Ever wonder “Why was the Bible written?”
But whether you have wondered this or not, here is the answer: It wasn’t.
The Bible was Never Written
No, I am not falling into some mystical religious explanation where I believe that the Bible has eternally existed in heaven or in the mind of God (though many Christians actually believe this), or that the Bible fell out of the sky on stone tablets or golden plates (like some other religions believe about their Scriptures).
No, all I am saying is that the Bible — as you find it on your shelf, or desk, or bedside stand, or wherever — was never written.
How then did it end up on your shelf, your desk, or your bedside stand?
Ah, well, that is a long story indeed. Too long to tell here. But when it comes to the question of “Why was the Bible written?” there never was a time in the long history of the Bible that someone (or even a group of someones) sat down and said, “I’m going to write the Bible.”
This is what I mean when I say that the Bible was never written. We must not ever think of it like a novel, or a history book, or a science book that was written by a person or a group of people to make a particular point to a particular audience.
Why Was the Bible Written?
So the question, “Why was the Bible written?” makes no sense when you understand the nature and content of the Bible. To use my analogy from yesterday about movies, it would be like asking, “Why were movies made?” It cannot be answered. At least, not definitively. I suppose some generic answer could be provided about movies, such as “To entertain” or “To tell a story” but even these answers don’t fit all movies.
The same goes for Scripture. When asking, “Why was the Bible written?” there is no answer that fits all the individual books of the Bible. Sure, some generic answer can be proposed, such as “To tell a story” or “To tell us about God” but these do not fit all the books, and even if they did, are so unhelpful, they qualify as a non-answer.
I suppose, rather than ask, “Why was the Bible written?” it might be more fruitful to ask, “Why was the Bible compiled?” Now there is an interesting question with interesting answers. But that question will have to wait until we talk about the Canonization of Scripture later in this series.
For the purpose of this post, I don’t think a suitable answer exists to the question, “Why was the Bible written?” because the question begins the wrong view about Scripture. The Bible was never written. It is not that kind of book.
It is closer to a collection of books, but even that is not accurate, as most of the “books” are not “books” at all, but are letters, or chronicles of events, or even collections themselves of poems and pithy sayings.
Why were Individual Books of the Bible Written?
Which raises a different point. If we cannot ask, “Why was the Bible written?” maybe we can at least ask, “Why were individual books written?” Books like Genesis. Or Romans. Or Revelation. These are better questions, for these are documents that were actually written, and they do, I believe, have purposes. We can ask, “Why was Genesis written?” or “Why was Romans written?” and find some answers. We may not all agree on the answers, but at least we are making some headway on finding the right questions. In the search for truth, the right question is half the answer.
So where are we on our question? We cannot ask “Why was the Bible written?” because it never was. But we can ask, “Why were individual books of the Bible written?” and to this question, we can attempt to find answers. I am not going to try to do that here as it would take hundreds of blog posts.
Instead, however, we have now arrived at the place where we can approach the third issue I raised yesterday. We wanted to know how the Bible functions, why the Bible was written, and how the Bible presents truth. We have addressed the first two; we will look at the third tomorrow.