In this beginner’s guide to the Bible, I’m going to pretend you’re a relative of mine whom I love dearly. But he’s not into spiritual stuff. He’s a science guy.
Still, he tolerates me, and he respects the faith of his wife. But I’m going to imagine he equates it with a hobby. He thinks she goes to church like he goes hunting.
Well, let’s say the Angel Gabriel appears to him one night on TV, interrupting a Kansas City Chief’s football game.
Gabriel says, “Fella, fear not. It’s halftime, so you won’t miss anything. I have a message to you from God. This deer season, keep your long guns in the safe. Grab a Bible and get acquainted with the story of your wife. It’s her story and the story of all Christian people trying to follow the teachings of Jesus. Don’t argue with me. I can do more than interrupt halftime. The Chiefs are going win with a 56-yard field goal in the last 30 seconds. Peace to you.”
I don’t know for certain it would take that much to motivate him to read some of the Bible. All he might really need is getting washed ashore on a deserted island with a football, a Bible, and a bottle of rum.
I’m going to assume you and my most beloved relative are both on board with some curiosity about:
what’s in the Bible
how in the dickens it got there
why on earth anyone should believe it.
It’s good to be a skeptic. It’s healthy. Especially when it comes to the Bible, a collection of writings that some folks come close to worshiping instead of merely reading. The Bible is a collection of ancient and revered writings that Christians say were inspired by God. But it’s not a god.
WHAT’S IN THE BIBLE?
For most Protestants, it’s a collection of 66 books. That includes the Jewish Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament (39 books). Roman Catholics and other branches of the Christian faith add a few more books that, for many scholars, don’t carry the weight of authority that most other Bible books do.
Then there’s the Christian add-on section, written in response to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. It’s called the New Testament (27 books). It begins with four books about Jesus, followed by a short history of how the church got started (the book of Acts), and then mostly letters by Paul to churches and his associate ministers.
How long it would take you to read the Bible depends on how fast you read.
On average, it would take someone a week and a half to read it on the job while the boss is on vacation. And a person who would do that probably should read the Bible.
Breaking it down, here’s how long it takes:
66 hours – at a rate of 200 words per minute (wpm), slower than the average of 250 wpm.
One hour a day, two months. You’d have it done.
30 minutes a day, four months. Done.
Read it while watching a TV show about some veterinarian in rubber boots trudging through muck on farms, then you might as well make some popcorn, too. Done in.
Fun fact: Only about a third of adult Christians say they have read all the Bible.
Well, The Casual English Bible® isn’t convinced that a third of adult Christians have even heard of the Bible book of Habakkuk, let alone read it.
It’s an important book. It was the first tip of a domino-effect that produced the Protestant church. And it contains the statement of faith that inspired the Apostle Paul to write something that later convinced a Roman Catholic monk named Martin Luther to break away from the Catholic church in protest.
That’s what launched the Protestant movement. (See Habakkuk 2:4 and Romans 1:17).
Martin Luther said the Bible teaches we’re saved by putting our faith in Jesus, not by following church rituals.
Putting the Bible’s size in perspective
When someone drops a printed Bible on your lap, first thing you notice is the size. Printed Bibles are thick, usually with a lot of small print.
Let’s say they tossed you a naked Bible—no footnotes, sidebars, or maps. You’re staring into roughly 800,000 words.
No big deal for avid readers. That’s just the length of three novels:
Gone with the Wind (418,053)
Moby Dick (206,052)
The Grapes of Wrath (169,481).
But if you’re a Bible newcomer, you don’t want a naked Bible.
You want a Bible fully dressed—one that will answer at least some of the questions you’ll have along the way.
A well-dressed Bible weighs more than double a naked Bible. So, with a fully dressed Bible you’ll need to add a little more reading, for a total of two million words:
Les Miserables (530,982)
War and Peace (561,304)
To Kill a Mockingbird (100,388).
Or you could read the entire Harry Potter series (1,084,170) twice, like many middle schoolers did.
WHERE SHOULD A BEGINNER START READING THE BIBLE?
Some newcomers are so curious and eager to start reading the Bible that they jump right in, with little idea about where they’re headed. May God be with them if they’re depressed and they think the book of Lamentations will console them.
Other newcomers are skeptical about the Bible but intrigued and ready to discover why there are more Christians in the world than people of any other faith…more than two-and-a-half billion.
