Why did the Bible become so popular around the world? How did this happen?
The Bible is the bestselling book of all time. Nothing even comes close. The Old Testament has been around a very long time and even though it is restricted to mainly Orthodox Jews today and a few Jewish converts but of itself, it doesn’t compare with the present day Bible that contains both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Bible is not only the bestselling book of all time, it is the bestselling book every year!  The very year that Harry Potter maxed out in sales, the Bible still outsold Harry Potter. How many Bibles have been sold over its history? No one knows for sure but most believe it is anywhere from between 2.5 billion to 6 billion.
Since we already know for sure that the Bible is the bestselling book of all time and bestseller every year, you would expect it to be the most read, and it is. Almost 1/3rd of the planet claims to read their Bible at least once a week. There is no other book of the planet or in human history that can touch the volume of the number of pages that have been read or the number of books sold than the Bible. It is head and shoulders above the next bestselling book which was Mao’s Little Red Book which sold from between 800 and 900 million copies. That many copies might have been sold but I wonder how many of these pages did the Chinese citizens actually read?
Among all the books of antiquity, none has stronger manuscript support than does the Bible. We have over 5,600 Greek manuscripts from the New Testament that were written within the first 100 years of the originals. This ensures a 99.5% textual accuracy so we can know that what we read in the Bible today is what they read then as circulated letters (the gospels or the epistles). The slight differences are grammatical and not doctrinal. One verse might have “Jesus Christ” while another has it “Christ Jesus” but the context is never affected and neither is the biblical doctrine of salvation. The plain things (John 3:16) are the main things (Acts 4:12) and so the main things are not affected by translations. The New Testament manuscript base is over 24,000 and completely dominates those manuscripts of Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Caesar and Tacitus combined!
Hope for a Future
Why is the Bible still so popular? What has it always been so popular? It is because it gives the believer hope for a home with God where we can dwell in the presence of God forever. There is more to this than just hope as we read in Revelation 21:1-4 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” God will dwell with His people forever. God will wipe away every tear and wipe away all pain for all time! All of the past pain, sorrow, suffering, mourning, crying, and even death will be all gone. Yes, death will be history as “death shall be no more” (Rev 21:4).
The Bible tells us how all things began (Gen 1:1), how we can be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (John 3:16-17), and what our future looks like (Rev 21, 22). Outside of the bible, there is precious little comfort for the future of this world apart from Christ. Jesus says to us all, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33) and even further, Christ says “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). This God-given peace makes the message of Christ something to take hold of and is very much a part of the reason that the Bible became and remains so popular today: Popular as in the bestseller of all time and the bestseller year after year.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.
1. Radosh, Daniel. The Good Book Business, The New Yorker, 2006/18/06