"The Rise and Fall of the Bible": Rethinking the Good Book

Recently I found myself explaining to a group of surprised friends from Protestant and secular backgrounds that, despite being educated in the Catholic faith up to the sacrament of confirmation at age 14, I didn't read the Old Testament until I was assigned it in a college literature course. Traditionally, the Catholic Church did not encourage its congregation to read the Bible; we had the priests to explain it to us. In fact, the church once took such a dim view of the idea that, in 1536, the English reformer William Tyndale was tried for heresy, strangled and burned at the stake, largely for translating the Bible into English for a lay readership. Tyndale House, a major American Christian publisher, is named after him.

Though I'm no longer a believer, and in principle I support the notion of adherents to a religion familiarizing themselves with its scriptures, it sometimes seems like the old Vatican had a point. In his new book, "The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book," religion professor Timothy Beal describes all the angst and doubt that Bible reading provoked in him during his youth, as well as the frustration many American Christians experience as a result of their own encounters with the book. This doesn't prevent them from buying truckloads of the things -- Beal notes that "the average Christian household owns nine Bibles and purchases at least one new Bible every year" -- but actually reading them is another matter. Beal believes that's because today's Christians are seeking a certainty in their holy book that simply isn't there, and shouldn't be.

Full article at Salon.com

Comments

Bible

I found that books on apologetics were very helpful in explaining what I didnt understand. But, back in those times, most people did not read. The message was spread by word of mouth and accepted by faith. Within the Bible, problem areas can be explained--you may want to start with books on apologetics.
It is a very simple message with eternal consequences. If there is any doubt, look into it further. Every religion cannot be true since truth cannot contradict itself. And there is a truth out there.

Bible

Your view point is very interesting and I am sorry you no longer believe. Since I do believe I was compelled to reply. I too am Catholic, although I am a Catholic convert as of age 25 and now at age 67 I have learned that everything you think you know it changes. I did want to say that in my parish the priests advocate the reading of the bible. I will be very interested in reading "The Rise & Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book" As I believe there are no accidents in life. After working as a librarian for 30 yrs. I know everyday is a learning experience.

Bible

Just to point out that Bibliofuture didn't write the commentary - it is an excerpt from the original article at Salon.com. This forty-something certainly agrees that everyday is a learning experience. I will never know everything in this life but I may in the next, and to others who disagree with a belief in an afterlife, no, my belief doesn't absolve me from helping solve problems in the here and now, nor give me justification to hate those who may not have the same beliefs as me.

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