Notes on the margins of old book

The Bible is not a book of doctrines

This entry is part 5 of 23 in the series Via Negativa

Anyone who has seriously read their bible knows this is true. There are no clear doctrines found in the bible. If this was the case then all churches would adhere to the same set of doctrines but as we all know the universal Christian church has split into countless fractions all over tiny (or sometimes not so tiny) differences in

If there was a way to just read scripture and distill a simple teaching from it, it would have been done, and we would all be in agreement as to what the text actually says. The bible is not the word of god (logos) however we read the new testament the scriptures seem to say that Jesus is the living word of god. The bible does not mention the bible, mainly because the bible did not exist when the bible was written. When the bible mentions the scriptures it refers to the Jewish TANAK and not the new testament gospels and epistles.

So if the bible is not a book of doctrines, not a clear document detailing what we should or should not believe, what is the bible then?

The bible is not one book, it is 66 (or more) ancients documents bound together in a library.
The bible is not written by one person, Many of the text have several different authors and have also been edited over time.
The texts in the bible do not belong to the same genre. Some texts are mythical, some are historical accounts, some are poetry, some are allegorical, some are instructional, some are informational, some are liturgical and some are very informal. We cannot read every text in this diverse collection the same way.
The texts in the bible are written in various different historical contexts, these must be taken into account for full understanding of the meaning of the text.

In my opinion the best way to see the bible is to treat is as the witness of gods love and care throughout the generations. It is the testimony of those who have gone before us. It is the narratives, the stories of our tradition. It unparalleled in value and it is precious to us and at the same time we must be careful not to make the sacred text into an idol, or a law book, or a prooftext, or a living thing. The bible only comes alive when infused with the spirit of the divine, something (or someone) that we bring to the text. The bible is dead on the shelf, it is dead on the page but it comes alive in the hearts awakened to the divine source, to those who abide in love.

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