It’s the most influential book in the history of the world. This is a bold statement, but consider that the Bible has inspired much of humanity’s greatest literature, art and films. It also gave us lasting expressions such as the writing on the wall, at your wit’s end, and eat, drink, and be merry.
But what kind of book is the Bible actually? First of all, it’s not one book; it’s 66 books written by 40 different authors over 1,600 years. This makes it markedly different from other religious texts like the Quran (written over 23 years by one author), The Book of Mormon (compiled by Joseph Smith from writings he alone discovered), or the Vedas (written by an undetermined number of authors).
And unlike other religious texts, the Bible is embraced and studied by faiths across the world, including Jews, Christians and Muslims. It is by far the best-selling book of all time, with no close second. It’s been translated into over 2,200 languages, and 168,000 Bibles are sold or given away each day in the United States. Eighty-five percent of American households own a Bible, and 69 percent of Americans believe the Bible provides guidance for how to live a meaningful life.
So what is it about the Bible that has caused it to be so widely known and read across the ages? It contains God’s story, a message of comfort and hope to people.
The Bible is not a book; it’s the book. – A.J. Jacobs
Best-selling author and Esquire columnist A.J. Jacobs once wrote, “The Bible is not a book; it’s the book.” No other book has influenced literature, art, poetry, philosophy, education, philanthropy and modern medicine to the extent the Bible has.
But what really makes this unique book the greatest book? The greatness of the Bible is epic and magnificent, yet personal and intimate at the same time. It continually details throughout its pages how God is in pursuit of the heart of the human race.
The Bible is one epic story, made up of hundreds of individual stories, culminating with God sending His Son to live among us. His Son, Jesus, walked the dusty roads, ate meals with sinners and saints, was compassionate to those crippled and impoverished, and loved humankind so much that He gave everything — even His life — for us. The Bible is not just a book that we read and put aside. It’s a book that personally and consistently invites us to be a part of God’s great story.
The many different stories found in the Bible, from the extraordinary to the ordinary, demonstrate God’s pursuit of the heart of the human race. It was true for those who personally encountered Jesus, and it is true for all of us today. Pick up the greatest book and see that God is pursuing you with astonishing passion.