Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019. What type of book is the bible? You might be asking yourself. How to approach it? How to read it? Who can be a good help to understand it.
The bible is a very rich book. It covers the whole of world history. It has been written over many centuries. There are historical parts, wisdom literature, songs, and the unique stories about Jesus in the new testament, the gospels. There are letters by the first apostles, and the prophetic book of the revelation. There is a lot to discover.
Historical Setting …
The bible is full of history. It is quite some adventure to discover the history of mankind and how deeply it is interwoven with the biblical stories and experiences.
Indeed, there is no other book on the planet which is as deeply rooted in human history. We have some antique literature, but these are very view pieces and usually with copies hundreds of years later. The biblical books with the books of Moses, the historical books, with the prophets and wisdom literature, go back up to 1500 years before Christ. The Old Testament has been composed step by step until about 300 BC. The way people are portrayed is very lively. With all their strength and weakness, with triumph as well as guilt and failures.
It is absolutely amazing to search back into the beginning of human writing, which developed slowly between 3000 and 1500 BC. If we date the origin of the ten commandments to about 1400-1300 BC, we realize that they came about the time when human writing achieved a skill such that full sentences of complex structure could be written down.
But the biblical books are more than history!
Words of Life …
The bible claims to be more than words. It is words of life. From the very beginning the biblical books have been books of faith. They talk about the fathers of faith. They talk about the struggle of faith. And they talk about God, who want to talk and wants to be with humans.
In the gospel of John, chapter 6, it is said about “the word”:
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (from John 6, 68-69)
In the Old Testament God talks to humans, usually to prophets who then communicate to others. With Jesus, this changes significantly. Here, God himself is there among humans, he talks himself through the son, through Jesus. And with the holy spirit it is claimed that God talks to all of them the same way: through the scriptures and the spirit to all who believe in Jesus.
The bible is more than history, since its goal and purpose is to bring people into a relationship to God. We are all asked to open our eyes, our ears and our heart and start to live with the living creator, the beginning and the end. So there is a lot to explore and to learn, when we start to explore the biblical books, from Genesis to the Revelation.
Come and join us, with Christians all over the planet, to come to the Lord. (Roland Potthast) ... further texts