Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

how did we get the bible?

8/18/12 

 

Those of the Christian persuasion by definition reverence the Bible as God's word. In that regard, how many of those Christians ask how we got the Bible? Seemingly the validity and significance of the Bible should be supported by a reasoned evaluation of its origins,  compilation, and transmission down through its history.

 

If one claims to have faith in the Bible's truthfulness and applicability without any such knowledge, then it would be reasonable to ask what instills that faith? Why is the Bible accepted as divinely inspired and complete without human addition or abbreviation, if the process by which we have come to possess it in its current form is unknown and unexplored? Could such acceptance be anything more than a matter of tradition or cultural conditioning?

 

Some, perhaps many, would respond that the marvelous nature of the Bible accounts with its prophesies and miraculous happenings, its soaring picture of God's majesty and power, would mark it as extraordinary and therefore divine in nature. This response, of course, does not address the larger question about the parts of the Bible that are not prophetic and don't depict God in such a positive light. It ignores much of the Bible which reflects very typical human reasoning and actions and yet is purported to be God inspired.

 

As long as the Bible is presented as a divine whole, then the question of validity must encompass the entire Bible. That is where the question of compilation comes in. Most church people are probably aware that the Bible is really a compendium of 66 books written over centuries by different authors. Perhaps less well known or considered is the fact that what we now call the Bible was vetted and assembled into the book we now have  centuries after Christ by various groups of men. This understanding means that perfect reliance on the Bible includes perfect reliance on the process by which the Bible was transmitted from generation to generation prior to its final assembly and the means by which its various components (individual books) were validated and approve to be included in the text we now see.

 

For those entrenched in the KJV Bible, as many American Protestants most ardently are, the Bible's reliability also depends on the translation effort which took place under King James of England around 1611. Now King James was a student of the Bible; but he also was a monarch who firmly believed in the divine right of kings, the contention that God appointed certain rulers over men and to oppose those rulers was to oppose God Himself. One could easily imagine that translators, operating under the sponsorship of such a ruler. would be much inclined to allow the biases of that ruler to influence the translation process in support of this divine right. Such royal sponsorship means that the translators were not perfectly free to render an unbiased product. The extent to which they may have been adversely influenced by royal pressure is not known, but to assume no such influence is a real leap of faith.

 

Those Christians who rely on an inerrant, infallible Bible and don't even consider its origins treat their divine text as if it dropped intact from the sky with a divine seal of approval attached, much like the Mormons contend about their sacred book. Of course, the average Christian would likely dismiss the Mormon claim, but the Mormon process of divine revelation eliminates all the issues around their text that Christians so blithely ignore while treating the Bible as if it was delivered intact by God, just like the Book of Mormon is claimed to have originated.

 

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