The Bible is the best selling book in the world, perhaps 2.5 billion copies sold. It is the most printed book, with 6 million copies printed—the second being Mao’s Little Red Book at 900 million (The most popular Harry Potter book sold about 100 million copies). It is also the most translated book in the world— at least portions have been translated into 2454 languages. Clearly, it’s important to somebody.
But why is it important? And does it deserve its reputation and acclaim?
It is one of the oldest books in the world
The Bible, more than any other book, reflects a wide spectrum of ancient life, customs and thought. It is a sourcebook of ancient history, spanning a period (at least) of a thousand years.
It Expresses Human Experience
Because the Bible is written by forty different authors, as well as a number of editors. And it tells the stories of hundreds of people, who lived over a period of time of 2000 years (from Abraham to Jesus). All these stories cover the broad spectrum of human experience: joy, love, guilt, anger, lust, hope, sorrow, sacrifice, selfishness, murder, piety, hypocrisy, power, humility, farming, building, ruling, slavery, visions, butchery, and so much more. In all of these experiences, the Bible invites each reader to experience all this, and to see it all from the perspective of the ancient Hebrews. No book, novel or otherwise is such a masterwork.
It is about Humanity’s Connection with God
The Bible’s single theme is the relationship between humanity and God. It speaks of how God relates to men through individuals and government, through judgment and mercy, through prophets, philosophers, kings and everyday people. It speaks of how people relate to God through ritual, though prayer, through reading, through mystical experiences, through everyday life, through childbirth, through eroticism, through mourning, through exile and through work. It is the broadest explanation of spirituality and spiritual life that exists.
It Gives a Common Story for Believers
For those who believe in God, the Bible gives what might be the only common element between them all. It is the storybook for all believers, where examples of all things occur. It also gives a common language, full of quotes and unique turns of phrase which is used by many cultures, whether they believe or not. The Bible is the basis for all of our discussions about God, letting us know who God is and how He relates to humanity.
It is God’s Communication about Himself
The Bible is God’s word. This means that it gives us God’s communication. To be honest, if we read it carefully, we can see that contains God’s word, as it does not claim for itself that God is speaking through every verse. But it does give us God’s words, within colorful, varied contexts. God speaks to individuals, He speaks to nations, and more importantly, He speaks to us. In this book alone God tells us what He thinks it is most important for us to know. He tells us how we ought to live, how we can relate to Him, how we can gain His best. The Bible is the only book that clearly and definitively answers these questions.
It is About Jesus
The clearest, most accurate communication about God is Jesus himself. And the Bible is the only place that has the most historically accurate information about Jesus. The Gospels are the best books about Jesus ever written, collecting together eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life and teaching. The rest of the New Testament considers the basic implications of Jesus to those who follow Him. And the Hebrew Scriptures are the very books Jesus quoted from, using it to definitively describe what God is like and what He wants from humanity. Jesus is still the most important person influencing the world today—perhaps in this last century more than ever! If we want to know about Him, about his most correct representation of God, then we need to go to the Bible.