Most people, including me, use the terms “Scripture” and “Bible” synonymously. Nothing I’m going to say in this post seeks to change that. I do, however, want to draw your attention to something every Bible reader should keep in mind: that is, the differences between what was originally written by a Bible author and what we see when we read an English Bible today.
- The Scriptures were written by many different authors over more than a thousand years. Therefore, the Bible was not written as a single book but rather is a collection of many writings.
- None of the original Scriptures were written in English. Therefore, what we read is a translation from the original languages.
- The original Scriptures contained no chapter numberings, no verse numberings, no punctuation, no capitalization, and no footnotes. All these have been added to help us read the text.
None of these facts should discourage you from believing that the Bible is the word of God and therefore true. It should, however, discourage us from getting too hung up on any one sentence or wording or point.
There’s a reason God gave us a Bible with over half a million words. The volume allows Him to repeat themes that are most important to Him. The more important something is, the more the Bible repeats it – decreasing the chance that we miss the point because a particular word or sentence wasn’t passed on to us correctly.
The voluminous nature of the Bible also allows us to let one part of the Bible interpret another part. That is, the documents in the Bible are constantly referring to each other. For example, we can read Moses or Isaiah in the Bible but we can also read what others in the Bible said about Moses and Isaiah – deepening our understanding in the process. This is especially valuable when we use the New Testament to better understand the Old Testament, and use the Old Testament to better understand the New Testament.
Therefore, while we rightly use the terms “Bible” and “Scriptures” interchangeably, we also rightly appreciate the “Bible” apparatus through which our “Scriptures” come to us. In this way, the truth of the word of God has the best chance of shining through..so that we can understand it, believe it, and act upon it.
The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.