[As you may know, I’m working on a book. Putting the Bible in Its Place: Off the Pedestal. Out of the Trash Can. Back on the Table. Here’s a preview. Let me know what about it interests you.]
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The Bible has been on my mind for at least 70 years. I was weaned on it. I read it daily. I studied it in its original languages (Hebrew and Greek). I exegeted it. I argued and quibbled over it with fundamentalists, evangelicals, Jews, and atheists. I preached more than 2,000 sermons from it over 40 years.
I gripped it like a totem. I kept it on a pedestal.
I now know it’s not what I once thought it was. It is not THE WORD OF GOD—although it is extraordinary, even divine in the same sense that other human works are.
For example, I don’t hesitate to call the works of Michelangelo, Bach, Shakespeare, or Emily Dickinson divine. By that I don’t mean God composed their works. I mean that their work evokes sublime feelings in me that transcend rational explanation. It’s like saying: What a day! It’s simply divine!
The word divine defines that kind of experience. The Bible is divine in that way and that way only. (Although, to be sure, parts of it are morally despicable—far, far from divine.)
Once I took the Bible off the pedestal, I saw its human likeness—flawed, fallible, tedious, boring, yet intriguing and occasionally brilliant. It’s not one integral book. It’s an anthology of Jewish works. It depicts human nobility and treachery.
It contains bloodbaths, beheadings, assassinations, incest, rape, torture, and monsters seeking human prey. All of which, of course, you can see in Game of Thrones.
If you like Game of Thrones, you’ll love the Bible.
Okay, that may be a stretch. Millions watched Games of Thrones as sheer entertainment. Billions read the Bible as THE WORD OF GOD. Many wield it as a bludgeon.
And that’s scary.
This book is a report on what I discovered when I removed the Bible from its pedestal. I no longer revere the Bible as holy, but I do respect its venerability, as I respect my flawed and fallible parents and grandparents.
Respecting the Bible is not the same as worshiping it. Worshiping the Bible is bibliolatry.
Weaponizing it is a sin.
See Paula’s photo (“Hydrangea Season”) on the home page. Posted August 7