Posts Tagged ‘digital Bible’

Holy BibleWhat could be holier than the Bible?  After all, that’s its title Holy Bible!  I looked up “holy books” in Wikipedia and was shocked to find literally hundreds listed. Of course, the Bible was included—but even what I assume is The Bible is murky.  Apparently Protestants have 66 books, but Catholics have 73 and two more in the appendix. The Eastern Orthodox church adds three more to the Catholic canon, and the Georgian Orthodox still one more.  The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the Eritrean Orthodox Church include still more books, including 4 Esdras, the Book of Jubilees1 Enoch4 Baruch, and 1, 2, and 3 Meqabyan (no relation to the Books of Maccabees), and some Syrian Orthodox churches accept the Book of Baruch as holy scripture.

I was watching an episode of Homeland a couple of weeks ago, and it portrayed one of the main characters ritually burying his copy of the Koran because it had been thrown on the floor and defiled.  Afghanistan, Somalia, and Pakistan have had laws making desecration of the Koran punishable by life imprisonment or death.

That’s really holy!  That is much holier than most of us consider our Bibles.

In fact, have you noticed a trend in trying to make The Bible not quite so holy—mostly for commercial reasons, I suspect.  In almost any Christian bookstore, you can find now myriad special versions of the Bible, such as NIV Boys Backpack Bible, NIV Faithgirlz Bible, Adventure Bible, NIV Revolution: The Bible for Teen Guys, Sequin Bible, NIV Green Camo Backpack Bible, God’s Little Princess Devotional Bible—shall I go on?

Yesterday at lunch after church, while munching on chips and salsa, three young dads and I got into a conversation about Bibles. One father raised the question of whether we should be instilling in our children the love and practice of using and carrying a printed Bible, or should we “lower our standards” and allow Bible apps and electronic book versions of the Bible on whatever device they carry, i.e., for most of their kids, their smartphones?

This is a very tech-savvy guy who raised the question, not a Ludite. I quickly realized this is not an anti-technology question, but rather a question about our personal relationship to our personal Bibles.

Intellectually, we all agreed that electronic devices and screens are here to stay and that printed books are going the way of 78 rpm records. But this answer did not seem entirely satisfying for several reasons:

  • Our printed Bibles have been part of our testimony.  You left it on your desk at work or on the coffee table at home as a declaration of faith.
  • Our printed Bibles have contained our history, not only family history, but often our spiritual history as we underline, highlight, and take notes.
  • Our printed Bibles have measured our spiritual growth. The more worn our Bible, the more obvious to us and others that it is well used.
  • Printed Bibles have been personalized gifts. I received a beautiful leather Bible as a gift from our local preacher for my first sermon preached when I was 15 years old. We give little Bibles to babies, white Bibles for wedding gifts, and inscribed Bibles for graduations and baptisms.

Our relationship to our Bibles has been very personal–and inevitably that will change in the digital age.

I do see, however, the potential for learning an important lesson with the impending change; that is, we will either learn or remember that not the book itself, nor our relationship with our book, nor how we use that book, nor what we invest in that book is holy; rather, the Word of God is holy.

The Koran is not so different from the Bible, but is very different from the Word of God. The holiness of the Chaitanya Bhagavata (Krishna-karnamrita) is created and imposed upon it by religious teachers; the holiness of God’s words is created by the holiness of God.

Our Bible is not holy. God is holy.

Neither the form nor the title nor the translation, nor the color of the book that we own brings holiness into our lives and our homes, but rather the breath (inspiration) of God, spoken into our lives, yes and absolutely through the written word, but only if that written word is the living Word.  The living Word in us!

The Holy Word fills us, dwells in us, then we too become holy.

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