Have You Read It?

I like what David Plotz of Slate Magazine did: Last year he started Blogging the Bible: What's Really in the Good Book.

Plotz tells his story of making a rare visit to synagogue and finding himself confused (and bored) by a Hebrew service he couldn't understand. He picked up the Torah in the pew-back, opened it at random, and started reading.

He was soon engrossed in a story he didn't know. It led him to wonder what else he had forgotten or never learned. He says: "Like many lax but well-educated Jews (and Christians), I have long assumed I knew what was in the Bible - more or less."

So Plotz began a project to read the Bible. He says: "My goal is pretty simple. I want to find out what happens when an ignorant person actually reads the book on which his religion is based."

I wonder how many people are like David Plotz - they have never taken the time to actually read the Bible. Maybe you're in that category. Perhaps you've even been to a church service and found it confusing ... or boring ... or both. But before you dismiss the Bible as contradictory or unreliable or irrelevant, let me ask you: Have you read it?

It may be, after you read the Bible for yourself, you'll conclude that it is contradictory and unreliable and irrelevant. At least then you'll be able to speak from some first-hand knowledge and not just preconceived notions (or as David Plotz says, from ignorance). But I think you'll be surprised by what you find.

A blogger named Dave Bish offers this encouragement to read the Bible:

This book is the all time bestseller and was the first book to come off the Gutenburg press, at the start of the Enlightenment. I love the scene in the film The Day After Tomorrow, the survivors burn books to stay warm but the staunch atheist clings to the Gutenberg Bible, as a great symbol of human triumph.

It's contraband in many countries, whilst the Gideons place editions in most hotel rooms worldwide, though increasingly they find the bedrooms doors of University campuses barred ... so much for free thought!

Until 500 years ago you could only read it in Latin. And when William Tyndale translated it into English he was killed and burned at the stake because of the outrageous message he uncovered within its pages.

No regarded ancient text has more and as reliable manuscripts. And yet this book, attributed with laying the foundations of western culture, is today marginalised, defamed, slandered or just left to collect dust on the bookcases of Britain.

I suspect that most of us have simply not read the Bible. I'd not until I was 18 years old ... imagining it to be impenetrable. Yet, its a bit unfair to write off what we've not examined. Until September I'd not seen The Sound of Music. Everything I'd heard had put me off. Since then I've been forced to watch it ... and my "informed" critique is that I'm not a fan.

However, I don't think the Bible will confirm our greatest fears about itself. I wouldn't promise that if you read it you would accept it - but we ought at least to give it an adult reading on its own terms.

So if you've not done it before (or even if you have): Why not read the Bible this year ... "on its own terms."

You may be wondering, Where do I start? The Bible is a big book - and some parts are hard to wade through. A suggestion: Start with the first two books of the Bible, Genesis and Exodus. Next, skip ahead to the New Testament and read the Gospel of John. Then continue with Acts and Romans (for a similar plan, check out this article).

You don't have to read big chunks. Read as much as you can each day and work your way through the chapters. Once you get into it, you may find yourself reading more than you had planned.

Don't have a Bible? You can read the on-line Bible at BibleGateway. Try the New International Version as an easy-to-read edition. If you live in the Windsor, Ontario area, contact us and we will send you a free copy of the Bible.

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