Recently, I’ve been studying my Bible a bit. I even bought a fancy large-print one so that I don’t have to squint at those itsy-bitsy words.
For many people, the Bible is a touchy subject. It makes some people uncomfortable; and it makes some people so argumentative that you can’t get a word in edgewise. Some people don’t believe any of it; some people only believe some of it. It’s sort of like little Anne in The Others — you know, that ghost movie with Nicole Kidman? Little Anne didn’t believe God made the world in six days, and she didn’t believe that Noah got all those animals onto one boat.
Some people, on the other hand, regard every written word in the Bible as complete spiritual truth. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, but personally, I take every word with a grain of salt. God didn’t write the Bible. Men did. First, His prophets in the Old Testament; and then, Jesus’s disciples in the New Testament. My favorite parts of the Bible are Jesus’s words, because I believe that His disciples would have recorded them with great diligence and care. I believe we read it pretty much exactly as He said it.
However, as with every ancient text, there are scholars and historians who question certain things. For example, modern scholars don’t believe that the Promised Land of Israel and Judah was peopled by the followers of Moses. Instead, they claim that its inhabitants were never switched out, one group for another. They simply say that the inhabitants of Israel and Judah adopted the God of Moses.
It would be easy to try and pick a side, and give what we call an “educated opinion” on the subject. If some people felt that they didn’t completely understand what happened, their world would seem shaken.
But I don’t take that approach. I don’t know exactly what happened after Moses led the Jews out of Egypt. I don’t know who the ancestors of the modern Israelites were. How can we pretend to understand? It doesn’t much matter who your ancestors were, if you don’t even believe that Jesus is the Messiah.
Because that, you know, is the founding basis of the Bible. There were four major prophets in the Old Testament, and twelve minor ones, all of whom predicted the coming of Christ. So, even before He came, the Bible was about Jesus.
Modern scholars claim that, once upon a time, there were even more books that proclaimed Jesus as the savior of the world. The most famous of the “lost gospels” are those of Peter, Mary Magdalene, and Judas. But the gospel of Peter, for example, is apparently much different than the other gospels. It may be older, and it shows a “gnostic” tendency.
Gnosticism is a word from ancient Greek, which is applied to many old religions, simply meaning “knowledge.” It shuns the material world, and embraces the spiritual world. But so far as Christianity goes, the gnostic approach was considered heresy, since gnostics believed that their salvation relied on a “secret knowledge” from Christ. All they had to do was know the secret, which God gave them. And salvation was theirs.
Actually, this is very similar to my own view of Christianity. I believe that the Bible is a very useful tool; but true knowledge, and true conviction, is delivered straight to your heart. You don’t need a Bible for it, although reading it can help to strengthen you, both physically and mentally.
It may be that there are an ocean of missing Bible books out there, written by men and women whose beliefs about Jesus didn’t quite match up with those of the Church. Most Christians disagree, claiming that every book God intended to be present in the Bible did end up there.
I believe that the world is a mystery. The only mystery God ever revealed is that Jesus was His son, sent to save mankind, and that one day He’ll return for His people.
All the other mysteries will have to wait until later.
(Featured image: Jesus Christ holding a Bible which reads, “Ego sum via veritas et vita.” Translation from Latin: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”)