The Bible is a Library

The Bible is a Library

April 29, 2018  |  Easter, Sunday Letter

Grace and peace to you

The Bible is not a book. The Bible is a library.

Precisely because it is a library and not a book means that one is not expected to start at the beginning (Genesis) and systematically read through to the end (Revelation). Besides being a mountainous task, this way of reading the Bible is probably more confusing than enlightening. It assumes that the books of the Bible were written in the order that they appear when they weren’t and it assumes that each follows neatly on from each other, which they don’t.

Some who are fascinated by “end times” like to start by reading the book of Revelation but this is equally unwise because the book of Revelation is basically a tapestry of scriptural threads gathered from all over the Bible (library) and sewn together. Not knowing anything about the individual threads will make it impossible to understand the full tapestry.

Another unhelpful way to read scripture is to flip the pages and randomly stop wherever one does to read the first verse that comes into focus. This is like playing biblical roulette. It is treating the Bible as a giant deck of tarot cards that are miraculously meant to direct us to the answer of our life. It is no more helpful than doing the same with a comic book or a Shakespearean play.

So if not at the beginning and if not at the end then where does one begin when it comes to the Bible?

I suggest to start in the middle. Well at least close to the middle. This means that we start with the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And out of the four it is perhaps easiest to start with Mark. Mark is short and to the point. Matthew and Luke use Mark as a guide but add their own solo pieces while John adds an entire orchestra.

Together with Mark I suggest a tiny slither of a book from the biblical library. It stands near the end and is called First John. This thin book contains the most beautiful summary of the Good News. The words are so simple that they reach a level of profoundness that is beyond comparison:

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
[1 John 4: 7-12]

These words are worthy of our pause…
Alan


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