said, it may not be as easy as you anticipate.
Certain books like Leviticus and Deuteronomy in the Old Testament and the various letters like Ephesians and Philipians can be difficult to get through.
But if you are committed to reading the entire Bible, it becomes a matter of how long it’ll take.
For most people, one year is a reasonable time to read the entire Bible. If you read for 10-30 minutes a day (depending on your reading speed) you can complete the Bible in 365 days or less. You’ll need to read an entire chapter or multiple chapters per day.
If you are reading the Catholic Bible complete with the deuterocanonical books, it’ll be tougher to get through the entire Bible in one year.
You can still do it, but you’ll need to spend more time reading daily (at least 30 minutes).
How long it takes to read the Bible also depends on your goal.
If it’s just to finish reading the Bible, you could probably do it in even less time if you dedicate an hour or more daily to the challenge.
But if your goal is to read and understand the word of God, then it doesn’t really matter how long it takes.
For most believers who want to delve deep into each verse and understand the connections between different books, teaching and prophecies, completing the Bible takes several years.
Where To Start Reading The Bible?
You can start reading right from Genesis and follow the order of the books all the way to Revelation. But many people soon run into challenges.
By the time you are getting to the end of the book of Exodus, you have to wade through endless pages of laws given to the Israelites.
The prophets like Jeremiah, and Isaiah can also be difficult to read.
Reading the same style of verses like in Psalms can also get pretty boring, no matter how uplifting they are.
There are better and easier ways to start reading the bible. We explain the best approaches below.
Start With The Gospels
The most common advice, especially for new believers and those new to the Bible, is to begin with the Gospels.
The life, crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of our Christian faith. So it makes sense that you start with the books that narrate the life of Jesus.
Another advantage of starting with the Gospels is that they are fairly easy to read and combine a lot of stuff you’ll find in other books (prophesies, wisdom, teachings, history, and a bit of Genealogy).
The four Gospels also tie together the rest of the Bible. As you read the Old Testament, you can see the prophecies that have already been fulfilled. And as you later read the epistles, you can understand how Jesus inspired the apostles to give up everything to spread the gospel.
- Start with the Gospel of Mark. It’s the shortest and easiest Gospel to read. You can then read the other Gospels in any order you wish.
- From there, read the book of Acts. You can continue with the Epistles, but some people find it easier to take a break and go back to the Old Testament.
- Read Genesis and Exodus to get a grasp of how everything begins. Skip Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy and start at Joshua and read all the way to Job.
- Go back to the New Testament and read all the epistles plus Revelation.
- Read the wisdom books of the Old Testament (Proverbs, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs).
- Read all the minor and major prophets.
- Complete the three books of the pentateuch you skipped – Leviticus, Numbers, & Deuteronomy.
- Read the deuterocanonical books.
Read From Different Books Of the Bible Each Day
Strategies, like the one above, that involve reading an entire book of the Bible before moving to the next one can be difficult for some people.
Some books like Psalms and the law books will take a long time to get through.
You might prefer to combine readings from multiple books.
For example, you can read a chapter from the Gospels, another from one of the historical books like Samuel and another from Psalms or Proverbs.
This keeps your Bible sessions interesting. You also get a dose of history, inspiration, and wisdom in one sitting. It also makes it easier to get through denser parts of the books like the genealogies and laws.
You’ll need to come up with a plan and keep track of which books you are currently reading, and the ones you’ve already read.
Follow A Bible Reading Plan
The easiest option for most people is following a prepared Bible reading plan. You can get plenty of those online.
We recommend a reading plan designed specifically for a Catholic bible like the New American Bible (NAB) Revised Edition.
There are plenty of Bible reading plans online as well as various apps that can help you track your progress.
Some plans follow the order of the books in the Bible, others follow the chronological order in which the books were written, while others are thematic. You can also find plans made specifically for beginners, designed to make reading the entire Bible as easy as possible.
Best Resources For Studying The Bible
Some concepts and topics in the Bible can be difficult to grasp on your own. If you want to read and understand the Bible, we highly recommend using study aids and resources.
Some of these resources can be downloaded for free online or you can buy them at a local store.
- A concordance. This is an index of words used in the Bible and where they are used in the scripture. It’s a great tool for making connections among various parts of the Bible and identifying recurring themes. Here’s a concordance for the NAB revised edition.
- A study Bible. A study Bible is an all-in-one book that combines the bible, reading guides, study notes, references, and even a pared down concordance. Our favorite is The Catholic Study Bible.
- A Bible dictionary. A good Bible dictionary doesn’t just define words used in the Bible, it also notes where they are used and offers additional context to help you fully understand the meaning of the words.
We also recommend getting a Bible journal, or any kind of journal for writing study notes, notable verses, and your meditations.
Other helpful tools include a Bible atlas to help you grasp locations and boundaries in the Bible, a Bible encyclopedia (more in-depth than a Bible dictionary), and a Bible commentary if you want to extensively study the Bible including translations and interpretations of various words and texts.