As a Catholic newbie, getting to know the Bible was high on my priority list, and I do feel like I’m light years ahead of where I started two to three years ago. Simply going to mass weekly (if not daily) and reading the daily readings, as well as subscribing to FlockNote’s free daily Gospel emails has helped me get familiar with some key stories, especially the New Testament.
But all this reading the Bible in bits and pieces, while it has its place and is wonderfully meaningful in itself, makes it difficult to consider the Bible in context and take a look at the bigger picture. What is the overall story of the Bible and how does it play out from the Old Testament to the New Testament?
I picked up a book from Lighthouse Media recently called Bible Basics for Catholics by John Bergsma that gives a wonderful big picture look at what the Bible is trying to convey from start to finish. And this book was incredibly eye-opening for me (and a quick read, I might add!).
While the Catholic Church does a great job with the readings of the day in selecting Old Testament verses that relate to New Testament verses to show you the parallel, this book really brought many of those similarities, comparisons and foreshadowing examples to light in a wonderfully simplistic summary. The author even uses stick figure drawings to help you visualize the progression of the Bible.
So, what’s the Bible all about? Hector Molina says it’s really a love story, a love story between God and his people. Bergsma shows you how this “love story” really plays out as a “covenant story.” The Bible, in one way, is really the story of God making various convenants with his people, who so sadly break them time and time again. Jesus brings us the final, once and for all, covenant, and in fact, He is the convenant itself.
I know you probably knew this convenant idea already, but what this book does it show you how Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets and more all foreshadow Jesus, and it reveals many of the signs, symbols and passages that prefigure Jesus’ coming. The book also provides a historical context, considers the meanings of the original Greek words and truly brings a depth of meaning unlike anything I’ve yet to read.
As one example, did you know that at the traditional Jewish Passover Jews would drink four cups of wine? At the Last Supper, Jesus only drinks three cups of wine, according to the Gospels. But he completes the Passover ceremony on the cross when he tastes of the bitter wine offered to him, making it the new Passover and completing the convenant.
Remember when Jesus said he would not taste the fruit of the vine again until the Kingdom of God comes, yet tastes it on the cross? This always thoroughly confused me. Have you ever considered he drank of the wine then to signal the Kingdom of God had come? This is the kind of cool stuff that you’ll learn.