This is the blog of Ash. Being a designer, i will feature some cool design stuff, but i also hope to contribute some of my thoughts on other topics. Follow @ashley_glover
What is the Bible?
Part 6 Son
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love-Isaac-and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there…”
This passage is a classic example of the kind of…
What is the Bible?
Part 5: Tower
Week 2 of my series on the Bible-ready to keeping going? Because we’re just getting started. Having spent a little time on floods and fish, let’s turn our energies to a tower and a son.
In Genesis 11 we read the story of the tower of Babel-the one in which people decide they’re going to build a tower that reaches to heaven
so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth
but God comes and inspects what they’re doing and decides that if they can do this
nothing they plan to do will impossible for them
and so God decides
Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.
End of story.
Now I’m assuming by now that you approach a story like this looking for details, hints, anything to help you better understand what was going on at this time in history so that you can answer those compelling questions that you’d ask about anything in the Bible
why would people find this story important and worth passing on?
Glad you asked.
First, who built Babel?
If we go back one chapter we read that
Cush was the father of Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD…The first centers of kingdom were Babylon(also known as Babel), Uruk, Akkad…
What else do we know about Nimrod?
(Besides being one of the best Green Day albums? I couldn’t resist that one.) The name Nimrod comes from the Hebrew root word rebel. Interesting.
Why does this matter?
Because by the time you get to story about the tower of Babel, what we know is that it’s being built by a very, very violent and powerful warrior who is also building lots of other cities and that his name is connected with the idea of rebelling. This called empire building. It’s what happens when someone, or a group of people, use military might and economic dominance to crush anything-and anyone-in the way of their plans.
Are there any other details we may have missed in our earlier readings of this story?
Yes. What was it exactly they said to each other about how they were building the tower? (I couldn’t have answered that question either without rereading the text.)
The text reads
they said to each other “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.
These details are huge. They used brick instead of stone. Have you tried to build something tall out of stone? It’s next to impossible. Why? Because stones are of all different shapes and sizes and they’re hard to stack on top of each other. Total hassle.
But this is a story about bricks. Someone invented the brick. You can make bricks the same size, the same shape, you can make bricks to exact specifications for whatever it is you are trying to build. Like a tower.
If you’d been building things with stone for, like, forever, and then you started using bricks, what questions would you immediately have?
Probably questions along the lines of
these bricks are amazing, they make all kinds of building possible that wasn’t possible before-just how big could we make something with these new bricks?
But in the story it isn’t just bricks they’re building with, they’re also using tar for mortar. Mortar is like cement, helping the bricks stick together.
What’s another name for these details about the brick and mortar?
Technology! This is a story about, among other things, technology. Someone invented something new-brick and mortar-which allowed people to make and do things they hadn’t been able to do before.
And what does that have to do with Nimrod?
This is a story about what happens when a powerful warrior who’s building an empire gets his hands on new technology and begins to use it to set himself up as a god, crushing everybody and everything in his path.
And what does that tell us about the world the author of this story was living in?
This was a new phenomenon. People were spreading and scattering and settling in new places and some were gaining more and more power and influence which affected everybody else. (Whenever you hear someone say that corporations and banks on Wall Street have gotten too powerful you are hearing echoes of the same sentiment, thousands of years later…) The story reflects a growing awareness and concern that there is a higher good for humanity than the strong dominating the weak, the powerful crushing the powerless, the proud raising themselves up to godlike status. Imagine building little walls out of stone your entire life and then making a trip to Babel and seeing people starting work on a tower made of bricks. It may have been awe-inspiring, but we can also assume that it would have been terrifying. If somebody can do that, what else can they do? Or to put more of an edge on it what couldn’t they do? (Imagine if other countries had nuclear bombs but your country didn’t. And imagine what it would be like to not have nuclear bombs, but to know that one of those countries that did have nuclear bombs had actually used their nuclear bombs in recent history, dropping those bombs on actual cities that people lived in. Terrifying.)
What does this story tell us about what it means to be human?
We have tremendous power and ability as humans. We can invent things and build things and dream things up and then make them. It’s extraordinary, and it’s to be celebrated and enjoyed (Say it with me now: HD Flatscreen. Chipotle. Almond Surfboards. Anything made by Apple. Clarks Desert Boots. Rickenbacker guitars. I could go on. So could you.). We also have the tremendous capacity to use our energies and minds and power and abilities to further our own purposes and greed and empire building at the expense of those around us, making the world less and less a peaceful home where everybody is thriving.
