Do you read the Bible?
November 16, 2012
I grew up in a house filled with copies of the King James Bible (KJV). Some were old, some new, some family heirlooms, others the kind a person carries to church.
My dad was a Bible-reader. As a matter of fact, the only things I ever saw him read were the daily newspaper, a worn-out copy of a collection of Wordsworth’s poetry and the KJV. He had at least five or six copies of the Bible scattered around the house, each brim full of marginalized notes.
He was also superstitious about the Book. If there was a stack of books on a stand, he insisted that the Bible be on the top. For him, it was a form of desecration for other books to be placed above the Holy Bible.
My earliest recollection is that of my dad reading a children’s picture book Bible to me.
The Bible and I go back a ways. The same is true with many people reared in the rural South. It is an area permeated with biblical nuances.
Yet, I am certain that most people who spend their lives around Bibles seldom pick them up and read them. It is a strange phenomenon. People who stand and say amen when the preacher says the Bible is the divinely inspired infallible word of God never open its pages.
I think there are two reasons for this. The first is that church-going people often feel that it is the minister’s job to interpret the Bible for them. So, what they know of it comes from a passive relationship to the Book. They are content to be listeners, not readers or self-taught Bible scholars.
The other reason I think people don’t read the Bible is because it gets bad press.
When most people think of the Bible, the word “begat” springs in their heads.
The New Testament does begin with a whole string of those dreaded begats.
But the Bible is much more than a long list of names. If it were, we could call it the Holy Phone Book.
Because the Bible is a collection of books written over many centuries it doesn’t read like a novel with a beginning, middle and ending. Rather some books are poetic, some historical. The Bible is full of stories and parables, despicable people and good ones. Donkeys talks, the sun stands still, armies clash, kings commit adultery, prophets rail against injustice, a great teacher walks among the poor and brings them a message of hope, a visionary describes the coming apocalypse.
I don’t have time in this blog to quote many of the famous biblical passages that have worked their way into the English language through the King James Bible.
But, now that I think back on it, I believe my dad may have been on to something.
How about you? Do you ever read the Bible?