The Bible sits at the forefront of our faith. In these ancient texts we find words of wisdom, inspiration, and challenge. As the scriptures play such an important part in our life and faith it’s important to keep some things in mind regarding these 66 books.
The Bible is a communal text and a human text. Written over hundreds and hundreds of years the Bible has no one author, but a whole community of authors each writing from their place and time in the history of ancient Israel or the early church. While the Bible is a communal text in its writing, it is also a communal text in its reading. For most of human history a majority of the population was unable to read and write and until the invention of the printing press it cost a lot of time and money to produce any one volume, be it book or scroll. Thus the Bible was housed and read in communal places of worship and prayer, like a synagogue or church building. We see examples in the Bible of public scripture reading in both Nehemiah and in the Gospel of Luke. To this day our primary reading of scripture takes place in community, first and foremost during worship, but also during Bible studies and other classes. While most of us own at least one Bible (if you don’t have a Bible of your own, please come see me) it's important to remember that it is a text we all share, not just with each other, but with Christians and Jews the world over.
As we remember that the Bible is a shared human text it is also vital to remember that it is more than a human text. The Bible is also a divinely inspired text. The scriptures are divine in that they are the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, and to God’s working for salvation through the people of Israel, which culminates in Jesus.
The Scriptures are not a witness among others, but the witness without parallel.
-The Confession of 1967
The story of salvation found in the scriptures is inspired not only in writing, but also in reading. Not only do we believe that the Holy Spirit was inspiring the authors of the Bible as they wrote, we also believe and look for the Spirit’s inspiration in us as we approach the scriptures in faith, curiosity, and humility. We seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that we may rightly understand what the Bible has to say both in this time and place and across all times and places.
So as you engage with the scriptures; in worship or in Bible study, in community or on your own, remember that the Bible is both a human and a divine text and it takes the presence of both human and divine attention to make it fully come alive.