Book Notes | A Short Guide to Reading the Bible Better

We all know the pattern. It’s now early summer, so New Year’s resolutions have either fizzled out or failed to launch completely. When January motivation runs dry and we’re holding a box of Girl Scout Samoas® instead of a salad, and that closet we determined to keep organized is back to the mayhem from weeks before, we realize yet again that the formation of new habits is hard. Many of these goals are good things, but our “all or nothing” mentality can leave us feeling defeated when we don’t live up to our lofty plans. Oh well, there’s always next year, we think.  

As important as some of these goals may be, there’s one area in the life of a Christian where we can’t afford to fall into this same cyclical pattern. For a believer, Bible reading isn’t a resolution; it’s a daily renewal. While new year goals are never bad things, we all need a guide to help us grow most effectively in the practices that matter most, no matter when we start.

Whether you’re someone looking to begin a Bible reading journey or already have a seasoned discipline of reading through God’s Word, George Guthrie’s A Short Guide to Reading the Bible Better offers thoughtful reflection and practical guidance for anyone wanting to grow in Bible reading.  

The book is broken up into several parts. First, a look at our motivation for reading the Bible. Guthrie says, “Our ‘practice of Bible reading,’ no matter how well intentioned, will not last if our hearts are not addressed first.” He expounds on how to examine your heart before you begin, rather than jumping into another program or box-checking exercise to make you a better Christian. The “heart of the matter” matters. “We will never read well if we merely approach the Bible as a body of literature to be mastered, instead of an invitation to spend time with the Master,” says Guthrie. 

Second, the book talks through the importance of how we read the Bible. He addresses topics such as context, Bible translations, tools that aid in our learning, and genres of literature found in Scripture. As a New Testament Bible professor, Guthrie does an excellent job of talking through elements that help readers in understanding the scope of the Bible and how to navigate the pages with contextual awareness.  

Finally, Guthrie talks about the metanarrative of Scripture and the overarching connection between the Old and New Testament. We’d never drop in the center of another piece of literature and expect to fully understand the implied meaning, but we do it with our reading of the Bible all the time. As believers, reading the Bible in its entirety allows us to see God’s goodness in His story from beginning to end. Guthrie writes, “As we learn the world’s greatest story, we begin to see how the various parts of Scripture fit together and why this Story matters more than any other!” I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss out on that privilege! “The most important way to learn the Bible’s grand Story is by reading the story for yourself. As we read through Scripture, year after year, we gradually begin to see the broader story take shape,” Guthrie writes.   

If you’ve struggled before to make Bible reading a habit, or if you’ve found your daily reading has grown stale or just another task to be completed, A Short Guide to Reading the Bible Better is an excellent resource that offers guidance and encouragement as you jump into God’s Word. I promise—no resolutions required! 

Ashley Veneman serves as a marketing specialist for books for B&H Publishing, an imprint of Lifeway Christian Resources. Ashley and her husband, Justin, have two children and live just outside Memphis, Tennessee, with a cat named Nancy. She holds a BA in Communications from Union University, and an MA in Communication Rhetoric from The University of Memphis.   

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