The Bible

My view on the Bible is pretty simple. It is a complicated book. It is commonly acknowledged that the collection of books we know as the Bible was written by about 40 authors over a 1,500 year period. The books cover history, law, poetry, and prophesy. It is not an easy read. Some of it is literal, historical narrative; some is poetic and allegorical. Some of it reads more like a fast-paced novel than a holy book. Some of it is mystical and symbolic. There are long stretches, in some books, of nothing but listings of tribes of ancient Israel and family genealogies. Some subjects of great relevance, on the other hand, are handled in a few sentences. 

I have read the Bible in its entirety, though not like my spouse, who has read it through from Genesis to Revelation, verse-by-verse, two or three times.  I preferred the "Swiss Cheese" method. I read the New Testament first, the foundational books of the Old Testament, then finished with the books that were least interesting to me. 

One all-important question is whether the Bible is just a collection of ancient writings pieced together by superstitious people, or the inspired Word of God.  Has it been tampered with over the centuries?  I did a college term paper on the origins of the New Testament for a class at a secular university. From that, I would conclude that the Bible has been influenced by church politics, The books we understand to be the Bible were selected over several hundred years, with some books being omitted from today's Bible and others being included over objections.  

There are also other factors in the accuracy of the Bible.  Obviously, translation from the original languages is a possible point of failure.  Not only the words have to be rendered into new languages, but expressions and cultural understandings have to be communicated.  So, were there mistakes made?

I believe that anything handled by humans, who are fallible, has the possibility of being corrupted or misinterpreted. I acknowledge that there is the possibility that we have missed something or lost something in the translation. I think there is the possibility that we may have more revelations about the Scriptures, as many new manuscripts and fragments of manuscripts have been discovered since the early English translations, such as the King James translation, were discovered.  Then too, we are still learning about the ancient cultures from which the Bible originated. So, maybe that will shed new light on some cryptic passages. 

My studies have convinced me that the translations are as accurate and as honest as possible. What first appears as a hopeless mess of mixed styles and purposes, becomes surprisingly unified and consistent when one studies it consistently, over time. What may seem like a loose end in one passage, will be explained chapters, or even books later. The Bible is so true to human nature, and so willing to acknowledge the faults and failures of even its heroes, it seems impossible to me that it was contrived from imagination. 

I do not believe that church politics, translational inaccuracies, and the like can materially corrupt what God has communicated to us through the Bible.  I know enough about church history and world history to know that those have had motive and opportunity to change what we have received. But, in the end, it comes down to faith. My faith says that we have a Bible that is reliable and sufficient to guide us to an understanding of God.  I don't believe we worship the Bible; but without something to serve as a standard, we are basically each making up our own religion. By choosing which parts of it we deem truth and which we deem error, we have no assurance and no certainty. It is no wonder those who find its truths inconvenient and a hindrance to their personal preferences, would seek to discredit it. So, for me, I have no trouble believing that God has had His hand in insuring what I read is sufficient as a guide for life and a trustworthy source about His nature and His requirements of me.

 

 

 

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