By all measures, the Bible is a very old book. How old is it? The writing of the Bible began in the Middle East some 3,500 years ago. By comparison, that was during the time of the mighty Shang dynasty of China and about ten centuries before Buddhism started in India.
The Bible offers satisfying answers to life’s most important questions
If a book is to be a helpful and beneficial guide to people, it must be understandable and relevant to them. The Bible is just such a book. It offers satisfying answers to life’s most important questions.
For example, have you ever wondered, ‘Why are we here?’ That question has baffled man for thousands of years, and it still does. Yet, the answer can be found in the first two chapters of the first book of the Bible, Genesis. There the Bible account reaches back to “the beginning”
WRITTEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD
The Bible gives practical counsel to help us solve everyday problems. That counsel is easy to understand. This is so in two aspects.
First, the Bible’s language is clear, direct, and appealing. Rather than using many expressions that are abstract or mystical, the Biblical text uses words that are concrete or that relate to our senses. Difficult ideas are expressed by words that are common to our daily experience.
For example, Jesus used many simple illustrations based on people’s daily experience in order to teach lessons that touched their heart. Many of these are found in what is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount, which is recorded in chapters 5 to 7 of the Bible book of Matthew. Calling it “a practical discourse,” one commentator observed that its aim is “not to fill our heads with ideas, but to guide and regulate our practice.” You can read those chapters in perhaps 15 to 20 minutes, and you will be amazed to find how simple yet powerful Jesus’ words are.
Another factor that makes the Bible easy to understand is its subject matter. It is not a book of mythology or fables. Rather, for the most part, it is, as The World Book Encyclopedia puts it, “about both great and ordinary people” and their “struggles, hopes, failures, and triumphs.” It is easy for us to relate to these accounts of real people and events and to understand the vital lessons contained therein.
AVAILABLE TO ALL
For you to understand a book, it must be in a language that you know. Today it is likely that the Bible is available in a language you can understand, no matter where you live or what your nationality is. Consider what is involved in making that amazing feat possible.
Translation. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. That naturally limited the scope of its readership. In order to make the text available in other languages, tireless efforts have been made by sincere translators. Thanks to their labors, the Bible is now translated, in whole or in part, into about 2,700 languages. This means that over 90 percent of mankind can read at least some part of the Bible in their mother tongue.
Publishing. The original text of the Bible was written on perishable materials, such as leather and papyrus. To pass on the message, those writings had to be carefully copied and recopied by hand. Such copies were expensive, and few people could afford them. But with the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press over 550 years ago, circulation of the Bible greatly accelerated. According to one estimate, more than five billion copies of the Bible, in whole or in part, have been distributed.
No other religious text can compare with the Bible in these respects. Clearly, the Bible is a book to be understood. However, understanding it can be challenging. But help is available. Where can you find it? And how can you benefit? Find out in the following article.