My lifelong love affair with the Bible and, more importantly, the God of the Bible
Earlier in the week, I attended a helpful presentation along the lines: how we got our Bible, and this is what has triggered me to write thus …
Those who follow my blogs will know I write (often controversially, since I often disagree with the official line) concerning the events of the day. I do so as a Watchman on the Wall, whose job back in Old Testament times was to warn people of impending danger and to encourage people to follow in the ways of the Lord. I also write on Bible related themes and do so without feeling any conflict of interest since this is what informs my watching. This month I have written the following Bible specific articles:
- Bible Genealogies and Family Trees
- Thoughts on the Book of Ruth
- King Nebuchadnezzar II, world events and lessons for today
- Thoughts on the Book of Judges
- Thoughts on the Book of Joshua
- Resources for studying the Bible
I also write books:
- Prophets of the Bible – the Second Edition
- Song of Songs, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes
- Kings and Priests of the Bible (work in progress)
God works in mysterious ways! One of the extraordinary happenings early in my life was as a child growing up on a Council Estate in Leigh, where there was no nearby “Bible believing” church, when an elderly lady, who knew her Bible and loved the God of the Bible, and her young team of spinsters, started a Sunday School at the nearby school, and my parents sent me and my sister along to it every week.
One of the earliest choruses I learned was that above. I am grateful for the emphasis on the Bible e.g. talks and classes, all around some or other story in the Bible. I remember “sword drill” where the children were invited to find a given text (no turn to page such and such in those days!) and were encouraged to remember early on the titles of all 66 books (39 OT, 27 NT – in order!). Then there were object tables and memory verses, with prizes when successful.
When we moved house in my teens, I was introduced to another Bible believing set-up, and joined the Covenanter class, which combined games and Bible teaching. This built on the grounding I had got from Sunday School and was part of the introduction to my becoming a Christian, aged 15. Ever since, I have been a keen student of the Bible, including the more obscure parts, including that which does not sit well with modern sensibilities, like the slaughter of whole cities in Joshua and Samuel, and to do with end times events not just in the Book of Revelation but many of the OT prophets, headed up by Daniel and Zechariah, believing God has gifted and uses me to share as my contribution to the Body of Christ.
As for what makes the Bible so important, I go with my early teaching – it is inspired by God, and in a way no other books are. I am happy to go with the officially recognised 66-Book Canon, excluding the Apocrypha, even though it appears in the Catholic Bible which, regrettably, is not something I am well familiar with:
- 1 and 2 Esdras
- Additions to Esther
- the Wisdom of Solomon
- Book of Ecclesiasticus
- Additions to Daniel
- the Prayer of Manasseh
- 1 and 2 Maccabees
and the Gnostic Gospels – rejected as canonical by the early church as these often tie in with the Gnostic heresy:
- The Gospel of Thomas (second century CE)
- The Gospel of Truth (second century CE)
- The Gospel of Judas (second century CE)
- The Gospel of Peter (second century CE)
- The Gospel of Mary (second century CE)
- The Gospel of Philip (second–third centuries CE)
- The Gospel of the Egyptians (second–third centuries CE)
Then there are books referred to in the Bible, e.g. the Book of Jasher (Joshua and Samuel) and the Book of Enoch (Jude). These provide helpful background, even if not seen as part of the Canon.
A word should be said of the ordering of books. Earlier, I gave the list that was taught me in Sunday School which, as far as the Old Testament goes, comprises four sections: Pentateuch, History, Poetry and Prophets. I believe the arrangement in the Hebrew Bible, which comprises three sections: Law, Prophets and Writings, is superior and makes more sense when, for example, coming to a realisation the Book of Chronicles is not a rehash of Kings but rather giving a priestly perspective that looks back on history for the returning exiles and looks forward to the Messiah, rather than a prophetic one, which was often scathing regarding Israel’s sins.
When it comes to which version to use when reading the Bible, unless we can comfortably read in the original Hebrew and Greek, we are dependant on translations. Here we are spoiled for choice these days and people have their favourites and sometimes feel strongly as to why, but as I often say: this should not be a falling out matter. Often there are strengths and weaknesses. While my favourite continues to be the King James version (check out links below for reasons), I use different versions, along with dictionaries and concordances, in order to establish the true meaning and also try to establish context by comparing scripture with scripture. The main thing is to read the Bible: daily, prayerfully and systematically.
- The King James Bible
- Why I love the King James Bible
- Should we be using the King James Version of the Bible?
I hope those reading this will not so much better understand how I look on the Bible and why the love affair, but they will come to study it for themselves and fall in love with the God of the Bible.