The picture below is a screen capture from my iPhone. It is taken from an app that links with the website Goodreads.com. Goodreads is a social media site designed to track progress, share review, and explore in general books. You can keep up with what you are currently reading, offer mid-book reviews, see what your friends are reading, etc…
As the Bible is a book that I have committed to read for the rest of my life I figure that at worst I will always have at least one book on my “currently reading” shelf. Though I read quite a bit on electronic devices these days I do still read the leather bound journalling ESV Bible that I got a few years ago. The lined margins continue to be filled up with dates, questions, comments, and hopefully a few insights along the way. It’s hard to find very many pages that haven’t been highlighted or underlined or filled with arrows connecting related thoughts. I have spent many nights and mornings, afternoons and evenings with that Bible and I hope to spend many more in the future.
All of that being said, I had completely missed the fact that in the Goodreads.com library, the ESV Bible is understood to be authored by “Anonymous”. I just saw this today as I was updating a location in another book I’m reading.
I was curious as to what other books were written by Anonymous and as it turns out, Anonymous has been pretty busy. “The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights” is written by Anonymous along with “The Epic of Gilgamesh”. “The Bhagavad Gita”, “The Quran”, and “Popol Vuh: The Definitive Edition of the Mayan Books of the Dawn of Life and the Glories of” were all penned by Anonymous. One that caught me leaning a different direction was “The Torah: The Five Books of Moses”. I guess I was thinking the title indicated that they were by…uhm…Moses; but either Moses is a pen-name or the Torah was ghost written – at any rate, it was credited to Anonymous.
I suppose this was important to me, not because Goodreads should be held to a doctrine of inspiration, but because I wonder if this isn’t how a lot of people practically see the Bible. If you ask most Christians who wrote the Bible, you could be in for a long list of names (David, Moses, Luke, Paul, etc…) or you could get the broader answer, “God the Holy Spirit”. But when people sit down to actually read the Bible (which is more rare than we probably know) I kind of wonder if they don’t pragmatically see it as a book of history, wisdom, or even as just something that Christians are supposed to read. Any of those approaches basically proves Goodreads right.
The frightening thing is to lean the other direction. What if the author isn’t Anonymous? What if the author is actually God? Why is that frightening? Because when the book was written, if God is the author, then He wrote knowing exactly who you and I would be, when we would be reading it, how the world would look and feel while we were reading it, what our lives and situations and problems and troubles would be in the moments that we opened it looking for wisdom, help, enhancement, salvation, etc… If God – the sovereign, eternal, omniscient God – wrote this book knowing that you would read it, wouldn’t it be true that He wrote it with you in mind? Wouldn’t that make the Bible, at least somewhat, like a letter written to billions of individual people, inexplicably unique to each one? Would the stories that He tells, or the dialogue that He chooses to include maybe mean more to us if we really believed that He wrote it for our benefit? Would Leviticus and Numbers be as boring and arduous if we actually though that He could have trimmed those up in the final edit, but intentionally left in so that we would read them?
Today I’d just like to pose the possibility that the Bible was not only written for us all, but it was written for you. Does it feel different if it wasn’t merely written for everyone in general but each of us in particular? And how does that change what you’ve read or will read (or should be reading)?