BASIC INTRODUCTIONS TO THE BIBLE
Everyone comes to Bible study
with questions that an introductory book answers. Getting your initial questions
answered gives you a solid foundation for beginning your relationship with Scripture.
A comprehensive Catholic introduction
to the Bible will:
Explain how to choose a Bible,
including information on translations and the differences among Christian Bibles.
Present a short overview of
what's in the Bible and how the biblical books and the Bible as a whole came to
Teach you the basics of Bible
study tools, such as using your Bible's notes and cross-references and using Bible
atlases, concordances, and dictionaries.
Present basic methods for Bible
study and Bible prayer.
Help you understand what the Church means by revelation and inspiration when referring
to the word of God, and the place of Scripture in the life of the Church.
Describe in a simple way how Catholics read the Bible and explain some of the Bible's
Each Bible introduction addresses
questions like these in different ways and to different depth. Look at a few introductions
to see which addresses your questions best.
Another type of introduction to the Bible focuses on an overview
of the Bible's sections and books, giving a sense of how the parts fit together
and how the Bible came to be. It expands what you'll get on this topic in a comprehensive
Sometimes, getting an overview
of what's in the Bible is the first thing people want to do when they begin Bible
study. Some people want a longer overview of the Bible after they've studied awhile.
Both types of introductions
are valuable and serve different needs. It all depends on you.
Whichever introduction you
choose, be sure to get a book produced by someone with training and experience in
the modern Catholic approach to interpreting Scripture.
The Bible Blueprint: A Catholic's Guide to Understanding
and Embracing God's Word
by Joe Paprocki Loyola Press (2009)
and easy to read book (with cartoons and quizzes!) that addresses
questions most Bible
beginners have: how to overcome “bibliaphobia;” how the Bible is organized
(with highlights of each book); how to use footnotes and cross-references; and how
numbers are used in the Bible. It also offers a good, simple description of how
Catholics read and interpret the Bible and advice on beginning a Bible program in
your parish. Includes a salvation history timeline, Bible bookmarks, and an annotated
bibliography for Catholic Bible study.
Can easily be used with middle school and high school
youth. A great resource for catechist training, for informal Bible groups, or for
anyone who wants a quick, easy way to get started with the Bible. A good "nuts and
A Catholic Guide
to the Bible (Revised)
Oscar Lukefahr, C.M.
What I would call a hybrid introduction to the Bible: Part I (40 pages)
presents essential topics such as Bible translations, Bible study tools, the Bible's
divine and human authorship, and how Catholics read and interpret the Bible, all
in a personal and inviting way. Parts II and III (150 pages) offer what the author
describes as a "guided tour" of the Bible, with basic background information and
helps for interpretation, summaries, and selected passages for each section and
book of the Bible. Every page of this book shines with the author's deep relationship
with the Bible, and he aims his book at beginners who have obstacles to developing
their own relationships with Scripture. Each chapter ends with simple reflection
questions and excellent activities that help the reader relate Scripture to his
or her life.
An excellent resource for a parish or neighborhood Bible study
group, working through the book (and the Bible) over the course of a year. The thoughtful
reflection questions and activities would guide the group's discussions. A separate
workbook is also available from Liguori.
the Bible: An Introduction to Sacred Scripture for Catholics
J. Binz The
Liturgical Press (2007)
A more in-depth introduction by a biblical scholar who has authored books
and Bible study programs aimed at average Catholics, this book addresses large questions
in a thoughtful, clearly written way. It offers excellent information for choosing
a Bible and a chapter that helps you explore your Bible. Its special strength, however,
are the chapters that address deeper questions, such as what is revelation, the
word of God in Christian life, how the Bible has functioned in the Church, and how
the Catholic approach to Scripture compares to biblical fundamentalism. (Students
read this book before entering the Biblical Institute of the Diocese of Joliet.)
Recommended for those who want to start with a more in-depth introduction, or for
Catholics who've been reading the Bible for a long time and realize they need what
a Bible introduction offers. This book is also an excellent resource for anyone
in a Catholic ministry that emphasizes Scripture.
NOTE: Little Rock Scripture Study has developed a 7-week
beginner-level study program for this book. See
Bible Study Programs.
RESOURCES: Overviews of the Bible
to Know the Bible: A Catholic Guide to Studying Scripture
by Rev. Melvin
L. Farrell, S.S., rev. by J. McHugh
ACTA Publications (2003)
This book introduces the Bible in a different way: it
leads you through the Bible section-by-section, offering an overview of the theological
stories of both the Old Testament and the New Testament, and how those two stories
fit together. The overview recognizes the connection of each book to the people,
time, and place out of which it arose (part of the Catholic approach to Scripture).
It also presents Christianity to a large extent in continuity with Judaism rather
than superceding it (which is an older view). The book includes good, simple chapters
on whether or not Christ's coming was foretold in the Bible, how the Old Testament
came to be, and the Jewish setting for the New Testament books. With this introduction,
you'll get a solid sense of both the history behind the biblical books and the larger
theological story the Bible tells. Includes a biblical timeline.
Recommended for anyone who wants to begin Bible study by learning what the Bible
is about, or for those who've been reading parts of the Bible and want to understand
If you're in parish ministry and are asked, "What's
the Bible all about?" this is the book to have in the library!
Guide to the Holy Bible
by Msgr. Pietro
Principe (translated from Italian)
Libreria Editrice Vaticana (2010)
This short guide, produced by the Vatican, is available from the United States Conference
of Catholic Bishops. It serves more as a brief reference than a real introduction
to the Bible, with sidebar summaries on topics such as the historical mentions of
Jesus and lectio divina, a paragraph describing each biblical book, and a glossary
of biblical persons (without biblical citations). Its strength is its presentation
of ideas from the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum).