The Christian Bible is long but the more times you read it – and the more of it you read – the more it makes sense. Yet it is more book than you could understand in a lifetime.
Even if you do not believe it is the Word of God it is still worth reading if you want to understand Westerners or Christians. Too much has been built on it. Besides, no other book has been read by more Westerners, from country to country and from age to age.
It is a long book so you cannot read it in a weekend. You need a schedule and stick to it through thick and thin. Set apart a certain time every day or every week to read it. Large stretches of the Bible are extremely boring, like Leviticus, other parts make little sense, like Isaiah, and some are both, like Ezekiel. But you just got to push on and stick to it all the way to the end, to the last Amen. It is worth it because the Bible will make so much more sense that way.
An excellent example of that are the animal sacrifices it goes on and on about. It was how the Jews made things right with God back in the old days. You think, “Why am I reading this?” But then, of course, when you get to the part where Christ dies on the cross you see why.
Or: You read about how the Jews on the night of the first Passover put lamb’s blood above their doors so the angel of death would pass over their houses. Then later Jesus, the Lamb of God, saves believers with his blood. At Passover time.
It is better and deeper and has more layers of meaning than what anyone would have made up.
Before I read the Bible I thought it was just a pack of lies, the Jewish counterpart to the old Greek stories of gods and heroes. Its truth, if any, was at best allegorical, like in a fairy tale. But having just read some communist histories of China I saw that it was not quite that simple.
Ideological histories make everything clean, they throw out the shameful parts and the parts that do not seem to fit. The Bible does not do that. It is as matter of fact about the parting of the Red Sea as it is about evil queens and genocide.
The part that sold me was the Golden Calf. Right after God had saved the Jews from the Egyptians with the plagues, the parting of the Red Sea and all that, they did what? They turned on him. They returned to their old idol-worshipping ways they learned in Egypt. It is not what you would expect, it is not what a made-up history would have put, and yet once you read it you know down in your bones that that is just the way it would go.