Apparently one of the most popular shows on television these days is History Channel's "The Bible," the first of this series attracting some 27 million viewers, and over the weeks the numbers have remained high. That's good news, if you ask me.
It's been said that the Bible is the most purchased book but least read. So let me address this subject in this week's column.
First, when we describe the Bible as a book, we are really doing it a disservice. The Bible is not a book in the traditional sense; it is more like a portable library of some very ancient manuscripts that have been preserved and compiled in the form we call a "book."
The Bible was written by 40 authors over a period of 1,500 years, yet it is a unified book. Its human authors came from many different walks of life. Some were statesmen, others were plain men. Some were kings, others shepherds. One was a gentile physician, historian and investigative reporter, Dr. Luke. Some were fishermen (Peter and John), some priests (Jeremiah and Ezekiel), and one a highly trained rabbi and one-time influential Pharisee, Paul.
Many of them wrote without knowing what others were writing, and yet the Bible is a unified book.
Josh McDowell tells the story of a representative selling Great Books of the Western world coming to his home. He challenged this man to take 10 authors all from one walk of life, one generation, one place, one time, one continent, one language and have them write on one controversial subject.
McDowell asked the salesman if he thought any of the authors would agree. He said no. Yet the Bible speaks on hundreds of controversial subjects, over a long period of time, many authors, and there is unity. After considering those facts two days later, that man came to Christ.
The Bible is a unique book.
The Bible is the story of Jesus Christ; He is the unifying factor of this Book. Someone has said rightly, "The Old Testament predicts what the New Testament records."
Jesus Christ is a unique character in history. More evidence exists concerning Jesus than any other person in history. Because the Bible is His book, it deserves our attention.
One thing I think the History Channel's 10-week series on the Bible shows us is despite skepticism, doubts and questions, people are still interested in knowing what this collective volume of ancient manuscripts has to say.
Those who study it find it amazingly relevant to modern times. You know, you don't have to believe the Bible in order to read the Bible.
If the series has piqued your interest, please don't just run out and purchase any Bible. That may sound strange, but hear me out.
One of the reasons I think many people find the Bible confusing is that they are not reading it the right way; that is, they do not recognize it as a group of writings compiled over centuries and in specific settings which, when properly understood, help to answer some of the very difficult questions a reader will encounter as they read through its pages.
Another reason they find it confusing is that they are trying to read a difficult book in a difficult language. Most people, when they purchase a Bible, buy the standard King James Version.
I have no problem with the King James Version, but the truth of the matter is, the content of the Scriptures is sometimes difficult enough without obscuring it further by trying to read it in a dead language.
I suggest you go to a Christian book store and ask a salesperson to help you find a Bible in a language you can easily understand. But if you communicate with others by referring to them as thee and thou, goeth ahead and readeth the King James Version.
If you don't, try the New International Version or the New Living Translation or the English Standard Bible, and I think you will find reading the Bible more enjoyable.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information, visit the Gateway website at www.gatewaycommunity.org.