Is there more?
Yes. Perhaps the real power of the story is the haunting warning it brings that when we make it all about ourselves and our accumulation and our ego and our power and our desire to rule-when we become too full of ourselves, too obsessed with our own importance, too fixated on elevating ourselves to the top of the top of the tower we’re building (and we all know that towers come in all shapes and sizes), God (or whatever word you have for it) has endless, clever, and unexpected ways of scrambling our efforts, thwarting our plans, and sometimes even confusing our language so we…babel.
Tomorrow: What is the Bible?
Part 6: Son
What is the Bible?
Part 4: Fish#2
In this section I want you to see how insane some discussions about the Bible are and how they serve as massive distractions from the transforming experiences that are possible when we read these stories as they were meant to be read.
That said, according to the story Jonah gets swallowed by a fish. Jonah then prays in the fish, and then three days later
the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
-Jonah Chapter 2
Now some instantly respond to a man being swallowed by a fish and living to tell about it with a rolling of the eyes followed quickly by Really? It’s 2013! Haven’t we moved past all that magical/mythical thinking? Haven’t we outgrown these fairytales? Aren’t these the exact sort of claims that have turned off so many people from the Bible-let alone God and faith and Jesus and all that?
Others have a very different response: If the Bible says a man was swallowed by a fish, then a man was swallowed by fish! If you deny that this story happened as the author says it happened then what about all the other stories? If you deny this one, then aren’t you denying all the others with miraculous elements in them? And if you deny this one but affirm others, aren’t you essentially picking and choosing which ones you want to believe?
What do I think? I don’t think it matters what you believe about a man being swallowed by a fish.
If you don’t believe it literally happened, that’s fine. Lots of people of faith over the years have read this story as a parable about national forgiveness. They point to many aspects of the surreal nature of the story as simply great storytelling because the author has a larger point, one about the Israelites and the Assyrians and God’s call to be a light to everyone, especially your enemies.
Right on. Well said.
Just one problem. Some deny the swallowed-by-a-fish part not from a literary perspective, but on the basis of those things just don’t happen. Which raises a number of questions: What’s the criteria for the denial? Do we only affirm things that can be proven in a lab? Do we only believe things we have empirical evidence for? Do we believe or not believe something happened based on…whether we believe that things like that happen or not? (That was an awkward sentence. Intentionally.) Can we only affirm things that make sense to us? Are we closed to everything that we can’t explain?
If we reject all miraculous elements of all stories because we have made up our mind ahead of time that such things simply aren’t possible, we run the risk of shrinking the world down to what we can comprehend. And what fun is that?
That said, there are others who say Of course he was swallowed a fish, that’s what the story says happened!
Just one problem. It’s possible to affirm the literal fact of a man being swallowed by a fish, making that the crux of the story in such a way that you defend that, believe that, argue about that-and in spending your energies on the defend-the-fish-part miss the point of the story, the point about allowing God’s redeeming love to flow through us with such power and grace that we are able to love and bless even our worst enemies.
For the people who first heard this story, it would have been intended to have a provocative, unsettling effect. The Assyrians? The Assyrians were like a huge, gaping, open wound for the Israelites. Bless the Assyrians?
The story is extremely subversive because it insists that
your enemy may be more open to God’s redeeming love than you are.
That’s why the book ends not with a conclusion but a question. A question God has for Jonah-a question God has for the Israelites-
Should I not have concern for the great city Nineveh…?
This story demands what is called non-dual awareness. Many see the world in dualistic terms, terms in which there are the good people and the bad people, the sinners and the saints, us and them-a world in which people stay true to the labels and categories we’ve placed them in…
But this story wants none of that. It blasts our biases and labels to pieces with the declaration that God is on everyone’s side, extending grace and compassion to everyone-especially those we have most strongly decided are not on God’s side.
Religious people have been very good over the years at seeing themselves as US and people that aren’t a part of their group as THEM. But in this story, the dude who sees himself as us is furious because of how chummy God and them have become. He’s so furious, he’d rather die than live with the tension.
Which takes us back to the fish: it’s easy for the debate about the fish part to provide a distraction form the tensions of the story that actually have the capacity and potential to confront us and disrupt with God’s love, the kind of love that can actually transform us into more mature and courageous people, people who love even our enemies. (Nod to Jesus there.)
