Last week on “Jeopardy” the final “answer” was “He tells his Son not to worry about the lamb for the burnt offering. God will provide it.” The brainy contestants wrote Joseph, Job, and Jonah. None of them recognized one of the most famous stories in the Bible: Abraham and his willing sacrifice of his son Isaac. Abraham is the great spiritual forefather of Christians, Jews, and Muslims. I’m afraid we are plagued with biblical illiteracy and it seems to be spreading more and more. Although this God-authored book is the world’s bestseller, many people are not opening it.
In my book Praying with Scripture, the introduction offers reasons to be familiar with the Bible. I’m reproducing it here:
The English writer G. K. Chesterton was once asked if he were shipwrecked on a desert island, what book he would want with him. He answered, “Thomas’s Guide to Practical Shipbuilding.” Most Christians would have expected him to respond, “The Bible.” There are many good reasons for this.
As we struggle to cope with the mysteries in our lives and in the mindboggling universe, we yearn to encounter God. Who doesn’t long to touch the One who created us and is the origin of everything? The Bible allows us to meet our God because he is present in it. God lives and breathes in the Bible and also acts through it. What’s more, God has chosen to communicate with us in Scripture—if we give God a chance. That is why we speak of the Holy Bible and Sacred Scripture.
Scripture is for those who are looking for some way to strengthen and enrich their relationship with God. It is for those who want to add depth and breadth to their prayer and to their daily lives. The Bible is also for those who wish to cultivate relationships with other believers. For the Bible is the book of the Church, the community of faith, and is best understood in the context of this community, specifically a group of people who reflect on it together.
Moreover, the Bible, a divine GPS, is for those searching for a guide on life’s journey. “Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
The Bible is also like a mirror reflecting humanity as well as ourselves, our glory and our weakness. It reveals our origin, our identity, and our destiny. In essence, the Bible is for those longing for meaning and joy in their lives.
God, who gave us Scripture, knows it offers all of these benefits. In our challenging age, the Spirit is moving to draw people to the Bible. Individuals are reading it on their own, taking courses on it, and gathering together for Bible studies. A repairman who came to my house asked where he could get a good version of the Bible. A young woman who checked my bags at airport security informed me that she had recently purchased a Bible and was delighted with it. The surge of interest in God’s Word is further evidenced by the increasing number of books about it, including this one.
St. Jerome taught, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” By setting aside time to read, ponder, and pray the Bible, may you grow closer to Jesus, who is the Incarnate Word of God.
In addition, being knowledgeable about the Bible is expected of an educated person–especially if you aspire to be a contestant on “Jeopardy”!
I’ve written a good number of books about Scripture. If you are interested in any of them, they can be purchased from the publisher or Amazon and preferably from me (email@example.com).
Praying with Scripture: The Bible, You’ve Got Mail (Amazon)
The Catholic Companion to the Psalms (ACTA Publications)
The Bible for Young People, Old Testament and The Bible for Young People, New Testament Both have colored pictures. (Amazon)
The Catholic Children’s Bible. The whole Bible for little children. (St. Mary’s Press)
Gospel Plays for Students and Acting Out the Miracles and Parables and Leading Students into Scripture (originally from XXIII Publications, now from me)
A Child’s Bible, A Child’s Book of Parables, A Child’s Book of Miracles. Three booklets (Loyola Press)
The Bible: God’s Great Love Story. An activity book. (Paulist Press)
Prayer Moments for Every Day of the Year. One-line prayers mostly taken from the Bible. (Paulist Press)
• What is your favorite Bible story? Who is your favorite Bible person (other than Jesus)?