We’ve had a number of conversations recently that somehow led to the Bible. I say somehow because these weren’t conversations with particularly religious friends, and yet what they talked about was their interest in the Bible. For some, they readily acknowledge that this particular library of books, (Yes, it’s a library. More on that later…), that has deeply shaped western civilization in countless ways and yet they haven’t the foggiest notion what it’s actually about otherthan vague references to David killing Goliath, (Although in the book of 2 Samuel it’s written that a man named Elhanan killed Goliath), or ominous warnings about the end of the world, (Like in the movie ‘This Is The End’ where Jay Baruchel keeps reading passages from the book of Revelation to Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill and James Franco - as if that’s the book to help you understand why the sinkhole in your front yard just swallowed up Rihanna…), or stories about Jesus doing things like turning water into wine. (Really? That’s his first miracle? He makes it possible for people to keep drinking for days on end? Is this why Jesus was accused of being a drunk?)
For others, they’ve heard someone quote the Bible and something about what the person said made them think there’s no way that it actually says that. And yet they don’t have some better or more informed way to counter the explanation they heard other than you can’t be serious, that’s crazy.
And then for others, the Bible caught them off guard. They had an experience…they tasted something, they felt something, they endured something - and they discovered in the Bible language for what they’d experienced. They were wronged by someone and in moments of honesty realized that they wanted that person to die in a violent and gruesome fashion - only to discover these exact impulses described in vivid detail in the Psalms.
How is it that someone writing thousands of years ago in a different place in a different language in a different culture could describe with such startling detail exactly what I’m feeling here and now in the modern world?
How could something so many have discarded as irrelevant be at times so shockingly relevant?
Good questions. Questions we’ll get to.