They tell me I do not wish to know how sausages are made. That is fine with me since I wish to eat and not make sausages. If the sausage is sufficiently delicious, then the messiness of the process means little to me. Assuming rudimentary morality in the making, the sausage is the thing that will satisfy the appetite of even a king.
This brings me to how we got the collection of books that we now call the Bible. My summertime skeptic, M*, asks the following:
13. What about the history of the process of how the Bible got canonized leads you to believe that God divinely inspired or guided it?
Imagine that process was insanely messy, so disorganized, chaotic, and sad that nobody would defend it. The end result was the Bible. Forget for a minute the content of the collection and focus only on the beauty (even in translation):
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.**
I am curious if some committee canonized this verse, since in my experience committees rarely recognize beauty. I am interested in the topic, but mostly I am in love with the beauty of the verse. This is startling, profound, and lovely.
However we got the Bible, the result is amazing: this collection of Books has inspired billions.
In one sense, why do I care where it came from? If you meet the Beloved, and the Beloved is beautiful, then asking who sent the invitation that made the meeting possible is much less important than gazing on the Beloved.
Of course, I have met the tone deaf who read a sublime poem and hear only “blah.” They are so ideologically opposed to Christianity, they cannot see the beauty of the words or the message.
This smallness does not make me angry, but sad. Such a reader misses so much. The fundamentalist Christian does the same when he approaches a great text and cannot pause to see what is good, true, and beautiful within the book. He must denigrate to support his cause.
I do care if the motives of the makers of the Bible were bad. That would warn me to look for hidden errors or missing texts. Yet I care more about the final product: if bad chefs make great food, then for that one meal I salute their greatness. And so I think that how we got the Bible is of great academic interest.
Oddly, the worse or more haphazard the process, the more I am apt to think it divine. The result was so splendid that if literary butchers made this greatest, tastiest of intellectual pleasures, then I am stunned.
Let’s enjoy the literary feast!
*M is a non-Christian that sent me 55 questions earlier this year. He has asked that I not reveal his or her name. I will write as if “he” is a male, but this is for convenience. I do not know if I will get to all his questions. I try to limit my answers to hundreds and not thousands of words. Here are questions 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 20, 23, 26, 27, 28, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 44, 47, 54 , and 55.
I made it to 30!This post was edited by Rachel Motte.
**The Greek is staggering.