I got a gift card to Barnes and Noble for my birthday, and so my Mom and I went this afternoon. Generally I enjoy going to the bookstore, and typically get a little overwhelmed because I hardly know where to begin my search for a good book. So I roam the shelves peering for some insightful read and I come across a book, The Shooters Bible. Now, I am not marksmen, but I paused at this book for a moment. Of course, it was no Bible but an almanac of weaponry and how to use it. There is nothing inherently wrong with a book about guns, and nothing particularly wrong with this book, but I do take a qualm with it’s name–or at least its implications.
This is one book among many that implies something about the Bible, as though it is an almanac or encyclopedia. I would agree that the Bible can give some serious insight into life and how to live, but in an entirely different fashion than would an encyclopedia or an almanac. You see, I would hesitate to call an encyclopedia literature but rather a reference, and perhaps that is a type of literature but not necessarily in a more traditional sense. In contrast, the Bible is not a reference book with instant answers, but literature. The Bible is an anthology of ancient literature over the course of several thousand years by different men in different times and different genres. And unlike an encyclopedia, you cannot shake out propositional truths from scripture. You must work through the text, the genre and the context. The author may be trying to comunicate some truth, but you need to follow the path that they have marked to reach their point. Otherwise we reach a skewed point and an abuse of both scripture and literature.