Chaplain's Corner: A Look at The Book
Chaplain Bill Wolfe / Llano County Sheriff's Department
Hello, and welcome to the Chaplain’s Corner. I survived turning 55! Wasn’t such a big deal after all. And March is here again. That means severe storm season will soon be upon us here in central Texas and that could be a big deal. We badly need the rain, but the hail and damaging winds and potential tornadoes I can do without, thank you very much. Last Spring they sent me out to see where the tornado was. Thank the Lord I didn’t find it, but it was a leetle disconcerting when the official storm tracker van came past me headed the opposite direction and stopped less than a quarter mile behind me.
Anyway…to get back on track… I recently got engaged in a series of postings in the Christian Cops group. There had been some back and forth among several posters that started about a Gospel presentation; and after a couple of posts, I was asked a very valid question: “Why should I live my life based on your opinions?” Some of you might have asked the same question. My response was that the questioner should not base any life-changing decisions solely on ANYone’s opinion without doing some due diligence to check out the basis of the opinion expressed. I stated that my opinions were based on the Bible and proceeded to give a little background about the Bible, a very unique book.
As I was deciding what to share with you, I thought that maybe it would be of benefit to share some information about the Bible that makes it unique. I was thinking…most of the time, if you say to someone that you’ve “read a good book lately” they’ll most likely ask you what one it was. But if you say you’ve been “reading The Good Book lately,” almost everyone knows which one without asking.
There are a number of things that are unique about the Bible, and we don’t have a lot of time to go much into detail, so I’ll try to just hit some of the high points.
- The Bible was written over a time span of about 1500 years…from 1400 BC to 100 AD.
- The books of the Bible were written by over 40 men from a variety of occupations: commercial fishermen, tax collectors, religious leaders, military leaders, political leaders, priests and kings.
- The Bible was written from locations on three different continents and in three different languages, Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
- It’s written in a wide variety of literary styles; poetry, historical narrative, song, memoirs, law, parables, allegory, and prophecy.
- In spite of all of the above, the Bible presents a single unfolding story of God’s love and redemptive plan for mankind.
One of the hallmarks of the Bible is prophecy. It contains thousands of detailed prophecies concerning people, times and nations (sometimes hundreds of years in the future) that have been fulfilled to the smallest detail. It seems like almost every time there’s a major archaeological discovery in the Middle East, it verifies some detail that’s recorded in the Scriptures.
“Well, that may be, but the Bible has changed over time, hasn’t it?” Nope. There are nearly 25,000 manuscripts still in existence that are early copies of Bible text. There are fewer than 700 hundred copies of the ancient classic Homer’s Illiad, and that’s the most of any other of the ancient books. In comparing the manuscripts, the experts have found that what few inconsistencies exist (1/2 of 1%) are mostly spelling or style, and not a single Christian doctrine rests on a “disputed passage.”
“Well, what about all the different versions of the Bible?” Here we kinda get caught up in semantics…it’s easy to confuse “version” with “translation” and especially since a number of the translations use the term Version in their name, i.e. King James Version, Revised Standard Version and the popular New International Version. Some Bible translations read differently because some are translated from the original Greek and others from the Latin Vulgate, which is a Latin translation from the Greek. I guess you could say there are three versions of the Bible in the broadest sense. The Jews recognize only the Old Testament, that’s one. Then there are the Protestant and Catholic versions. The Catholic Bible contains a number of books that the Protestant version doesn’t. (The reasons for that are a subject for another day.)
Then to complicate matters further, there are the paraphrases: those “versions” which try to capture the “concept” and present it in a “more readable” format and aren’t necessarily interested in exactness.
Which Bible is better than another? I don’t know, go ask your mother…which is a humorous way to say “We’re outta time again.” Blessings to you and yours.