The Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book in the history of the world, though one cannot be sure if this would be true if there are other worlds. What are they reading on Vulcun? The Bible is the best-selling book of all time, and has become an integral part of cultural thinking and cultures think hard. After all, who hasn’t heard phrases like the Good Samaritan, scapegoat, or prodigal son, along with other biblical imagery? Sadly, very few have heard these phrases. Almost nobody, including every writer of the Bible, has heard those phrases. Why? These phrases are in English and the Bible is not written in English.
Apologetic Problem: God would have written the Bible in English if He had more foreknowledge of marketing.
As a kid, I grew up in a home that had a Bible and my mom and dad bought me one for Easter. This might have been disappointing, like Evangelicals who leave a Bible tract as a tip in a restaurant, but they also got me a basket of candy. Sweet. As a teenager, I stayed in hotels that had a Bible in every room. This meant there was always a fall back book to read if I finished my most recent book. I once saw a Bible on a train, another time on a plane! Bibles are here, Bibles are there, you can find a Bible anywhere . . . though in fact, I have never seen a Bible in a box with a fox.
The Bible is often read in college, a young woman I knew did every day. This young woman (now my wife) read the Bible as did many other young women (none now my wife) and numerous young men (none are anybody’s wife). I kept reading the Bible in college where I learned that care needed to be taken in reading. Much harm has been done by trivial readings of this book and some leaders have wrenched it out of context to become tyrants. Godly pastors like my dad were good examples of reading the Bible, but grifters who used the Bible for money and power gave me serious doubts.
Doubting is good, but it seems sad that those who claim to love the Bible would misuse it or not get the education to read it correctly. Over the last few decades teaching through the Bible, my colleagues have reminded me of how easy it is to miss the meaning of the text. For example, I once read or thought in terms of verse-by-verse reading as careful reading of the text, until I learned that verses are not in the original text. They are additions and sometimes break up the message of the Bible.
How about you? Do you have a Bible that does not say “of Barbecue” on the cover? Do you read the Bible or do you use it as pirates did to give out black spots? (See Treasure Island) ? Do you have opinions about the Bible? If not, are you sentient? Literate? Do you have questions about the Bible or does the Bible keep questioning you?
In this parody blog, I hope to question answers about the Bible somebody else asked.
Question #1 – What is the Bible?
Some people think Holy Bible means “Holy Book,” but some people believe Elvis is alive. Anyway, “Holy Book” would be an odd name to give a collection of many books. Imagine calling the seven books of Harry Potter, The Awesome Rowling Book. In fact, the Holy Bible is not called the Holy Bible. The collection of books is called “Bible,” but that is a fairly arbitrary choice, rather like the Turks calling Constantinople “The City” (Istanbul). The Holy was added by the same marketing group that told Italians that Dante did not just write the Comedy, but the Divine Comedy.
The New Testament speaks of the Old Testament as “Scripture.” The Old Testament does not speak of the New Testament, because time travel is a lazy plot device used in bad Star Trek films, though it has been used well in Doctor Who.
The Bible is collection of books and Christians don’t agree how many books are in it. Some, the sort that think only Star Wars IV, V, VI, are canonical, say it contains sixty-six separate books (thirty-nine Old Testament and twenty-seven New Testament). Other fans think that the prequels to the New Testament, called the Apocrypha, count as canon, though they are stylistically inferior. Just as there are quite mad Star Wars fans who trust the JJ Abrams reboot as canon, so we have groups with texts like the Book of Mormon that claim to be sequels to the New Testament. Whatever your view, the Bible isn’t written in English, wasn’t all written at the same time, and has a great many authors.
Authors of the Bible included many different types of folk who shared one common characteristic: they never really monetized their brands. When you consider how famous they became, this mistake was fatal to many careers. Nobody knows much about Habakkuk, but if he had gotten a better media team, then he might have had more than one pretty brief book in the Bible. As it is, he is a wasted chance for fame. Learn from Habakkuk: monetize your brand before your moment passes.
The books of the Bible cover history, sermons, letters, songs, and love letters and so in this way are not unlike the complete Simon and Garfunkel. Learn from this: focus your business on one core theme or you will dilute the marketing possibilities of your ministry. Song of Solomon is good, but we need more sizzle if that is the direction we are going. Chronicles is a game of thrones, but without continuing characters. Somebody in the media team should have told Saint John that III John did not really add anything new. Copying yourself is not really moving the ball down the field.
The Bible covers scores of controversies without media stunts. The Bible became the best-selling book of all time and is available in thousands of languages, but nobody thought to get a decent copyright. This was a mistake as now it can be freely read on the web. Better marketing would have helped make The Bible even bigger. Imagine a free electronic copy of John that was a hook to sell Numbers.
None of the books of the Bible were written on computers, because people did not have them. Because books written in hot and dry conditions tend to build up a thirst, there was a chance for the writers to do some product placement and endorse a good sport’s drink. Perhaps, it is by God’s providence this was not done, so we could explore product connections today. We can do well by doing good and given the climate of the Holy Land, somebody could have done good by endorsing a well.
Incidentally, the various chapter and verse divisions in the Bible often read as if done by a drunk working while riding a horse home from Ye Olde Inne. Chapters are French, a scholar at the University of Paris created them in 1228 and this supports the Pub Theory, because France. The Bible’s current chapter and verse divisions were not fully developed until 1551, the same year England experienced an epidemic of sweating sickness. Any Bertie Wooster trying to win the prize in Bible memorization, or Elsie Dinsmore memorizing for AWANA, knows that verses may have been the cause of the sweating sickness, but so it goes.
When it comes to the Bible, I like to say, “Wow.”
What do Christians believe about the Bible?
If you divide the world by Christians and non-Christians, then it will not surprise you that the two groups have radically different views of Scripture. After all, if you divide the world between circus fans and non-circus fans, then they will have radically different views about the circus. Imagine thinking clowns are funny. Some circus fans do.
A great many people, Christian and non-Christian, say foolish nonsense, not just nonsense, but foolish nonsense about the Bible. This happens because people say nonsense about many things they do not understand and then make it foolish nonsense by adding malicious misogyny to the nonsense.
If you read the Bible for yourself and study the parts that most troubled you, then you can make progress. Imagine farming out this work to somebody else, a ghost writer or researcher, and expecting to make personal progress! In such a process, you might generate content quickly, but it will have no impact on you. The Bible cannot humble you, teach you, and change you, if the hard mental labor is done by someone else. Instead, you might import your own prejudices into the text.