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Thread: Which parts of the bible should I read?

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    Deus Meumque Jus
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    Which parts of the bible should I read?

    Preface to this thread: I'm not interested in arguments about how or why the bible is fallacious or not the literal word of God. I'm starting the thread under the assumption that this is true, but would like to know more about the bible from an objective perspective

    I was given an old, readable study Bible for Christmas and have been picking through it, I'd like to know which parts you'd recommend I read. You can choose a part or section for any criteria you choose, but please avoid the look how batshit this is criteria.

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    "Objective perspective" is pretty vague. What are you seeking: historical narratives, beliefs, images of deities, literature? If literature, I recommend Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Lamentations. Skim Psalms -- I think an awful lot of them are forgettable. Proverbs, a very mixed bag. The prophetical books I find impenetrable. Only read Revelations on acid or Viagra (so that you can either trip with John or find a quick and entertaining exit strategy from John's cloud banks of weirdness.) BTW, which translation is your Bible?

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    Deus Meumque Jus
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    Quote Originally Posted by ideologyhunter View Post
    "Objective perspective" is pretty vague. What are you seeking: historical narratives, beliefs, images of deities, literature? If literature, I recommend Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Lamentations. Skim Psalms -- I think an awful lot of them are forgettable. Proverbs, a very mixed bag. The prophetical books I find impenetrable. Only read Revelations on acid or Viagra (so that you can either trip with John or find a quick and entertaining exit strategy from John's cloud banks of weirdness.) BTW, which translation is your Bible?
    Yea, objective is pretty vague. I kept it that way so the thread could go in any direction, but mostly I'm interested in looking at the bible from an anthropological perspective - starting from the assumption that it's a religious text made by people, for people, and how the existence and contents of the text inform our understanding of both people and religion.

    But mostly I'm just interested in getting some direction to what's inside of it, and people pointing me to parts of it for various reasons. I read a bunch of Genesis and Corinthians over the past few days and found it fascinating poring over the word choice, and that type of thing, but I'm open to suggestion of different sections for different reasons.

    Not entirely sure of the translation but I believe it's one of these published some time in the early seventies.

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    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
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    You may start by reading Exodus 20, 21, 22, and 23... the ten commandments and, more importantly, the laws. This will give you an insight into the mindset of the writers for all the rest of the Bible so a better understanding of what message the other books were meant to convey.

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    Veteran Member James Brown's Avatar
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    The Book of Genesis is essential to understand the foundational myths of Judaism (and to a lesser degree, conservative Christianity.) The Book of Exodus is also an important hagiography of Jewish history regarding their leaving the bondage of Egypt and migrating to modern-day Israel.

    Leviticus through Deuteronomy is heavy on ceremonial and legal detail which no one really pays attention to anymore.

    Joshua expands the historical segments of Exodus as the Hebrews conquered modern-day Israel. If that sort of history is interesting to you, then First Samuel through Second Chronicles recounts the rise of famous kings like David and Solomon, albeit in a disjointed fashion. You may require some outside sources to get the proper chronological sequence.

    Job is an interesting morality play about the role of suffering.

    Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes are considered "wisdom literature" filled with poems, songs, pithy sayings, and philosophical essays about various subjects.

    Song of Solomon is a love poem reportedly from King Solomon to one of his concubines.

    What follows in the Old Testament are the major and minor prophets (the distinction being how long their books are.) You can forget any sort of chronological order when reading these as there is none. The lesson in most of them is that Israel was sinning, and the prophet warned the people that if they didn't straighten up Jehovah would punish them in various awful ways. When the books were written was usually interspersed with the historical pieces several books earlier, something which you'll need a commentary to keep straight.

    Various books throughout (Ezra, Esther, Nehemiah, Daniel) touch on Israel after it had been conquered and the Israelite elites were physically removed to Persia, then later returned to restore their temple and government.

    That's the Old Testament, and their's a long gap between the last chronological book of the Old Testament and the first New Testament book.

