Seriously. Skip the genealogies in much of the Old Testament and the endless reams of law in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Read instead the stories in Genesis and those books, especially in Genesis and Exodus.
Don’t read creation like a scientific document. Read it with wonder. Imagine, at least, the concept underlying it all: God made stuff from non-stuff. That’s a cool thing. Also cool: Abraham. Goes from Ur, becomes a nomad, does some dumb stuff in Egypt, does some cool stuff, meets Melchizedek (an enigmatic figure if ever there was one). And then Jacob and his tricksiness. And Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. That’s just Genesis.
Exodus has all that sweet, sweet Moses stuff. Plagues, parting the Red Sea, manna, quail, seeing the Glory of Yahweh, the Ten Commandments, all that stuff. Sweet.
Other cool stories in the Bible: that lady in Judges who puts a tent peg through a guy’s temple, Gideon, Samson, David and Goliath, David on the Run from Crazy Jealous Saul, Solomon Builds the Temple, the Destruction of Sennacherib, Nehemiah, Ezra, Esther, Ruth. And everything Jesus ever did: the birth narratives, chillin’ in the Temple at age 12, miracles, teachings, calling disciples, casting moneychangers out of the Temple, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension.
I’m not asking you to take these stories literally, O Biblically Illiterate People! I ask you only to read them. And see that they’re pretty good stories. Maybe find a moral or two. Maybe see what the nature of the God of the Bible is.
Other cool stuff in the Bible: the Psalms. They’re sweet poetry full of cool stuff. Proverbs: Good advice. Job: An interesting tale there with some great passages and vibrant imagery. The Prophets: hard to get through a lot of the time, but some great stories as well as some insight into the character of God and how the people of Israel saw themselves — not for the faint of heart. The Book of Revelation.
Check it out. It’s full of good stories, good advice, good teaching. You probably won’t get it all, but it’s worth reading.
Next part of my thoughts on the Bible for the biblically illiterate: How do you start to read this book?