We call it ‘The Bible’ – which literally means ‘The Book’; and yet when we try to read it, we quickly find that it doesn’t ‘read’ like a novel or a history book or biography.
For one thing – it’s not just one book, it’s many books – 66 ‘books’ written over a span of more than 1500 years by human authors in specific historical situations that we believe were inspired by God’s Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16). The Jewish scriptures that Christians call the Old Testament were (mostly) written in Hebrew, while the Christian New Testament was written in Greek, the common language of the Mediterranean.
A second reality is that they’re not all the same ‘kind’ of literature. The Bible (and individual books of the Bible) contain ancient history, poetry, wisdom, stories and parables, letters to churches and individuals, prophetic messages, ancient biography, visions and symbolic messages in the books of Daniel and Revelation.
God Still Speaks
Yet even though the Bible comes to us from a very different time and culture, God still speaks to people through scripture. We find ourselves reflected in the family drama, good intentions and failures to follow through, times of triumph and tragedy. More importantly, we find that woven through all of it is a story of God reaching out to human beings to draw us back into the life and relationships God created us for. We find God’s story – God’s purposes in and for this world, and how we are meant to be a part of that.
We don’t have to be experts or scholars to encounter God in the Bible or find direction for our lives. One of the most important things is to just start reading scripture, both by ourselves and even better, in conversation with others.
Where to Begin?
If you’re not sure where to get started, here are some ideas:
If this is all new to you;
If you want to go a little deeper: