Most of us have seen a Bible. Some of us have several of them in our homes. You can find them in most book stores. You even find them sometimes in hotel rooms.
The Bible has been the most influential book in human history. By far more copies have been made and sold of it than any other book. There are over six billion copies currently in print and, in the electronic age, there are still millions of regular searches and downloads of it. For over 1500 years it has served as the most important book of Western culture in particular, the book that most shaped the minds of Europeans and Americans in this recent period of history when these nations were rising to power.
In the United States, people's understanding of the Bible can play a significant role in politics. Some of the strongest voices in American politics are individuals who associate their views with the Bible. This fact makes the content of the Bible of interest even to those who do not consider themselves Christians. What is this book that plays such a significant role in some people's view of the world?
For those who would identify themselves as Christians, there is also a moment of truth here. Do you really understand this book you claim is so important to you? What if some of us really like the idea of the Bible but really don't know much about what is actually in it? What if some are more ready to fight for the "Bible" than actually to read it? Could it be that some of what some people think is the Bible is really just their own subculture, views they grew up with.
By the same token, some people who think they do not like the Bible actually may not like the attitudes and views of some people who claim to be representing the Bible. Would it not be fascinating if some of those attitudes and views turned out to be misrepresentations? It is at least worth a look to see.
The Bible is actually not a single book but a collection of dozens of books that have been collected into a library of sorts. In fact, the Bible is actually two Bibles. The first part of the Christian Bible is called the "Old Testament," and it was the Bible of Jews before the second part was even written. Even today, Jews who are not Christians consider the first part of the Bible alone to be their Bible.
These books were written over as much as a thousand years. They were written in three different languages, before the English language even existed. They were written in some quite different circumstances. At some points, we get peeks into a world that was quite different from the world we know today.
Yet many people believe that God speaks to them regularly through these books, as if there is no distance between now and then at all. Every Sunday, millions of people come together and hear the words of this book read. Many would say that God uses this book to give them hope and purpose for their lives. Many would say that God uses this book to help them when they face grief or suffering.
* On the one hand, we want to catch a glimpse of what these books were really about to begin with. We owe them that respect. We also want to see how these books have formed two world religions--Judaism and Christianity. If you are a Christian, we hope you will find this journey through these books refreshing and inspiring. These are your books! If you are not a Christian, we hope you will find this book as fascinating and intriguing a book as we believe it is.