Still others simply can’t understand why the Bible is a bestseller and why so many people believe stories goat herders told their children around campfires 3,000 years ago. So, they start reading.
Here’s the first tip for Bible newcomers wondering where to begin:
Before you dive in and start reading
Don’t dive in and start reading.
At least don’t try reading the Bible from front cover to back, like it’s a novel. It’s not.
It’s a library of books.
If you start reading the first book in the Bible’s library—Genesis—you’ll find it interesting enough: Creation, Noah and the Flood, Abraham and Sons, who became the founding fathers of the Jewish nation. That’s one of the finest places to start. But think twice before you read straight through the rest of the Bible after that.
The third book is Leviticus, all you’d never want to know about how to sacrifice animals to God. That’s how some readers react to the book.
If Leviticus doesn’t derail you, the next switch might: Numbers.
The name says it. Census. Counting families and tribes by name. Yet, there are some captivating stories in there, too. One has a talking donkey, ridden by a man who complains the donkey “made me look like a jackass” (Numbers 22:29).
You might want to read those two books someday. But not today. Not if you’re a Bible newcomer dipping your toe in the holy water for the first time.
What Bible book should you read first?
Some Bible study leaders give newcomers a list of recommended Bible books to read first.
They pick the books they want you to read and tell you when it’s time to move to the next book. The schedule looks like an itinerary for a Bible bus tour.
We suggest you consider the scenic route instead. Get out of the bus, walk around, snap a few pictures, take a few notes, and pick a direction.
Pick a book that sounds interesting
Take a quick look at our overview of Bible books (“Beginner’s Guide to all 66 Bible Books”). You’re going to find something that piques your curiosity. Give it a shot. If it doesn’t hold your attention, feel free to jump somewhere else…you’re scouting the Bible for the first time. It’s okay to jump around before settling down to read one of the books from first chapter to last.
Hosea might seem interesting, for example. The prophet says God told him to marry a hooker. Yessir. But when you get past the first couple of chapters, his prophecies of doom for the Jewish nation can get confusing. Even to scholars.
The Bible bus tour would skip that stop.
Jesus is a big attraction
Perhaps most first-time Bible readers go to the books about Jesus.
You can read his story in any one of the four books about him: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The books are tagged as Gospels, an old word that means “Good News.” Jesus preached the “good news about the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 4:23).
Matthew includes the sermon of Jesus that summarizes all his main ideas in one remarkable event: the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew chapters 5-7.
Luke reads like a physician wrote it. Early church writers said Luke was a physician who became an associate of the apostle Paul, a traveling preacher. This is the only Bible book that tells us the story of Jesus’ birth, which you’d expect of a doctor. Luke also reports a lot of Jesus’ healing miracles.
Mark is the shortest and most action-packed story of Jesus. It’s like a bullet list of one Jesus story after another and one miracle after another.
John is the most cerebral of the four. Not much for miracles. Lots of Jesus’ teachings, with deep and layered meanings.
Other popular books for newcomers
Revelation’s end of the world. Some people are curious about end times, so they go to Revelation. We don’t recommend that because the book is so explosively metaphorical that the symbolism can knock a newcomer senseless. It’s tough enough when you know the backstory. Bible scholars still debate what the symbols meant to the first readers.
Many say that the writer was mainly talking about how God was going to punish the vicious Roman Empire, which by that time had destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple. But if you enjoy Roman history and mysteries, Revelation might grab you by the collar.
One tip about Revelation. When you read the word “Babylon,” don’t think of Babylon. That empire had died 500 years before some man named John wrote Revelation. Many scholars say we should read “Rome” into the word. Jews during the time of the Roman Empire used “Babylon” as a code word to talk about the Romans. The Romans earned that nickname when they leveled Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish Temple in AD 70. Babylon had done the same thing in 586 BC.
Ephesians, a happy, practical book. Ephesians is one of the happiest and most practical books in the Bible. It’s not really a book. It’s a letter. Paul wrote it to a church in one of the biggest cities in the Roman Empire: Ephesus, on Turkey’s west coast. Paul didn’t usually stay anywhere more than a few days or weeks. But he stayed at Ephesus three years. His letter to the people reflects that. It sounds like words of advice from a loving and fatherly pastor.
