Bible Primer

The Bible is a book that has been read more and examined less than any book that ever existed.  Thomas Paine

As I have been writing several different blogs pertaining to different aspects of Christianity, I have had several wonderful conversations with people who have not much experience interacting with the Bible.  This blog is for people who have not had much experience with the Bible, but are interested in a understanding how the Bible is to be approached.  I will write this in a bullet format in order to be concise:

1. The Bible is not one single book, but 66 different books written over a long period of time.  It has been collected together as sacred writings for over 2500 years. 

2. The Bible assumes the existence of God and never attempts to prove it.  It is a book of faith written to a people of faith.  Certain assumptions are present.  The Bible is not to used as a text book or a proof text because it was not written for that purpose.  While it contains truth, its purpose was not to lay out a detailed defense of these truths, but simply to document and proclaim those truths.

3. The entire Bible is considered a complete story.  The Bible is considered to be revelatory in that it reveals God's character, His will for humanity, and humanity's response to him.  No one section of the Bible is considered authoritative over another, but the entirety of the Bible is considered authoritative.

4. The Bible was written in a myriad of cultural, historical, and socioeconomic contexts.  Therefore, its original meaning has to take in consideration of the culture, historical forces, and sociological processes in which it was written.  Our current culture is remote to these cultures, and significant scholarship was necessary to give the best translations and meanings.

5. The Bible was written in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages.  None of these languages are spoken today (just like no one speaks Old English today).  There are no original manuscripts of the books of the Bible left today.  We only have multiple copies of the originals.  The top linguists have worked for centuries to maintain the accuracy of current translations.

6. The different books within the Bible are made up of different genres and are meant to be read that way.  There are narratives (stories), poetry, letters (also called epistles), and apocalytic letters (literature written with culturally understood symbols).  In order to read a given text, its genre must be understood.

6. The Bible is both informational and formational.  It is informational in that it provides the information regarding God and what has happened, and what will happen.  It is formational because it is by understanding the will of God, as revealed in the Bible, that Christians believe we are transformed to God's image by His Spirit.  It may sound mysterious, but the Bible is to be experienced not only mentally (understanding) but mystically as well (experience).

7.  The Bible was meant to be read in community.  Most of the books of the Bible were meant for pre-literate societies in which the book would be read in a community.  The texts were meant for discussion and application.

8.  The Bible shows real stories with real emotions.  We see successess, failures, pain, suffering, triumph, and celebration.  This allows the reader to enter the stories being told.  Interestingly, the Bible even shows God's emotions.

9. Concepts are not true because they are in the Bible, but in the Bible because they are true. 

These are a few concepts to get you going if you are having trouble engaging the Bible.  I encourage you to take a chance at reading the Bible this week and leave comments on your experience.

May God bless you,


Pastor M Traylor