The Library (January 15, 2013)

…Opening To…

When you read God’s Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, “It is talking to me, and about me.” (Søren Kierkegaard)

…Listening In…

The king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him went all the people of Judah, all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD. (2 Kings 23:2; context)*

…Filling Up…

The first thing you might not have known about the Bible is that it isn’t a book. I know what you’re thinking: have you ever seen a book before? It looks exactly like a book! It’s true: the Bible is cunningly disguised as a book. A small enough one will fit in your pocket. You could download it on you Kindle. The dusty one in your church sanctuary could be used for bench pressing. I even called it a book yesterday when I mentioned its overwhelming popularity.

But it’s not a book. The Bible is actually a library. Way back when ancient Greek was just normal Greek, people called the Bible “ta biblia,” which happens to be plural. The Bible was not “the book,” but “the books.” Nowadays, we get the Bible in a single, handy bound volume, but when we look at it, we should picture a shelf of books rather than a single tome.

Here’s why. When we mistake the Bible for a book, we are primed to make the next logical mistake, which is to think the Bible speaks with a single voice. But the Bible was written by hundreds of people down through the centuries. The texts affirm and contradict and reference and ignore each other. They speak with myriad different voices, espouse several understandings of God, and cover dozens of genres of literature. But they all have one thing in common: they were all written in response to encounters with God. The richness of the Bible is found in the varied encounters with God that all those varied people experienced. Mistaking the Bible for a book can lead us to miss out on the kind of wonderful variety that reinforces our own varied experience with our God.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you encountered the people in the Bible and you continue to encounter people today. Help me to use the library of the Bible to search for you, that I notice you more readily when you find me. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, hoping for an encounter with you as I read about your presence in the lives of your people.

* Many scholars think that the “book of the covenant” that King Josiah reads here is Deuteronomy, the last book of the Torah.

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