A book for the honeymoon
Song of Songs if you’re on your honeymoon. If you’re feeling romantic, read the Casual English Bible’s paraphrase of the Song of Songs, sometimes called the Song of Solomon. You can’t not enjoy it unless you’re a Puritan bosom.
Heads up, you’ll come away wondering what this Song is doing in the Holy Bible…just as some scholars have wondered for 2,000 years. It doesn’t mention God, but it’s big on touchy feely love. And there’s a lot of touching and feeling going on.
Man in Love:
“Sugar Lips, my bride, I taste honey and sweet milk under your tongue… you are my own personal garden of delight…”
Woman in Love:
“This garden is open for business. Lover, have I got some fruit for you” (Song of Songs 4:11-12; 16).
See what we mean? This book will make you smile. But it also has one of the Bible’s most beautiful expressions of romantic love:
“Keep me close, like a necklace always near your heart, Like a ring always near your touch. Love outmuscles death, It outlasts the grave. Love is a flash fire, Exploding in flames. The fire of that love will never die. Floods can’t quench it. Rivers can’t wash it away. Money can’t buy it” (Song of Songs 8:6-7).
On the other hand, money bought Delilah, Samson’s ex-girlfriend. She sold him out to the Philistines for a reward of what sounds like her weight in silver. That story’s in the book of Judges, chapter 16, verse 5.
History books. Which brings up one last consideration. If you love history, consider reading some of the books of history, such as Judges. The books are full of engaging stories.
If you’re curious about the oldest stories in the Bible—God creating the world, then flooding the world—jump to Genesis, first book in the Bible.
Here’s how they usually do it. They grab a few words and take them out of context. We could call it cherry picking because they pick the cherries they want, and they leave the buggy ones for the birds.
Then they’ll take the word personally, as though the writer was describing their situation.
Normally, Bible writers weren’t writing about us. Sometimes they were. Jesus even prayed for us—for all his future followers.
“Now I’m praying for future believers—those who will believe in me because of what these people will say about me” (John 17:20).
But the Bible isn’t always about us. In fact, it’s usually about someone else, though the principles will often apply to us.
Getting it wrong: personal example
Here’s a personal example of taking the Bible out of context. I was paraphrasing Psalm 91 when I got word that doctors were going to try to wean my little brother off the ventilator. He had COVID-19. My brother’s wife had been reading that chapter as a promise from the Bible that God would heal her husband.
A few lines might help you see why she latched onto that song someone wrote perhaps 3,000 years ago. It was an easy mistake to make.
“I look to the LORD and tell him, ‘You are my safe house and my storm shelter. You are my God, and I trust you with all that I am.’
A thousand may die near you. Ten thousand may fall at your side. But you remain safe and untouchable…
I will give you a good, long life So you’ll see what it’s like to be saved by God.”
The patient died
My brother died after about a month on the vent. A torturous end.
I had to deal with the clash between my family’s tragedy and the Bible’s hopeful words, which many Christians say came from God himself.
How are those promising lyrics honest to God and relevant to me as I prepared to call my mother and tell her that I’m the last of her four sons?
Though I can find the words inspiring, they weren’t written for me. A songwriter long ago was saying thank you to God. And the writer did it with poetry.
Once we recognize that, the words can comfort us in the context of Christianity today, after the death and resurrection of Jesus. He gave those words new meaning.
“I will give you a good, long life”? What life is longer than eternal life?
“You’ll see what it’s like to be saved by God?” The Christian’s great hope is that God saves us from death and rescues us for the life to come.
Check out the video about this story: “I fought Psalm 91 while my brother fought COVID.”
There’s a cool follow-up video. It’s a little out there, but every bit of the story is true and not exaggerated or some kind of weird metaphor. It happened.
The right way to read the Bible
The best way to read the Bible is same way we listen to people talk when they have something important to say.
Listen hard to what the writer is saying. Pay attention. This isn’t your wife talking about penuckle party favors or your boyfriend talking about his new hunting boots. This is a book with relevant life-changing ideas that show up in all major religions. It’s messages are that important.
Think about it. Use your brain. Don’t let others think for you or guilt you into saying you think like they do. That’s stinken’ thinkin’. Bible newcomers don’t have to believe what they read. It’s good to be skeptical because it suggests you’re thinking. But don’t push it.
