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Patterns: Reading Scripture as a Spiritual Discipline

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Short summary about what the Bible is and where it came from.

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The Bible; what is it?

If we’re going to read the book, we should know what it is that we’re reading.
The basics go like this for the Protestant tradition Bible most of hold in our hands or access through an electronic device:

The Bible is a COLLECTION OF LITERATURE with a HISTORY

The word “bible” comes from Latin and Greek words for “book”. But, the Bible is really a collection of literature.
There 66 books or literary works arranged in collections of genres rather than in chronological order. Some of these books cross genres. Some of theses works are history, poetry, narrative story telling, personal letters amongst friends, apocolyptic literature, etc.
There are over 40 authors contributing to the works in the Bible, all writing their works within approximately 1500 years from many locations across Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Our collection is split up into two main sections that we refere to as the Old and New Testaments, but the collection of books has come to us from a few different traditions and hasn’t always been arranged in the order we read it today.
From Genesis to Revelation, these writings tell a unified story of God’s creation and the redemption of all things in His creation.

The Bible is INSPIRED

The writing of the Bible took place within a 1500 year time period.
We believe that these writings are unified because we also believe that the Bible is inspired.
When we talk about inspiration, try not to think of a a big leatherbound book falling from the skies into our laps to be used like an advice manual. Instead, think about how God has uniquely gifted individuals to carry His truth through their experiences and allowed them to express that truth in unique circumstances, contexts, and styles.
There are always at least two authors at work in the Scriptures. There is God, the capital “A” Author and a human, the lowercase “a” author. The Bible is like Jesus, it is a collection of documents that are both human and divine. It is a collection of inspired writings with relevant and useful wisdom in any age.

The Bible is AUTHORITATIVE

When we say that the Bible is authoritative, we’re saying that it is the the ultimate source for truth. So, if we are looking for something to measure right or wrong against, we go to the final authority. That’s why you hear Mike often say, not just to take his word for it when he teaches you from the Bible, but test his words against the text.
The collection of books in our Bible is called a “canon.” Canon is a word that means “according to the rule” or “according to the measure”. Our biblical canon comes to us through a history of use and experience.
Our Old Testament was agreed upon for the most part by the time of Jesus and already collected and arranged.
The New Testament books gradually claimed canon status by meeting three major criteria:
Apostolic Origin: A NT book could be considered canon if it could be determined that it orginiated with a direct apostle of Jesus or under the direct supervision of a direct apostle of Jesus.
They were:
Universal Usage: That book or letter would then have to show a history of being useful and used by the majority of the early churches.
Universal Content: That book or letter’s content couldn’t be in disagreement with doctrinal truths found in the rest of the Bible. Basically, if the NT writings agreed with the truth of the OT and came from a source connected to Jesus, they are also considered inspired and authoritative for guiding the church. The church didn’t control the canon, the canon controls the church.

The Bible is TRUSTWORTHY

Finally, can we trust that we’re reading what they actually wrote? We don’t have time to dig into the weeds of how we determine that the translations we’re reading are to be trusted, but I’ll leave you with a few points of data that should aim you in the right direction. If you’re interested in this stuff. Get with me sometime this week and I’ll give you some great resources.
We use a process of manuscript evidence and textual criticism to determine the validity of ancient text. We have over 5600 copied manuscripts of the NT to compare for realibility that agree with 99.5% accuracy from multiple languages, locations, and time frames that come to us within 50 - 200 years of the original writings and we just keep finding more. To put that into perspective a little, we only use 7-10 copies of manuscripts that are within 800 - 1000 years of the original writings for Plato and the Roman and Greek history that comprise our high school history textbooks. To say that we have in this collection of literature is trustworthy and reliable is an understatement. The Bible we read today is extremely reliable to the original text and authoritative because it is God’s inspired words given to humans by humans.
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