The word "Bible" comes from the Latin word for "book". Yet, "The Holy Bible" is not a book at all, but a library of books. This is important to keep in mind, because the simplistic reading of the Bible as a single book, as if written by a single author, in a single literary style, to a single audience and with a single agenda leads to all sorts of misinterpretations and misuses. Add to this, that it is also an ancient library. These books were written at different times between 1900 and 3400 years ago, and none of it was in your native language. Again, how important is it for us to not bring our modern cultural standards and assumptions with us to the Bible if we want to engage it on its terms and not insist on ours? That was our point from last week.
For this week, we need to ask what makes this library so special? What makes this old collection of books "holy"? What sets these books apart from all other books, elevating them to the status of "sacred"?
Back to Paul, speaking to his protege Timothy in 2 Timothy3:16 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."
Did you catch that? He says that all scripture is "God-breathed". Through many ages, all the way up to ours, Christians believe that the Bible was brought into existence by God Himself.
These English words "God-breathed" are a translation of single Greek word that is used nowhere else in the Bible. It is sometimes translated into English as "inspired by God".
In either case, what does it mean that the Bible was inspired by God, or God-breathed?
Does it mean that God dictated each and every word? Did He look at Moses, for example, and say, "Moses, sit down, pick up your pen, and take a letter"?
Does it mean that the Bible is not allowed to have anything that we could constitute as an "error"? In other words, if it is inspired by God, then does this demand that there be no contradictions with itself on any subject? Does it mean that time-bound claim of something scientific or historical be absolutely consistent with more recently discovered scientific or historical facts?
Does the Bible itself claim that because it was written, in part, by God, that there is no room for it to be written, in part, by man?
Honestly, can the Bible be written by imperfect man, with imperfect perspectives, and imperfect assumptions that were common from their day and time, and still be inspired by God? Today, we consider this question.
Questions? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to address it in this series.