A Long Road, Part 1

What is the Bible, and where did it come from? Answers abound in regard to these two questions, but the truth…that’s something that is often lost upon us today. In pursuit of that notion, let’s take a moment to get better acquainted with this marvelous work.

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” Isaiah 40:8

I will be abundantly clear from the start: no matter what you may have heard to the contrary, no matter what preconception you bring with you now, the Bible is not a book but rather a library. Our modern idea of the Bible being a single book no doubt stems from the practice of encapsulating the many individual written works, poems, and letters of Scripture within a single printed volume. Originally though, the individual components of the Bible were maintained as scrolls or other texts. It was later that we began binding those individual writings into larger groupings. The word “Bible,” the very name for our Holy Book, is itself reflective of this practice, coming from the Greek for “books.”

Have you ever been part of a group tasked with accomplishing a goal or seeing a particular work carried out? For those who have, a simple reality reveals itself rapidly: the more individuals in a group or on a committee, the more opinions there are, and this ultimately means more difficulty in seeing unity on a matter. Now, for just a moment imagine how difficult it would be to have perhaps as many as ten individuals – who all shared a similar socio-economic background – to write in agreement about a number of ideas and circumstances. It would be nearly impossible, I’m sure you would agree, to have these ten similar people happily agree on every point, right? That said, the Bible is composed of sixty-six books, the sum total of 1189 chapters made up of the writings of some forty authors over the course of approximately two thousand years. Forty separate authors writings at different times over the course of perhaps two-thousand years!

What’s more, these were not forty men who shared a similar lifestyle and social status. No. Some were simple fishermen. Some were shepherds. Others were politicians, warriors, priests, historians, physicians. Some poor, others wealthy. Some resided in rural backwaters, others lived in thriving metropolises of the ancient world, and others still wrote their works from the dark recesses of prison. These were diverse men with different backgrounds, yet each of them – as revealed by the Scriptures – wrote on matters that shared an incontrovertible theme, on issues that saw perfect agreement, and in such a way as to convey details that were not even obvious until the advent of modern computing! Many of these men never knew each other, and thus never had the opportunity to “get their stories straight,” yet through the Bible – and vindicated by history itself – they wrote in a way that is, for lack of a better word, transcendental!

“A Long Road” continues next time…

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