“How did we get the Bible?” Now, that’s a big question, with a lot of different possible meanings and topics to be included. Is there an aspect of this process that remains a mystery to you? When people ask how we got the Bible, they may be really asking about inspiration (what’s God’s role?), or maybe canonization (how and why these books?), or even textual criticism (how do we know they were copied correctly?). These are all good questions and subjects. They all deserve thoughtful answers. And that’s why, in this new video series, we address all of these issues, and more.
And these questions are not just for the sake of curiosity. Scripture is a fundamental aspect of the Christian faith. We refer to the Bible as the holy Bible, sacred Scripture, God’s word. Although we do not worship the Bible and it is not an end in itself, it is still central to our faith because of what it reveals about God and his intentions. It is our primary authority for faith and practice, and so we owe it proper respect. Therefore, how we got the Bible is also fundamental.
But, interestingly enough, despite its importance to our faith, most Christians don’t really know how we got the Bible, perhaps beyond a few sort of common sense suppositions. Like the faith itself, we receive it as a gift, usually in more ways than one. If you own a Bible or Bibles, I wonder how many of them came as a gift, from a church, a friend, or a loved one. We don’t always know the provenance of a gift.
We know that the Bible did not come to us, bound and translated, straight from heaven in the king’s English; but for all I knew as a kid, that seemed as likely as anything else. I knew nothing about the processes behind it. So my first and most basic answer to the question, “How did I get the Bible?” is that someone gave it to me. We may be forgiven for not knowing its provenance. Scripture comes to us as a gift—a gift from God—and we have received these ancient words, through his providential care, by means of countless, nameless individuals through the centuries, right down to our church family and our physical family.
At the same time, since there is more to it than a miraculous descent from heaven, we would do well to examine the origins of Scripture and be informed about its history. And we would do well to have accurate expectations about the origins of this book. If not for ourselves, we at least need to have a ready and reliable answer for the many critics and criticisms that are out there.
This video series, “How We Got the Bible,” includes eight episodes, each accompanied by discussion questions for use in a class or small group setting, along with additional reading and viewing materials.
All of the video learning modules in the Center for Christian Studies collection are written and presented by scholars (PhDs) who also teach and minister in local congregations. The content is both reliable and accessible.
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