Now let me take it farther: It’s possible in defending the literal “facts” of the story to be missing the point of the story that can actually change your heart and in the process be turning people off from engaging the Bible.
Which takes us back to the insane part: You can argue endlessly about fish, thinking you’re defending the truth or pointing out the ridiculous outmoded nature of the man-in-fish-miracle, only to discover that everybody in the discussion has conveniently found a way to avoid the very real, personal, convicting questions that story raises about what really lurks deep in our hearts.
Next - What is the Bible? Part 5: Tower
What is the Bible?
Part 3: Fish#1
…Then Pul king of Assyria invaded the land…
Tiglath-Pilesar, king of Assyria, came…and deported the people…
Shalmaneser king of Assyria marched against Samaria and laid siege to it…
-from 2 Kings 15 and 18
Invading is what happens when you raise an army and then march into another country and take it over using force and power and violence.
Deporting is what happens when you capture the inhabitants of said country you’ve invaded and forcibly remove them from their homes and jobs and towns and land and then take them far away.
Laying siege is what happens when you surround a city with your army and in doing this sever the city from it’s food and water sources so that so many people are starving and suffering and dying that eventually they give up and surrender.
The Assyrians, in other words, were mean. Nasty, brutish, violent, oppressive-the Assyrians made life miserable for the Israelites. Year after year after year.
It’s during this era in history that a story emerged about a man named Jonah. Jonah was an Israelite. And according to this particular story, Jonah’s God tells Jonah to take a message to the great city Nineveh.
And Nineveh was in…Assyria.
Assyria? Our worst enemy? Those hated infidels who have made life for our people a living hell time and time again? You want me to go into the center of the beast-and do something good for them? Seriously?
Jonah wants nothing of it and so he heads to the nearest port, jumps on a ship, and sails in the opposite direction.
Of course he does.
You’d get in a boat, too.
(Side note: Often this story is told in such a way that Jonah’s disobedience is the point of the first part, along the lines of See what happens when we don’t do what God tells us to do? But how do you imagine the first audiences would have reacted to this story when Jonah won’t go to Nineveh? They hated the Assyrians. Would they have focused on his disobedience or would they have cheered him on because they could totally relate?)
So he gets on the boat, a storm comes, there’s a discussion among the crew about the cause of the storm, they determine he’s the problem, they throw him overboard, he’s swallowed by a fish, he prays in the belly of the fish, the fish spits him out, he then goes to Nineveh, the Ninevites are fantastically receptive to his message, and then the story ends with him so depressed he wants to kill himself because of a gourd.
(You can’t make this stuff up.)
There’s so much here, where do I start? We’ll get to the swallowed by a fish part shortly, but first, I’ll start with the sheer strangenessof this story.
You would assume that a story told by Israelites about Assyrians would stick to fairly straightforward categories of good and bad, right and wrong, righteous and evil.
But the Israelite in this story, the one who supposedly follows God, runs in the opposite direction from God. The word that’s used is flee. Jonah flees. He then ends up on a boat full of “pagan/heathen” sailors who pray.
And while they’re praying for the storm to stop Jonah doesn’t pray at all. Jonah sleeps.
The pagan, heathen sailors ask all sorts of questions trying to figure out why this storm has come on them, only to discover that Jonah is the problem, something Jonah knew all along.
And then, when he finally does get to Nineveh, after he’s resisted God again and again, these horrible, mean, nasty Assyrians turn out to be open to God’s message, really open-so open that the king orders
…Let man and beast be covered in sackcloth.
Sackcloth was what you wore when you were crying out to God, when you were acutely aware of your sins, when you were asking for God’s mercy. The king orders everybody to repent and wear sackcloth-including the animals!
(Animals repenting? Wha….? A fairly surreal detail, to say the least. One of the many hints that the author has a larger point in mind…a point we’ll get to shortly.)
(Another point about that point: when you read the Bible, embrace the weird parts. Animals wearing sackcloth is weird. Take note of the strange parts because they’re usually there for a reason…)
We’re familiar in the modern world with frameworks that see things in dualistic terms: there are the good people, and then there are the bad people, there is the right thing to do, there is the wrong thing to do, there are the people who need saving, and then there are people who do the saving.