Old Testament God
Here’s what I’m talking about. If you’re reading Old Testament stories, you’re going to come across a lot harsh words attributed to God that don’t sound like they came from any good Father of Jesus. Example: Moses tells the Israelites God wants them to wipe out all the Canaanite people living in the land the Israelites were going to invade—land that later became Israel:
“After you defeat them in battle, wipe them out by killing them all. Don’t make any peace treaty with them. Don’t show them mercy” (Deuteronomy 7:2).
You’re allowed to say, “That doesn’t sound like my kind of God.” Christians should be able to talk about that and agree to disagree, because they will disagree.
Some will make a case for what others would call genocide.
But folks on the flipside of tradition-minded Christianity would start quoting Jesus, the 10 Commandments, and their sweet Aunt Bertha. And they might wonder out loud if the Bible story got a little too juiced in the retelling generation after generation, before someone finally wrote it down and captured a version of it.
Open your head to new ideas. Lay down the welcome mat instead of oppressive fire. When we take a defensive posture, it’s hard to hear the other side because we’re on a mission to protect the king. And we’re the king.
It’s normal to defend our position. But it’s wise to listen, too.
Chase the truth. Truth has taken a hit in recent years. We’ve had a lot of national leaders obsessed with “controlling the narrative,” as they put it. That means lying. Good journalists, by nature, by calling, and by job description, chase the truth. Some money-minded publishers might order them to do otherwise, but most journalists I’ve known chose their career because they wanted honest answers. I did the same as a young news journalist.
Christians chase the truth, too. Jesus called himself the Truth. “I am the way…the truth…the life. If you want to get to the Father, I’m the one who’ll take you there” (John 14:6).
A little poetic sidebar
Bible poetry doesn’t rhyme But it doubles up on reason
Hebrew poetry doesn’t rhyme like many English poems do. Not as far as scholars say they are able to tell.
Instead, the Hebrew words often repeat themselves.
The first line will say something. And the next line will say it again another way, maybe almost identically, maybe in contrast, or sometimes simply by adding to the idea.
“The LORD is my shepherd. There’s nothing more I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows. He leads me beside calm waters” (Psalm 23:1-2).
Scholars call the poetic technique “parallelism.”
ARE THERE MISTAKES IN THE BIBLE?
A lot of Christians say the Bible is inerrant. Error-free. In the ancient original documents, if not today.
Many others say they’ve read the Bible carefully, and it’s loaded with obvious mistakes. That includes some of the math in the book of Numbers, in the census reports that Moses reported.
Maybe the Bible was error-free in the original copies, some would grant. But many Christians say they doubt it. They base their doubts on the imperfect nature of human beings, who seem universally gifted at screwing up from time to time. And they base it on the way God seemed to work his inspiration. Though he sometimes made prophets quote him, he usually seemed to let them deliver his messages in their own words, just as preachers do today.
That could explain the dramatically different writing styles in the Bible.
The Gospel of Mark, the story of Jesus, is short and choppy. Job, the story of a man who lost his family, flocks, and home, is long and majestic—some of the most eloquent literature in the Bible.
Still, other Christians say God can write in more than one style. And he doesn’t make mistakes.
To which some truth-chasing Christians might say, “How do you know? You’ve never even met The Guy.” And the discussion begins.
Can we trust the Bible in our hands?
This is the important question.
It seems a waste of time to debate whether the Bible was ever infallible, some say, because all we have are the fallible copies of today. They are not the originals. Or the second generation. Or the third. Only God would know how many generations we’re removed from the originals.
We do, however, have an old copy of the entire Book of Isaiah, found in the famous Dead Sea Scrolls and dated to the 100s BC. But even that is 500 years after the prophet Isaiah’s time.
Oldest piece of the New Testament
The oldest copy of anything surviving from the New Testament is a tiny piece of the Gospel of John, from roughly AD 125, about 100 years after Jesus. There are many other fragments and larger pieces of John and other New Testament books dated from the AD 200s.
So, we’re counting on some accuracy from scribes, writers, and editors copying worn-out scrolls, generation after generation.
Here’s the surprise: those people entrusted with protecting the accuracy of the Bible documents proved their worth.
When we compare ancient Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament and Greek copies of the New Testament spanning centuries, there’s very little deviation. Occasional extra verses or chapters. But the core message is solid.
The Isaiah scroll from 100+BC is the same as other Isaiah scrolls copied generation after generation throughout the ancient Middle East, with minor exceptions.
