Friday, February 20, 2004

Thinking about bibles

Well I've fallen behind again on my updates. I keep trying for two a week but only get one. Sigh. Another discipline left lacking.

I was thinking about bibles the other day (it kept me from actually doing the work I had waiting). There have always been a bible around me if only the one given to me by my god parents at my baptism. It's a beautiful leather bound KJV with gilt edged onion skin pages. The Christmas passages in Luke are wrinkled from snow flakes that fell on them as I read the story around a campfire years ago. I don't remember why I was there or even where there was but I carry that reminder in my bible. To be honest that's about the only sign of use you'll find in that book. It has a very nice box with a maroon cover. The bible has resided most of its life inside that box safe and secure. Upon reflection I understand that in my mind I've always felt that it was far too valuable to just have lying around. I mean, it's THE BIBLE!

That's where my problem with bibles really begins. When I started my first serious bible study group my wife and I bought a brand new study bible. The first time someone suggested that I write questions or comments in the margins I was appalled! Whatta you nuts?!? It's THE BIBLE! Somehow that construct of paper, cloth, glue and ink had an aura around it that made it holy and untouchable and beyond mere mortals. I felt almost guilty just reading it. I am a man of unclean thoughts, hands, lips, eyes you name it. Jeez do they let just anybody start messing around with this thing?

As I've traveled a little farther on the journey I've discovered the answer to that question is "Why yes we do". And that really sets off other members of this family of faith. Which is a whole nother topic. This is an amazing book filled with incredible stories, many of which I'd never heard before or only heard parts of them (like drunk, naked Noah) It challenges me and confuses the hell out of me. I'm never quite sure what to do with all of it. The part that grabs me is the New Testament. The Hebrew bible portion is wonderful too, I keep a quote from it framed in my office (Isaiah 6:8). But it is the story of the Nazarene that captures me. I pore over the stories, comparing them wondering at their accuracy. Miracles, mistakes and masses of people. Who was this man and what does he want from me? And which version of the story is "right"? Hell, which one comes closest? I struggle with it and every time I read it I find something that hadn't dawned on me before.

I treat the physical bible with a lot less reverence these days. My study bible shows some serious wear and tear, and lots of notes! I read several different versions to get many different views of the thoughts contained in the words. And I've learned that I don't much care what the bible says but I'm very concerned with what the bible means. It's a hard book and a scary book. I'll keep on thinking about it and what it means. Maybe some day it'll all become clear to me.


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