Biblical scholar and author Samuel Bacchiocchi, Ph.D. stated in his book “Popular Beliefs–Are They Biblical” (Biblical Perspectives Publishing): it is “how we perceive the Bibles on our shelves that determine how we define and test our beliefs.”
The Bible Defined:
- Spans 1600 years of history
- 40+ authors
- Differing places, times, modes
- Written on 3-continents
- Written in 3-languages—Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek
- Greek for Ta Biblia—the scrolls or books; a library
- Polyvocality of Biblical Literature
- A cacophony of voices and perspectives
- Poisonous texts stand with curative texts
- 50 different translations of the Bible in English
- Translated into 518 languages (full Bible)
- 10’s of thousands of manuscripts from which we get the various translations
Common Vernacular—sword; Word of God; the 66-special; the water of life; the Good Book; the Book; the Greatest Story Ever Told
The Bible is considered the bestselling book of all times.
- 2007: ~2.5M Bibles were sold totally ~$770M (U.S.)
- Increase of 26% over 2005 which reported ~$609M
- 2008: ~$823.5M
- Suggested average growth of ~10%
- Increased sales during times of war and financial disaster
- Beal quotes a major evangelical publishing company executive as saying that the average Christian-home owns now fewer than 9-Bibles and they purchase at least a new one each year
Yet research supports the claim that it is “…the most revered book never read.” (Beal) Here are some very interesting trends and statistics:
~1/2-adults Americans cannot name the first 5-books of the Bible nor can they name the 4-Gospels of the New Testament
~1/2-graduating high school seniors assumed that Sodom and Gomorrah were a husband and wife
~1/10 of adults assume that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife
~2/3-Americans can’t name at least five of the 10-commandments
~3/4-Americans believe the Bible is the Word of God–yet 1/2 of these 3/4-Americans say that the Bible should be taken literally, word for word, as such
~1/2-Americans believe the Bible to be totally accurate in all its teachings
~2/3-Americans believe the Bible answers all or most of the basic questions of life–yet 28% of these 2/3 of Americans readily admit that they rarely or never read their Bibles
Audrey Barrick, Christian Post Reporter (01/08/2008)—www.christianpost.com/new/
1402 unchurched adults do not have biblical understanding about God and Jesus.
Frank Newport, Gallup Organization (05/25/2007—www.gallup.com
~1/3 of Americans believe that the Bible is literally true and is the Word of God and is to be taken literally word for word.
~1/5 of Americans believe that the Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.
Belief in the Bible drops among those who have college education
Why this oxymoronic attitude towards the Bible?
2-Classes of thought among Traditionalist:
Biblical Errancy (the Bible is chiefly a human product that is prone to error–but still of value to the Christian Faith)
Popular among scholars and liberal Christians
Biblical Inerrancy (the Bible chiefly a divine product that is free from errors–specifically in its original manuscripts)
Popular among conservative and orthodox Christians
The Bible is the Word of God that provides Black and White answers to all of life’s questions, problems, etc.
Pro: provides comfort to the masses
Con: leaves the Body of Christ in a state of spiritual immaturity (Beal)
Many see the Bible as an instruction manual but find that the Bible does not always answer their questions or provide solutions to complex situation of today.
- Consequently consumers are demanding ready-made and easily accessible answers and thus an industry surrounding the bible has emerged in recent decades to address this need.
According to Beal, most Americans view the Bible as ancient and irrelevant to their complex lives.
Consequently, Bible publishers are scrambling to produce Bible-type/Bible-related materials to make the bible relevant today.
- Daily devotionals with snippets
- Adding value to its Biblical publications (value added content)
- Supplemental content becomes the focal aspect of the Bible text that is being amplified and the actual Bible text becomes simply background. (Beal)
NOTE: the Bible is in the public domain and is thus free to anyone who seeks to have a copy.
Translations are a major element in the debate over how one perceives their Bibles:
- A translation is broadly an interpretation since all translations depend on “functional equivalencies” in order to put ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek forms of speech into understandable English (Beal)
- Bible publishers seek to add value to their product by taking creative and interpretative licenses: providing the reader with images, feelings, and ideas
How do Denominations Perceive the Bible?
- The Lutheran Church (www.lutheran-resources.org)
- The “Holy Scriptures” are unique
- The Bible is the Word of God
- The authors of the Bible wrote only that which the Holy Ghost communicated to them by inspiration (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21).
- The Holy Scriptures being the Word of God, it goes without saying that they contain no errors or contradictions; they are in all their parts and words the infallible.
- The Holy Scriptures are the foundation of the faith and the sole source from which all doctrines proclaimed in the Christian Church must be taken
- Full rejection that the Bible is part the Word of God and part the word of man and that it might contain error.
- Catholicism (www.ancient-future.net)
- Multiple sources of authority: the Bible, Tradition, the Creeds, the Bishops and the Pope
- Christ, the ultimate authority, passed on His authority to His Apostles—the Apostles provided the Bible and Traditions, and neither contradicts the other
- The Bible is interpreted through the Tradition of the Apostles (currently modern day bishops with the first place given to the Bishop of Rome or the Pope-the successor of Peter, the Rock and prince of the apostles
- The Pope has the authority to speak infallibly on issues of faith and morality.
- Rejection of “sola scriptura” (i.e., the Bible alone is our final authority)
- The Presbyterian Church (www.trinitypc.org)
- The inspiration and absolute trustworthiness of the Holy Scripture.
- The United Pentecostal Church, International
- The Bible is the infallible Word of God and the authority for salvation and Christian living as supported by 2 Timothy 3:15-17.
- The Baptist Church (www.baptiststart.com/print/chicago_statement.html)
- All professing Christ must humbly and faithfully obey God’s written word.
- To deny the inerrancy of Scripture sets aside the witness of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and the entire Christian Faith.
- God Himself inspired Holy Scripture in order to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. The Bible is God’s witness to Himself.
- The Holy Scriptures are God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit is infallible, divine authority in all matters upon which it touches.
- It is to be believed as God’s instruction in all that it affirms
- It is to be obeyed as God’s command in all that it requires
- It is to be embraced as God’s pledge in all that it promises
- The Holy Spirit opens our minds to understand its meaning
- Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching
- Messianic Christianity (www.messianicchristianity.org)
- The Scriptures are inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16). In one sense the Scriptures are the word of God. In another sense, since the Scriptures also contain uninspired words of men (see Peter’s words in Mt. 16:21-23 to which Yeshua Jesus responded with: “get behind me, satan”), and even sometimes the words of the evil one (Gen. 3:1-4; Mt. 4:3, 6, 9; 16:21-23; Lk. 4:3, 6-7, 9), the Scriptures contain the word of God. The Scriptures are authoritative for man (2 Tim. 3:16).