Who Reads the Bible and Why Read the Bible?

“Who Reads the Bible?” by Andrew J. Shcatkin

The Bible is a very old book. In fact, it is an ancient book and some of it dates back to 1500 BC in its present written form. It consists of the Hebrew scriptures which claim to be God’s covenant and dealings with the people of Israel and the New Testament which claims to relate the life of Jesus of Nazareth, his deeds, his sayings, his death, resurrection, and a number of letters, in particular the Epistles of Paul. For a long time in the English-speaking world, the Bible was very widely read. Sad to say, this is no longer the case at least in the Western world where the Bible is no longer widely read and in fact read only by a minority. Certainly, it is not read and credited by the so-called intellectual elite.

This is not surprising where prosperity perhaps results in less faith and belief. There is one group and, by far, the largest, who have no interest in reading or knowing the Bible and may be said to be indifferent. In fact, this group is indifferent to most old books and literature such as Homer or the Greek tragedies. These uninformed people are quite happy and their ideas and thoughts, such as they are, come from some sort of absorption or osmosis from what the media, computers, and television may offer them. They may take up sensual freedom, materialism, greed, and avarice as their guideposts. The idea that anything in them that is wrong and requires repair by the eternal God or that their lives are empty and they are failed beings never occurs to them. These folks perhaps spend their lives getting as much sex and money as they can get. They might ask, what does this book of silly myths have any relevance to my latest Lexus?

The second group are those who read the Bible as a work of literature. They are a very thin minority. It is true that the Bible contains much great prose and poetry but I would challenge anyone to tell me, which would they soon grow tired of: the Psalms in English translation, or Plato in English translation. There are people who might read the Bible as literature in a college course but they are few in number. I think the Bible is little-read as literature because it is not meant to be literature but a revelation of God’s intervention in human history and a guide as to how we should live and obtain eternal life through faith in Christ. The Bible is little-read as literature because it is not meant to be literature.

The third group that reads the Bible and, by far the largest, are people who read the Bible as God’s revelation and what is ultimate and important. The Bible will always be read by persons all over the world as a revelation by God concerning his covenant with Israel and his new covenant with Christ.
The only reason to read the Bible, this group rightly concludes, is because it is true and not a fad or fashion. The works, acts, and sayings of Christ offer us eternal life a guide to moral perfection. No thinker has ever offered or said anything close to the Biblical vision or revelation.

The Bible will always be read by those who want to know who we are, what we should do with our lives, and where we are going. This minority of Bible readers will read the Bible not as literature, and not as an old, irrelevant book but the sum of the revelation from the eternal God to a failed, broken, and misdirected humanity in need of restoration – in a word, salvation.