St. Jerome famously said:
“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
He didn’t say which Scripture, and there are people who think reading the New Testament or just the Gospels is enough for the average person in the pew. But you can’t get through even the first chapter of Matthew and understand it without knowing the whole history of Israel from Abraham on, and you can’t possibly understand why Jesus came without knowing what happened at the dawn of history in the Garden of Eden. The “Messiah,” the “anointed one” the Gospels are about, is someone who’s announced and prepared for and yearned for from the beginning of time.
“The New Testament has to be read in the light of the Old,” the Church tells us. “As an old saying put it, the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 129).
If you aren’t familiar with your Bible, even if you’re a faithful, Mass-attending Catholic, let me encourage you to start reading it. Get to know who David is, and Abraham, and all those other people mentioned in Matthew 1. Get to know the action-packed love story that ties all those people together and points to Christ. Learn from their real-life experiences why you can trust God, who Jesus is, and what a difference that makes for you.
If you need some inspiration to get started (or if you want a reason to give thanks!) take a look at how this priest found Jesus in every book of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
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About Sarah Christmyer
Sarah Christmyer is co-developer with Jeff Cavins of The Great Adventure Catholic Bible study program. She is author or co-author of a number of the studies. Sarah has thirty years of experience leading and teaching Bible studies. She helped launch Catholic Scripture Study and is co-author of “Genesis Part I: God and His Creation” and “Genesis Part II: God and His Family,” published by Emmaus Road. Raised in a strong evangelical family, she was received into the Catholic Church in 1992. Sarah also writes at comeintotheword.com.
This blog post first appeared on the Ascension Blog’s former home, The Great Adventure Blog (biblestudyforcatholics.com), on December 12, 2013. It was modified on September 6, 2019.