We might not know how accurate the storytellers were before the words were written, but once written, the words stood like some kind of never-eroding Rock of Ages.
WHERE DID THE BIBLE COME FROM?
When you crack open a Bible and start flipping through it, you realize there are two main sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. Each section contains a collection of standalone books. And the books are divided into chapters and verses. Those were added later to make it easier to talk about where to find something in the Bible.
The first Bible
Jews call it the Torah (TOR uh), meaning “to teach.” Christians call it “The Law.” These were earliest writings to earn a place of sacred respect among Jews. They were the stories and teachings traditionally credited to Moses.
There were no bylines. We don’t know Moses wrote these first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. But there is a long tradition recognizing Moses as the source of the books containing the Jewish rules to live by.
The Bible of Jesus
These books begin the collection of writing that the Jews call The Bible. Christians call it the Old Testament. Some Christians prefer the “First Testament.” They argue that “Old” Testament suggests it’s obsolete and irrelevant. It’s not. This is the Bible Jesus used. Some of his most famous quotes come from the Old Testament.
“You’ve got to love the Lord your God with all the heart you’ve got in you…
You have to love your neighbor every bit as much as you love yourself” Matthew 22:37-38).
Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18.
This is the Bible the Apostle Paul was talking about when he said,
“All of scripture is God’s way of talking to us. It’s good for us to use scripture when we’re teaching people, or when we need to correct them, help them, or give them advice about how to live and how to nurture spiritual integrity. Scripture helps give God’s people what they need, so they can do the good work they’ll be doing” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
How we got the Old Testament
How we got the Old Testament is, to a great extent, a mystery.
And, some of the oldest stories come from sources dating back to the time of Moses, roughly 1400-1200 BC and even to the time of Abraham, roughly 2000 BC. But the Hebrew language—which writers used for the Old Testament—didn’t even exist until around 1000 BC, the time of King David.
Scholars theorize that those ancient ancestors of today’s Jewish people passed the stories and teachings along mostly by word of mouth. But then King David came along. And he finally secured the boundaries of Israel, for the first time in history. So, leaders started thinking about their nation’s legacy. And, they started writing the story of their nation.
Jews didn’t sit down one day and decide to compile all these stories and teachings into a sacred Jewish Bible of 39 different books. That process took centuries, most scholars agree.
Books of Law came first
Genesis: stories of Creation, Noah and the Flood, and the founders of the Jewish nation: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Exodus: Moses leads Israelite ancestors of Jews to freedom from slavery in Egypt.
Leviticus: Laws about how to worship God with sacrifices and obedience to his rules.
Numbers: Israelites disobey God one too many times, and he sentences them to 40 years in the badlands.
Deuteronomy: The disobedient generation of Israelites dies. Moses will die, too. But first he teaches the laws to the new generation.
Prophecy books came next, then Writings like Psalms
As the centuries rolled on, Jews continued passing along their stories and teachings. Prophets came along with messages from God in visions and dreams. And the Jews later added songs, poems, parables, fresh stories, and the wisdom one-liners of Proverbs, many of which would nicely fit in a fortune cookie.
Jews make final selections for their Bible
It’s unclear when the Jews settled on what writings to include in their Bible. Some scholars guess the Jews settled on the books sometime after AD 70. That’s when the Roman Empire crushed a Jewish revolt and destroyed the Temple and much of Jerusalem. That ended the Jewish sacrificial system. Jewish law limited sacrifices to the Temple. No Temple, no sacrifices. Priests were out of a job.
Decades later, they began worshiping together by reading their Bible as sacrificial gifts to God in the form of prayers.
300 years in the making
It took about 300 years before a majority of church leaders agreed on which writings deserved a place in the Christian’s Holy Bible. Qualifications: written by apostles or their close associates; widely recognized among churches as messages from God; in line with traditional Christian teachings.
How did we get the New Testament?
Old Testament prophets predicted there was coming a time when God would tear up his agreement with the Jewish people and start over.
“The Lord said: The time will surely come when I will make a new agreement with the people of Israel and Judah. It will be different from the agreement I made with their ancestors when I led them out of Egypt. Although I was their God, they broke that agreement.
Here is the new agreement that I, the Lord, will make with the people of Israel
I will write my laws on their hearts and minds. I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Jeremiah 31:31-33).