But in this story the categories are all scrambled. The supposedly righteous Israelite is defiant and lazy and generally prickish (is that a word?) while the supposedly evil and wicked heathens are receptive and open to God’s message for them.
And then, in the end, after Jonah has had a change of heart and he’s seen this massive, miraculous change of heart in the Ninevites right before his eyes, he’s so upset by it that he wants to die.
He says to God
I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.
And then he adds
Now LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.
What a bizarre story.
A story in which none of the characters do what you’d expect them to do. Which raises the questions
So why did this story survive?
What did people find this story important and worth telling and preserving?
What does it tell us about how they understand who they are and who God?
First, this story is about a man, but it’s about a nation. Jonah doesn’t want to go to Nineveh because the Assyrians had treated Israelites horribly. The story asks the question
Can Jonah forgive the Assyrians?
which is really the question
Can Israel forgive the Assyrians?
Jonah is angry at the end,
angry that God has been so kind to them.
Of course Jonah is angry.
When you haven’t forgiven someone who has wronged you and then something good happens to them-when they are blessed or shown mercy or experience favor-it’s infuriating.
Which leads us to a larger theme of the Bible: According to the story that’s been unfolding up until Jonah gets on a boat, Israel had a calling from early in its history (Genesis 12 to be more precise) to be a light to the world, to show the world the redeeming love of God.
A calling they haven’t lived up to.
There’s a question, then, that lurks in the story of Jonah:
Can you forgive your worst enemy and be a channel through which God’s redeeming love can flow to them?
It’s a question for Jonah
it’s the question for Israel.
This is why the book of Jonah doesn’t end with a conclusion or a judgment or details about what Jonah does next.
The book ends with a question, a question God has for Jonah: Should I not be concerned about that great city?
It’s a question for the Jonah character in the story,
but at a far more significant level it’s a question the author is asking the audience, an audience who we can only assume would have had many, many personal reasons to answer…
That said, what about the fish part?
Next: What is the Bible? Part 4: Fish#2
Part 2: Flood
Let’s talk about floods. Because the ancients did. The Sumerians told flood stories, the Mesopotamians told flood stories, the Babylonians told flood stories-stories about water and it’s destructive power to wipe out towns, cities, civilizations, and people were not unusual in the ancient world.
There were even stories about people building boats to survive these floods.
In these flood stories, all that water coming to destroy humanity was understood to be divine judgment for all of the ways people had made a mess of things. The gods are angry, it was believed, and a flood was their way of clearing the deck to start over.
For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth…[Genesis 7]
So when we come to a story about a flood in the book of Genesis, it’s not that unusual. This flood story is like the other flood stories because this god is like the other gods-fed up with the depravity of humanity, unleashing divine wrath in the form of a flood.
But then this story does something strange. It ends with the divine insistence that’s never going to happen again.
And then this God brings a rainbow and a promise and a covenant.
A covenant. A covenant is an agreement, an oath, a relational bond between two beings who belong to each other.
This was not how the other flood stories ended. In those stories, the gods are angry and everybody dies and the gods are satisfied. End of story.
But this god is different. This god commits to living with people in a new way, a way in which life is preserved and respected.
So why was this particular story told?
Why did this story matter?
Why did it endure?
First, imagine if you had no pictures of earth from outer space, no weather reports, no Google images, no airplanes-imagine if you’d never been more than a few miles from where you were born. And then imagine water-massive, undulating, swirling, terrifying water-coming at you out of nowhere and wiping your entire life away.
Imagine what that would do to your psyche.
You would do what we do whenever we suffer-you’d look for causes. And in the ancient world, it was generally agreed upon that the forces that caused these kind of things were the gods who had had it up to here with humans and all their backstabbing, depraved ways and had decided to unleash their wrath.
That’s how people saw the world.
But then there’s a twist: this story starts in a familiar way, a way that people would have heard before, but then it heads in a different direction. A very different direction, a direction involving rainbows and oaths and covenants.
This was not how people talked about the gods.
The gods are pissed off-that’s how people understood the gods.
But this story, this story is about a God who wants to relate-
A God who wants to save-
A God who wants to live in covenant…
This story is about a new view of God.
Not a God who wants to wipe people out,
but a God who wants to live in relationship.
So yes, it’s a primitive story.
Of course it is.
It’s a really, really old story.
It reflects how people saw the word and explained what was happening around them.
