Choose a version you can read and understand.

This might sound maybe a little bit too obvious, but it is not. Unless you know Hebrew and Greek, or Latin, you want to stick to your English translation of the Bible. But, alas, one of the most popular English translations of the Bible — the King James Version — dates back to 1611 and does not follow the Catholic canon. Some more recent versions might be more readable for contemporary readers, and may include devotionals, footnotes, and other interesting resources. You might want to try the Catholic edition of the Revised Standard Version.

Write things down. Take notes.

Some people don’t shy away from highlighting passages in their Bibles, using sticky notes or writing on the margins of their Bibles (as medieval monks actually did with manuscripts). All these are surely good habits, as long as one is actually getting something out of them. However, most people recommend not only highlighting or underlining but actually copying the passages we find more interesting, troubling, or inspiring in a separate notebook: writing and thinking are like processes.

Read to yourself. Out loud.

It’s a fact: some people learn better through sound than trough reading or writing. It is for a reason the Bible is read aloud in Mass. But if you think reading to yourself might be a tad too eccentric, then you can try reading your Bible in family, or among friends, or in a domestic bible study group. This is a good way to improve your Bible comprehension skills, as teaching others is always a learning process as well. But if this is still impractical — for whatever reason — why not trying listening to an audiobook version of the Bible?


Ask God to help you understand. Before you start reading, or while you are at it, ask God to teach you, to open your mind and heart — studying is not only an intellectual task, but also an affective one — and to direct your intellect so you can discover the many treasures hiding in plain sight in Scripture. This advice applies even if you are not a believer but still want to get acquainted with the Bible: a few moments of silence and recollection can indeed help you set the tone you need to approach the task at hand.