To: All Jan-28-94 22:35:10 Subject: WHO WROTE THE

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From: Peter Vanderkam To: All Jan-28-94 22:35:10 Subject: WHO WROTE THE BIBLE? BIBLE INTRO. The Bible is said to be the "least known best-seller of all times". It continuous to be sold by the millions on a worldwide scale, while at the same time it is generally conceded that, especially in our Western society, acquaintance with the Bible is on the wane to such an extend that we now speak of a Bible illiterate generation. Now that religious education in our elementary schoolsystem is becoming a thing of the past (and I am speaking of the Canadian scene), this situation can only get worse. Whether that is good, bad, or indifferent, is a matter of one's point of view. In my considered opinion this is a real (if not tragic) loss. Why? In order to answer that question, we will have to take a look backwards in order to become aware of the influence the Bible (and its message) have had on society. We will subsequently have to take a closer look at what is happening today in order to assess how today's events can conceivably influence the future of our society. In general it can be said, without fear of too much contradiction, that the influence of religion on the behavior of people the world over has been, and is, tremendous. Notwithstanding the fact that an enormous amount of good has been done in the name of religion (including Christianity), it can't be denied that much of the violence perpetrated between nations today is religion based (including Christianity). We only have to think of what is happening in Yugoslavia, Armenia, Ireland, North Africa, Sri Lanka, Cambodia India/Pakistan and the Middle East, to know that religious strife is rampant. Seeing that this is an introduction to the Bible, we need to acquaint ourselves with the success/failure of the Bible and its message. A cursory glance at any world map, which shows the world religions as a percentage of the world population, makes it clear that Christianity is by far and away the largest among the world's great religions. It is clear from this that comparatively speaking the spread of Christianity has been phenominal. With over a billion adherents, its influence has been, and still is tremendous. What we need to keep in mind is that all that influence originated in reports which surrounded the life, death and resurrection of a Jew, named Jesus. He lived and died some two thousand years ago, but the story of that event, and its meaning, have been carried abroad by missionaries with the results just shown. That message ultimately came to be contained between the covers of a book, the Bible. It is with the relevance of the Bible that we are concerned today. There are certain events taking place on the spiritual level which are so well documented that they are accepted as facts. One of those facts is that Islam today is the fastest growing religion on a worldwide basis. Another fact is that teachers of other world religions are seeing the North American continent as a spiritual wasteland which has caused them to target the US and Canada as prime areas for new recruits. Yet another fact is that Christianity on the North American continent as well as in Europe is on the decline, whereas it is on the increase in otherworld countries. Whether those facts fill us with elation or trepidation, whether they fill us with sadness or joy is of little consequence. There is, however, no getting away from the fact that we Christians are under an obligation to tell the story, which is contained in the Bible, to the best of our ability, making use of the latest in technic and biblical research. Does that research, our increased technical know-how, and our greater secular sophistication threaten the Truth, either singly or together? My answer is: NO, they don't, but.... they may well force us to restate our centuries old story of the Good News. That, for many, is a scary proposition, but given the influence that book has had, and still has, and the responsibilities we individually as well as collectively carry, we have no other option than to engage in a thorough study of all the relevant material we can find, if only for the sake of the TRUTH! What research are we talking about? The research I speak of has been taking place in such diverse disciplines as History, Archaeology, Geology, Literature, Biology, and others. What new evidence has that research in those disciplines unearthed, and what is the nature of those findings that they could conceivably cause us to consider changing our belief statements? The findings in those fields of inquiry have enabled us to place the Bible in its historical context. From my own experience I can tell you that doing so is quite an experience. For instance, thanks to incredible historical and literary detective work, scholars of all stripes are now agreed that the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch) were not written by Moses, but are a composite of the writings of different authors who not only lived in different eras, but also lived in different parts of the country. That however is the topic of the next post. Peace Peter!

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