Today: 31 October 2014
 
 

  

What is the Bible?  

Bono, lead singer of rock band U2, says this:

‘I'm a Bible-reading man. My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ.’ (Bono on Bono: Conversations with Michka Assayas).

It's a big book...
but it's worth getting to know.

I was once in a high-street bookshop and was astonished to see that their Bibles were in a section labelled ‘poetry’. Of all things you might call the Bible, poetry seems the least appropriate—although it does, of course, contain some beautiful verse.

If not under poetry, then, where should it be shelved? Is it a history book? Should it be under fiction? Is it a religious manual? A series of biographies? A thriller? Should it be under ‘bestsellers’? In a sense it is all of these, but also so much more.

It is a history book, but instead of being locked in the past and largely irrelevant to life today, it still teaches us powerful lessons about God and all his people—not just the Hebrew nation. Much of the factual content is supported by what is known from historians and archaeologists. Yet the Bible also has an eye firmly on the future, with Christ’s eventual return.

It is an incredible story but, aside from clear examples such as Jesus’ parables (stories he told to illustrate points he was making), Christians believe it is true. Within that, there is much discussion as to what to take at face value—was the Earth really created in six days, or does that require interpretation, for example? Either way, it is God’s book, and far from fanciful fiction.

You could label the Bible a religious manual—but that makes it sound dull, which it certainly isn’t. The Old Testament offers fascinating insights into how God and his people interacted over the years; the New Testament, with the teachings of Jesus, Paul and the apostles, gives us a clear insight into living a truly Christian life.

It’s definitely a thriller. Dip into Genesis, Exodus, Acts or Romans (or even Revelation, if you’re feeling brave!) and you may find it difficult to put down. Some parts may be drier, or harder to understand, but don’t let that put you off the whole thing. It’s still an incredible read.

If you like biographies, you’ll enjoy the Old Testament in particular. Read how ordinary, flawed people got caught up in amazing situations and events—people like Moses, Abraham, Joseph, Ruth, David, Samson… the list goes on and on.

And it’s definitely a bestseller: no other book sells like the Bible. Partial or complete translations are available, and in strong demand, in over 2,000 languages—a figure unparalleled among religions.

Unique among literature, the Bible simply vibrates with life. If you want to get to know God, the Bible is the place to start. Turn to it and it will speak to you as loudly as if it had its own voice. It is the Word of God; Christians say it is one of the most important ways that God communicates with us today.


Explore this subject in more depth

Read an overview of the Bible from the Bible Society

Get the iPod Bible

Download the whole Bible

Discover How the Bible came to us, with a timeline

Hear vox pops of what people on the street think of the Bible

Find online versions of the Bible

Find online Bible translations, from Bulgarian to Swahili

Hear the Bible read out loud (in American English)

Read the Bible in a year

Read or hear dramatisations of the Bible in Arabic



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