    The New Testament starts with the four gospels--Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John--which retell the life of Jesus. But despite the events described around 30 CE, they weren't the first Christian books written. Those were the earliest letters of Paul to various churches, written usually one to two decades after Jesus. The Gospels were written in the last half of the first century.

    The Book of Acts covers the founding of the first Christian churches and the transition of power/influence from the Jewish disciples to the non-Jewish Paul.

    The epistles of Paul, Peter, and John are a blend of how to run a proper church, what a proper Christian should and should not believe, and should and should not do. Romans is Paul's most expansive theological treatise.

    The Book of Revelations is a retelling of a prophetic vision of the future and triumph of the Church, meant to be a source of comfort during persecution.

    Hope this helps. I found Isaac Asimov's guide to the Bible to be an essential companion as he explains much of the historical and political background behind the Bible.

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    Veteran Member Lion IRC's Avatar
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    One approach might be to pick a time in human history and go to the relevant/corresponding part of the bible. It's no coincidence that the invention of writing (cuneiform) and Abraham share the same pages of history. Or that Moses and Tuthmosis sound phonetically similar.

    Search the bible and you'll find Sargon king of Assyria written of as a secular historical fact. And Belshazzar King of Babylon. And places like Ophir, 60 miles north of Bombay, where King Solomon got some of his huge reserves of gold.




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    Contributor Cheerful Charlie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Preface to this thread: I'm not interested in arguments about how or why the bible is fallacious or not the literal word of God. I'm starting the thread under the assumption that this is true, but would like to know more about the bible from an objective perspective

    I was given an old, readable study Bible for Christmas and have been picking through it, I'd like to know which parts you'd recommend I read. You can choose a part or section for any criteria you choose, but please avoid the look how batshit this is criteria.
    It depends on what you are reading for. For example, the Pentateuch, the first 5 books of the Bible, do not mention Satan, immortal souls, heaven or hell. It is a far different world of religion than what modern day Christians believe. But most people can read these books several times and not catch that.

    Start with Genesis 1 -3. Important since the tales herein were adopted by Paul to give us original sin, the linchpin of Christianity. And we fight the damned creationist tooth and nail to teach science in our schools because of Genesis.

    The Pentateuch. A pseudo-history that is the basis of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

    Paul. Especially Romans and Ephesians. Here we find the basic foundations of Christianity. The dogmas of Christianity.

    The Gospels and Acts. Read critically, the contradictions of the tales herein are obvious.

    These for starters. Then there are the prophets, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah. The war of Yahwehism against 'false gods'. Lots of false prophecies of the new world to come. Commands of God via his prophets demanding justice and concern for the poor and oppressed. The good parts of the OT. You will find yourself reading something that is interesting and then reread other parts you have read to follow up on new insights as to what the writers of these books were thinking.

    The OT is 66 books and the NT 27 books. You will not be able to read it through quickly and think about it easily in a short period of time.
    Cheerful Charlie

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    Veteran Member funinspace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James Brown View Post
    That's the Old Testament, and their's a long gap between the last chronological book of the Old Testament and the first New Testament book.
    That is true, only if one discounts the Bible used by the RCC, as they have other books like the Maccabees which is much closer to the NT.



    I found Isaac Asimov's guide to the Bible to be an essential companion as he explains much of the historical and political background behind the Bible.
    Yep, that would be a good companion. I'd also recommend a study Bible like the New Oxford Study Bible (NRSV)
    https://www.amazon.com/s?k=new+oxfor...l_3fn65pdl6i_e

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    Ken's Guide to the Bible satisfies my snarky side (which is easily 60% of my conscious existence.) It's short, too.

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    Veteran Member James Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by funinspace View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by James Brown View Post
    That's the Old Testament, and their's a long gap between the last chronological book of the Old Testament and the first New Testament book.
    That is true, only if one discounts the Bible used by the RCC, as they have other books like the Maccabees which is much closer to the NT.
    Good point. My Protestant upbringing has me biased.

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