One of the things that I often get asked about by people in churches, as well as by fellow students of the Christian faith, is how we understand subjects like divine inspiration and authority in relation to the Bible and its history of human authorship and composition. Especially for evangelicals who have grown up in extremely conservative or even quasi-fundamentalist settings, the realization that the Bible did not float down from heaven perfectly bound in duo-tone imitation leather, with gilded pages, and red lettering can often be very unsettling. Indeed, when they begin to learn that oral tradition and transmission stand behind many of the books of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, or that Genesis 1-3 does not function like a modern-day science book, they can grow even more unsettled.
Of course, I don’t say any of this in a tone of mockery or condemnation. I say it as someone who has experienced similar feelings of discomfort and fear at my quasi-fundamentalist (and very modern) view of the Bible being shattered. Thankfully, such conceptions were replaced by a much more robust, realistic, and indeed, far more historically Christian view of the Bible and the great Truth it points us toward.
This happened over hundreds of hours of study and reflection on the history and nature of the Bible. While I wish everyone had the luxury to read such wonderful books as John Webster’s Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch (Cambridge University Press, 2003), John Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One (IVP Academic, 2009), Greg Boyd and Paul Eddy’s The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Tradition (Baker Academic, 2007), and St. Augustine’s classic On Christian Teaching (Oxford University Press, 2008), I realize that most people have neither the time nor the patience of a Bible-nerd seminarian like myself to read such works (even though they should).
With all of that in mind, I am extremely excited about the latest multi-part series from the awesome folks over at The Bible Project. They’re aim is to answer precisely the question I mentioned earlier: “So, what exactly is the Bible?” If the first video is any indicator, this is going to be an awesome series and resource!