The Bible is Just a Book

I once talked about how the Bible is just a book when I was giving a message at the place I used to worship, and not only did I get some pretty passionate disagreements, but one person actually walked out on me.

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Many people argued that the Bible is THE word of God, but it isn’t, really- it contains the words God told to Moses and the Prophets, and it contains what many people wrote. It contains the writings (Ketuvim), such as Esther, Judges, Psalms, and the Proverbs.

It contains the teachings of Yeshua, and the letters that were written to the (mostly) Gentile congregations of new Believers to help them stay on track, spiritually, with what they were learning about Yeshua and God and how God wants us all to live.

But when it comes down to it, the Bible can’t be the exact words from God simply because the words in the Bible have been interpreted from the original Hebrew and Greek so many times, in so many different versions of the Bible, that there is no way each interpreter interpreted the words exactly the same.

In fact, did you know that under Copyright law, each version of the Bible must have (literally) hundreds of words different from any other version, otherwise it is a copyright infringement?

I asked the most trustworthy source of information that exists today- Wikipedia- how many different versions of the Bible exist, and this is what I got:

“As of September 2020 the full Bible has been translated into 704
languages, the New Testament has been translated into an additional 1,551
languages and Bible portions or stories into 1,160 other languages. Thus at
least some portions of the Bible have been translated into 3,415 languages.”

And when I specifically asked how many English versions there are, I was told there are more than 100 complete translations in English.

So, nu? How can anyone think that the Bible they are reading is an exact and verifiable rendering of what God told Moses, or what Shaul wrote to his congregations, or what Yeshua said when he gave his Sermon on the Mount?

The closest thing anyone will come to the exact words God used when he talked to us, which he only did in the Torah, is to read the Hebrew Torah. And, to tell the truth (which is all I ever try to do), even though the Torah written today will have exactly the same words as the Torah written a hundred years ago (because of the strict standards used when copying the Torah), the way we interpret that Hebrew will be different from one person to another.

And here’s the real kicker! Even when we read the same version, different people may be given, through the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), a different understanding of those very same words!

And both understandings may be valid.

If you don’t believe me, or maybe you don’t want to believe me, then let me give you the gospel truth, from the Gospel of Luke, itself (Luke 1:1-4):

Dear Theophilos:
Concerning the matters that have taken place among us, many people have undertaken to draw up accounts based on what was handed down to us by those who from the start were eyewitnesses and proclaimers of the message.  Therefore, Your Excellency, since I have carefully investigated all these things from the beginning, it seemed good to me that I too should write you an accurate and ordered narrative, so that you might know how well-founded are the things about which you have been taught.

Here we have the writer of the gospel usually thought to be the most accurate and trustworthy account, and he is saying that he has composed this based on what he heard from others who witnessed the events.

Have you ever told a joke in a group of people and then heard that same joke come back to you, later on? I’ll bet it wasn’t even close to the way you told it, was it? It may have had a similar lead-in and the punch line may have gotten the same point across, but it wasn’t the same, exact joke, right?

Or have you ever had to witness something that other people saw? The same event, seen by 5 people, will have 5 different versions. They may be similar, generally, but many of the specific details (height of the person, hair color, clothes worn, etc.) will be different.

This is why no two people understand the same thing the same way: we all filter the stimulus we receive through our senses in accordance with our own experience and knowledge. Therefore, it is impossible for any two people to understand and interpret what is heard, seen, or written the same exact way, and even more so when trying to interpret it from one language to another.

That is why I say the Bible is just a book.

“Okay, okay, so the Bible is a book. What’s your point, Steve?”

My point to all this is simple: when we read the Bible, we need to know that what we are reading is somewhat accurate, but not exact. It is someone’s understanding of the language that the narrative was written in, whether in the original Hebrew or Greek, and which will always be affected by that individual’s personal understanding and experience.

Now, given that my Bible, no matter which version or which language I have, is not an accurate accounting of what God or anyone else said, why should I believe any of it?

Because it is close enough to the truth to be trusted when we ask God to show us HIS truth! (read that again)

Every time you read your Bible, pray to God to lead you through his Holy Spirit to understand his truth. That way you can read any version you want to and trust that you will glean from it what God wants you to know.

And that works because we can ALWAYS trust God to teach us what he wants us to know about him.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know; subscribe to my website and Youtube channel, buy my books and after reading them share them with others, and remember this: I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for today so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!