Did you get a chance to watch our Bible Reading is Broken, and It’s Not Your Fault broadcast earlier this month? In it, we talked with the Institute for Bible Reading to find out why it can be so challenging to read the Bible—and how you can do a few simple things to make your Bible reading easier.
If you missed it when it was broadcast live, you can watch it here:
The discussion touches on just a few of the ways that Bible reading has become more challenging for everyday readers than it needs to be. The good news is that overcoming some of these challenges is very easy, especially with an online tool like Bible Gateway!
Here are two simple ways you can make your Bible easier to read:
1. Choose Whether to Show Verse Numbers, Footnotes, and Other “Extra Stuff”
One of the things mentioned as a source of trouble for some Bible readers is the “extra” stuff that we’ve added to our Bible texts: verse numbers, passage headings, footnotes, etc. These elements are found in almost every Bible, but were not in the original Bible texts. They were added by Bible translators and publishers over the centuries to make it easier to study and organize the massive Bible text—without them, advanced Bible study or scholarship would be much more difficult. But they can also be unintentionally distracting for some readers.
The good news is that this is a very easy situation to fix! At Bible Gateway, you have complete control over the text annotations that appear in your Bible text. To choose which elements appear in your Bible reading, look for the gear-shaped icon above and to the right of Bible text on Bible Gateway:
This text display options menu lets you toggle on/off annotations like verse numbers, headings, footnotes, and more. You might be surprised what a difference it can make to add/remove a few of these elements. Removing verse numbers, for example, makes the Bible text read more like a letter or a novel. (And when you want them back for your Bible study, you can always easily add them back in with the options menu.) Give it a try and see what combination of text elements works best for you!
(Note that not every Bible includes every text feature—so to see red lettering or footnotes, you need to be reading a Bible that includes them.)
2. Take a Different Path Through the Bible
Another surprisingly effective way to make the Bible more accessible is simply to read through it in a different order. The Bible is organized the way it is for good reason, but as many would-be Bible readers have learned, the way Bible books are commonly ordered does not make for the easiest cover-to-cover reading experience. If you’ve started reading the Bible but given up after hitting a slow or difficult-to-understand stretch (maybe you bogged down in Leviticus or one of the other early Bible books), you’re not alone! The Bible isn’t like a novel—starting at page 1 and reading straight through to the end isn’t necessarily the best way to experience it.
The good news is that there are other ways to approach the Bible that bypass a lot of those challenges. What are these other approaches? We call them Bible reading plans, and there’s a huge library of them to choose from.
Each reading plan provides a roadmap for reading the Bible that emphasizes a different Bible experience. Some reading plans direct you to read just certain sections of the Bible, carefully chosen to introduce you to particular Bible themes. Some introduce you to Bible passages that fit a particular season of the year, like Easter or Christmas. Others walk you through the entire Bible text, but eschew the cover-to-cover approach in favor of reading the Bible books in chronological order, or thematic order, or other options.
Reading plans are easy to use, and the right reading plan will revolutionize the way you approach the Bible. Visit our reading plan library to see what’s available, and choose the one that’s right for you! Our reading plans can be used online or via email—whichever is easiest for you.
These are just two simple ways you can change the way you read Scripture. These strategies don’t change the actual text of the Bible, nor is it “right” or “wrong” to read Scripture with or without (for example) verse numbers. But if you’ve been struggling to read the Bible regularly, it’s worth experimenting to see what combination of text options and reading plans helps you connect most deeply with God’s Word!