But to dismiss this story as ancient and primitive is to miss that at the time this story was first told it was a mind blowing new conception of a better, kinder, more peaceful God who’s greatest intention for humanity is not violence but love.
It’s primitive, but it’s also really, really progressive.
One more thought, this one about unicorns.
(How great was that sentence?)
You’ll often hear people talk about stories from the Bible such as this one with a certain rolling of the eyes, as in can you believe people still believe this stuff?
Much of this cynicism is due to the way stories like these have been told-often by well meaning religious people trying to prove that there actually were two animals at a time that went in to an ark and
Yes, the boat really was big enough
Of course God had a plan for where to put the elephant poo.
That sort of thing. What this stilted literalism does, in its efforts to take the story seriously, is often miss the point of the story. This story was a major leap forward in human consciousness, a breakthrough in how people conceived of the divine, another step toward a less violent, more relational understanding of the divine.
It starts like the other flood stories started,
but then it goes somewhere different.
Now from floods, let’s talk about fish.
Specifically, fish that swallow people for three days and then vomit them up.
Next - What is the Bible? Part 3: Fish
Part 1. Someone Wrote Something
I’ve had a number of conversations recently that somehow led to the Bible. I say somehow because these weren’t conversations with particularly religious friends, and yet what they talked about was their interest in the Bible.
For some, they readily acknowledge that this particular library of books (Yes, it’s a library. More on that later…) has deeply shaped western civilization in countless ways and yet they haven’t the foggiest notion what it’s actually about other than vague references to David killing Goliath (Although in the book of 2 Samuel it’s written that a man named Elhanan killed Goliath) or ominous warnings about the end of the world (Like in the recent movie This Is The End where Jay Baruchel keeps reading passages from the book of Revelation to Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill and James Franco-as if that’s the book to help you understand why the sinkhole in your front yard just swallowed up Rihanna…) or stories about Jesus doing things like turning water into wine (Really? That’s his first miracle? He makes it possible for people to keep drinking for days on end? Is this why Jesus was accused of being a drunk?)
For others, they’ve heard someone quote the Bible and something about what the person said made them think there’s no way that it actually says that. And yet they don’t have some better or more informed way to counter the explanation they heard other than you can’t be serious, that’s crazy.
And then for others, the Bible caught them off guard. They had an experience, they tasted something, they felt something, they endured something-and they discovered in the Bible language for what they’d experienced. They were wronged by someone and in moments of honesty realized that they wanted that person to die in a violent and gruesome fashion-only to discover these exact impulses described in vivid detail in the Psalms. How is it that someone writing thousands of years ago in a different place in a different language in a different culture could describe with such startling detail exactly what I’m feeling here and now in the modern world? How could something so many have discarded as irrelevant be at times so shockingly relevant?
Questions I’ll get to.
I’ll start with how the bible came to be The Bible,
then I’ll write about
all in order to explore what’s going on just below the surface of the stories in the Bible.
Then I’ll address some of the ways many people were taught to think and talk about the Bible-
as God’s word, The Good Book, the living word, principles for living, The Word, the absolute standard, THE INERRANT TRUTH ABOUT WHICH THERE CAN BE NO COMPROMISE, God’s view on things, the ultimate owners manual, and so on
-and why those ways of thinking and talking about the Bible aren’t working like they used to for lots and lots and lots of people.
All of which will lead me to articulate a way of understanding the Bible in which your mind and your heart are both fully engaged as you see it and read it for what it is-a funky, ancient, poetic, revolting, provocative, mysterious, revelatory, scandalous and inspired collection of books called The Bible that tell a story, a story I want you to hear.
First, then, a bit about how we got the Bible.
Someone wrote something down.
Obvious, but true. And an important starting point.
The Bible did not drop out of the sky, it was written by people.
Again, obvious, but it helps ground us in how to begin thinking about what the Bible is. Many of the stories in the Bible began as oral traditions, handed down from generation to generation until someone collected them, edited them, and actually wrote them down, sometimes hundreds of years later. That’s years and years of people sitting around fires and walking along hot dusty roads and gathering together to hear and discuss and debate and wrestle with these stories.
The people who wrote these books had lots of material to choose from. There were lots of stories floating around, lots of accounts being handed down, lots of material to include. Or not include.
