Christian Relaunch

The Bible

"I am a simpleton, am I, to quote such an exploded book as Genesis? My good wiseacre readers, I know as many flaws in the book of Genesis as the best of you, but I knew the book before I knew its flaws, while you know the flaws, and never have known the book."

John Ruskin, Fors Clavigera, Letter #41 (May 1874).

The (Christian) Bible has two parts.

Calling these parts "testaments" is a mistranslation of a word that really means "covenants", but the error is too embedded to be worth fighting here, so I follow the convention of "OT" and "NT".

(1) The Tanakh, a record of ancient Israel's awareness of God, known among Christianoids as the "Old Testament" ("OT") but among Israelites simply as "the Bible".

(2) The New Testament ("NT"), the extant writings of the first generation of Christianoids.

The NT expresses its authors' experience of God. It records how God came among us. As highlights, I suggest Matthew 5-7; Mark; John; Acts 1-2; Romans 1-8 and 12; 1st Corinthians 15; 1st John; and Revelation (aka "Apocalypse") 21-22. And the Everest of these, the Bible's most comprehensive statement of principles, is Romans.

But the New shines even more clearly with the Old as background. I suggest Genesis 1:1-12:3; Exodus 1-20; 2nd Samuel 7; Amos; Jeremiah 31:31-34; and Isaiah 52:13-53:12. And in Acts 7 and Hebrews 11 the NT itself describes the highlights of the Old.

For a fuller abridgment I suggest Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1st Samuel, Amos, Hosea, Psalms 1-41 ("Book 1"), Ecclesiastes, The Song of Songs and the whole NT. (This is off the top of my head. If you want a more careful abridgment let me know.)

The NT, and to some degree the whole Bible, presents a consistent and coherent view. Apart from checking the translation, the chief defense against error is context; we must read the whole chapter (sometimes the whole "book", and preferably the whole Bible), and not base doctrines on brief quotations. Most of the errors of Christianoidity arise from neglect or misinterpretation of the Bible.

On the other hand, the opposite error, Biblicism, regards every detail of the Bible as reliable.

Biblicism is akin to a form of Docetism (an Atheanthroposial heresy) known as Apollinarianism. It conduces to some unsustainable beliefs. Not that anything in the Bible, properly understood, definitely contradicts real Christianity, but occasionally it is less than clear, and simple acceptance of what seems to be the obvious meaning may lead us astray.

This site contains many quotations from the Bible.

I mainly use the Revised Standard Version, but where I consider that to be misleading I use other translations, including occasionally my own.

For the Hebrew YHWH (the "Tetragrammaton") I use "Yahweh", which seems the likeliest original pronunciation. The practice of circumlocution (writing and saying "the LORD" instead) arose from superstition masquerading as reverence. The earliest extant copies of the New Testament circumlocuted, but the authors may not have done so. Even if they did, and even if rightly, it need not follow that we should do likewise, for they were probably quoting a generally accepted translation. In the days when everyone knew the King James Bible there may have been a case for following their example, but today less so.

If addressing Christianoid readers I usually just cite book-chapter-verse; if a wider readership, I will probably also mention author and date.

Back to Bibliography.