At the time of Jesus, many Jews seemed to believe that this radical change would take place when God sent a Messiah, a champion King much like King David. They expected him to chase off the Romans who were occupying their homeland and restore Israel’s freedom and sovereignty.
Yet when Jesus came, with his power to heal and his fresh and more compassionate way of understanding Jewish teachings, crowds began to believe he was that Messiah.
Jesus, the surprising Messiah
Jesus surprised them with his brand of “Messiah.” Jews wanted a warrior king, but they got a pacifist rabbi. That’s called a curveball.
The Bible teaches that Jesus was the Messiah, but his kingdom was not of this world. Instead, Jesus came to prepare people for his kingdom in life after death.
He taught that God’s spirit can live within us as part of who we are. He told his followers:
“I’m going to ask the Father to send you another Spiritual Guide who will be with you all the time. The Father will do this. You’ll have this Spirit to teach you the truth…He will live inside you as part of you” (John 14:16-17).
Jesus ministered perhaps only three years, starting in about A.D. 27. Many believed in him because of his teachings and his miracles. But it wasn’t until his death and resurrection that his disciples finally realized he did not intend to become a king like David.
Fearless, after seeing Jesus rise from the dead, they began teaching people what Jesus had taught them. Most of them died as martyrs because of it, according to early Christian writers.
How stories and letters made the cut to the New Testament
No one sat down to write the New Testament. Instead, writers decided to compile the stories and teachings of Jesus while there were still eyewitnesses of Jesus alive. Church leaders wanted to preserve the stories so people wouldn’t forget them. The stories of Jesus reported in the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were quickly embraced by churches, copied, and passed along to read in worship services.
Leaders like Peter and Paul wrote letters to churches throughout the Roman Empire, teaching them about how to live the Christian life.
Those letters were cherished by the churches, copied, and circulated to other churches everywhere. In time, those writings grew to become revered. People recognized them as exceptional and inspired by God.
The Roman Empire opposed Christianity at first and slaughtered many Christians in the Coliseum and arenas throughout the empire. But in the early 300s, Emperor Constantine had some kind of spiritual experience. He adopted Christianity as the empire’s preferred religion.
The church organizes
Christians became organized and church leaders met periodically to talk about the Christian movement. They sometimes hotly debated what writings should be considered authoritative and inspired.
So, church councils eventually agreed that everything in the New Testament needed to meet these minimum qualifications:
written by apostles or their close associates
widely recognized among churches as messages from God
in line with traditional Christian teachings.
They agreed on the 27 books that make up the library of the New Testament.
Eastertime in AD 367 was the first time those 27 books showed up in any kind of a list, as far as historians are able to discover. A Bishop named Athanasius included them in a letter he sent to church leaders.
A majority of church leaders and later councils agreed. But some church leaders debated the matter and wanted to include other writings. And some still do.
What to say when someone asks, “Do you believe the Bible?”
If you’re a Bible newcomer, you could answer, “I don’t know, I haven’t read it all.”
My favorite answer is a question. Jesus often answered questions by asking a question.
I might ask the person, “Do you believe the Library of Congress?”
Or a Brit could ask, “Do you believe the British Library?””
Or a French guy or gal could ask, “Croyez-vous à la Centre Pompidou?”
The Bible is a library, too.
Most Christians would likely say the Bible contains some reliable history. Archaeology and other discoveries substantiate some stories in the Bible and confirm names of people.
The name and job title of Pilate, Roman governor who ordered the execution of Jesus, showed up chiseled in stone at the Israeli city of Caesarea. Rome turned that seaside town into their regional HQ.
The Bible also contains poems and songs and parables, many of which are not intended to be taken literally. Most prophecies are written as poetry, too.
So, some of what the Bible writers said is symbolic, metaphorical, or hyperbole. It’s not intended for us to take literally or as history.
“Do you believe the Bible?” is the wrong question, some Christians argue.
We shouldn’t believe everything in a library. Not everything is intended to be believed as fact.
If you’re interested in Bible geography, here’s a link to our powerful Bible map search engine dedicated to instantly finding just the right map from among about a thousand.
You can read and compare dozens of Bible versions along with Bible study resources at Bible Gateway. The site allows you to run parallel columns for easy comparison. But you won’t yet find the Casual English Bible there. That’s because we’re still a work in progress.