(There’s a line in the Old Testament book of 1 Kings 11 where the author writes
As for the other events of Solomon’s reign-all he did and the wisdom he displayed-are they not written in the book of the annals of Solomon?
Well, yes, I guess they are…it’s just that we have no idea what the author is referring to. Interesting the assumption on the author’s part that not only do we know this, but that we have access to these annals. Which we don’t.
We see something similar in the gospel of John where it’s written
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of disciples, which are not recorded in this book
and then the book ends with this line:
Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
It’s as if the writer, just to wrap things up, adds Oh yeah, I left a ton of stuff out.)
The authors of the books of the Bible, then, weren’t just writing, they were selecting and editing and making a multitude of decisions about what material and content furthered their purposes in writing and what didn’t.
These writers had agendas.
Luke: I too decided to write an orderly account for you…
The Book of Esther: This is what happened…
John: These are written that you may believe…
There were points they wanted to make, things they wanted their readers to see, insights they wanted to share. These writers, it’s important to point out, were real people living in real places at real times. And their purposes and intents and agendas were shaped by their times and places and contexts and economies and politics and religion and technology and countless other factors.
What does it tell us about the world Abraham lived in that when he’s told to offer his son as a sacrifice he sets out to do it as if it’s a natural thing for a god to ask…?
The David and Goliath story starts with technology-the Philistines had a new kind of metal, the Israelites didn’t. The story is undergirded by the primal fear that comes when your neighbor has weapons that you don’t have-like spears. Or guns. Or bombs.
Why does the Apostle Peter use the phrase there is no other name under heaven…? Where did he get this phrase and what images from military propaganda would it have brought to mind for his listeners?
writing in real places,
at real times,
choosing to include some material,
choosing to leave out other material,
all because they had stories to tell.
That said, two thoughts to wrap this introduction section up:
First, for some the Bible is just a collection of old books. Books written by people, and nothing more. For others, the Bible is a collection of books, but it’s also more than just a collection of books. They’re books, but they’re more than just books.
We’ll get to words like inspiration and revelation and God-breathed later (which I’m a believer in-but I’m getting ahead of myself), but for now it’s important to begin by stating the obvious: The Bible is first, before anything else, a library of books written by humans.
I say this because there is a stilted literalism that many have encountered in regards to the Bible that makes great claims about it’s divinity and inspiration and perfection but then doesn’t know what to do with it’s humanity.
Why do the four resurrection accounts in the gospels differ on basic details?
Why aren’t there any clear denunciations of polygamy? Or slavery?
Why does Paul say in the New Testament that it’s him speaking, not the Lord…?
When people charge in with great insistence that this is God’s word all the while neglecting the very real humanity of these books, they can inadvertently rob these writings of their sacred power.
All because of starting in the wrong place.
You start with the human. You ask those questions, you enter there, you direct your energies to understanding why these people wrote these books.
Because whatever divine you find in it, you find that divine through the human, not around it.
(I should play my hand here just a bit on where I want to take you: If you let go of the divine nature of the Bible on the front end and immerse yourself in the humanity of it, you find the divine in unexpected ways, ways that can actually transform your heart. Which is the point, right?)
Second, a bit about questions.
Often, especially when people come to a particular strange or gruesome or inexplicable passage, they’ll ask
Why did God say this?
The problem with this question is that it can leave you tied up in all kinds of knots. (Really? God told them to kill all the women and children? God did? And we’re supposed to accept that, well, that’s just how God is?)
That sort of thing.
The better question is:
Why did people find it important to tell this story?
What was it that moved them to record these words?
What was happening in the world at that time?
What does this passage/story/poem/verse/book tell us about how people understood who they were and who God is at that time?
What’s the story that’s unfolding here and why did these people think it was the story worth telling?
Let’s take one of those stories-
the one about a flood-
and ask these sorts of questions.
Next - What is the Bible? Part 2: Flood.
Just a heads up, i’m gonna be spamming some awesome Rob Bell posts he’s recently put out about the Bible.
They’re thoughtful, and i think their focus is dead-on.
Especially Part 3, about Jonah being swallowed by a fish (debating whether a person called Johan was once eaten by a fish and lived in it’s stomach for 3 days is a massive adventure in missing the point completely), it’s really awesome to see the story from the right perspective, and to gain the true message of the story.
They’re a bit long, but well worth the read - please try and read at very least Part 3, if not all of them!