Understanding the Bible

A Guide to Reading the Scriptures

Course instructors considering a book for adoption will be provided a complimentary copy.
Digital Books

About This Book


Designed for College Students Taking Biblical Studies Courses

Understanding the Bible: A Guide to Reading the Scriptures will inform your reading and enrich your understanding of the Bible from historical, literary, and faith perspectives. It is ideal for use regardless of your background, your beliefs, your questions, or the Bible translation you are reading.

Inside are articles that explore the Bible in its faith, historical, and cultural contexts. The Bible is looked at as literature too—its genres and literary forms. There are articles introducing the Old and New Testaments, specifically the Pentateuch, the Historical Books, the Wisdom and Poetry Books, the Prophets, the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, the Letters, and Revelation. The history and differences of translations are discussed, and other tools to help you unlock the Bible are introduced. Additional aids include maps, charts, a time line, and a glossary. Together these aids further investigate the Bible and the world in which it was written, as well as the progression of scholarship that helps us understand the Bible today.


Weight 0.2 lbs
Dimensions 5.375 × 1.5 × 8.25 in


Print ISBN




Item # 7017

Table of Contents


Reading and Studying the Bible
What Is the Bible?
Understanding Genres and Literary Forms
Understanding the Bible in Its Historical and Cultural Contexts
Understanding the Bible within the Living Tradition of the Catholic Church
English Translations of the Bible
Reading the Bible: Tools for Understanding

Understanding the Major Sections of the Bible
The Old Testament
Introduction to the Pentateuch
Introduction to the Historical Books
Introduction to the Wisdom and Poetry Books
Introduction to the Prophets
The New Testament
Introduction to the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles
Introduction to the Letters and Revelation

The Names of God in the Old Testament
Canons of Scripture
The Historical Critical Method of Scripture Analysis
Sacred Time: Festivals, Feasts, and Fasts That Mark Biblical Events
Numbers and Their Significance in the Bible
Deities of the Greco-Roman Empire
Deities of the Ancient Middle East
Colors and Their Significance in the Bible
Expanded Timeline of Biblical History

Map 1: The Kingdom Years
Map 2: The Assyrian Empire
Map 3: The Babylonian Empire
Map 4: The Ministry of Jesus
Map 5: The Holy Land in Modern Times

Alphabetical List of Bible Books with Abbreviations Used in This Guide
Glossary of Biblical and Related Terms


Professional Reviews

Saint Mary’s Press has engaged several authors and editors in the preparation of this small volume. It contains short introductory essays that explain both literary and historical aspects of the Bible, various translations, and the role played by the Bible in the Catholic Church. It then provides basic information about the major sections of the Bible: the Pentateuch, Historical Books, Wisdom and poetic books, the Prophets, the Gospels and Acts, the Letters and Revelation. Eleven pages of very helpful explanatory charts and four maps of the ancient world contribute to its usefulness. A seventeen-page glossary of important terms brings the book to a close. The book is meant as a guide for the college student. However, it will also prove to be valuable for the nontechnical adult Bible reader.

The Bible Today
March 2009

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