The Myth of “The Bible”
If I had a dollar for every time I read or heard “the word of God says,” I probably could retire by now. Of course, whenever they referred to the phrase “The word of God,” they meant “the Bible.” In this short article, I’m going to try to kill two birds with one stone. Let’s first deal with the phrase “the word of God.”
Before I begin, however, let me make something as clear as I can. I know that many people who will read this article will NOT actually get in their heart what I am putting on paper. Their minds and the traditions they are filled with, will twist these words totally out of recognition. I know this will happen. I can’t do anything about it. To try to help prevent this from happening to some individuals, I want to state something as clearly as I can right at the outset. I believe the Christian Scriptures, the 66 books commonly, but incorrectly called the Bible, are the most valuable writings in the world. They contain the gospel of Jesus Christ. They contain wisdom one will not find in any other book in the world. I have over a hundred versions of those Scriptures in my library. I spend endless hours combing through various translations for my own spiritual benefit and for the benefit of others. Having said that, and having studied the Scriptures, I want to help break a tradition, a habit (a bad one I might add) that will seem almost like heresy at first, but will be most valuable in helping individuals come to the True Word of God, Jesus Christ. Ok, let’s begin.
“And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.” (Rev. 19:13, KJV)
“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.” (Pro. 30:5, KJV)
“And it came to pass the same night, that the word of God came to Nathan, saying,” (1 Chron. 17:3)
“But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying,” (1 Kings 12:22, KJV)
“And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, (and he passed on,) but stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God.” (1 Sam. 9:27, KJV)
“But the word of God grew and multiplied.” (Acts 12:24, KJV)
“Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'" (Matt. 15:6-9, NIV)
Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.” (Acts 13:7, KJV)
“And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” (Luke 4:4, KJV) (Note: Most other leading selling Versions, NIV, NASB, NRSV, etc. do not contain the phrase “but by every word of God.” They feel those words were not in the original text but were added in later manuscripts.
“I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” (1 John 2:12, KJV)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.” (John 1:1-15, KJV)
From all of the above scriptural references, it should be plain to all, that the “word of God,” is not a book consisting of 66 books (most Protestant denominations) or 80 books (Roman Catholic) or even more (Greek and Russian Orthodox). The word of God is the very words of God Himself by His anointing or the anointed One, Jesus the Messiah or Jesus the Anointed One, the One Whose words were full of the Holy Spirit. When He spoke, He spoke the very words of God because everything He spoke was spoken as the very Oracle of the Father.
“Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” (John 8:28, KJV)
A person can speak the very same words Jesus spoke as recorded in the Scriptures and it may NOT be the word of God because it does not have the anointing, the Spirit with it. The true word of God must be spoken WHEN God wants it spoken and under His direction. Anything outside that is NOT the true “word of God.”
Now that we have settled once and for all Who the “word of God is, let’s take a look at another sacred cow of traditionalists which make the true word of God of no effect in their lives – the term, “The Bible.”
What Is “The Bible?”
Actually “The Bible” is a non-existent thing. Unicorns are mentioned in the King James Bible but they don’t really exist. The King James translators thought they existed. And because their knowledge of Hebrew in the seventeenth century was poor, the mistranslated the Hebrew word “reh-ame” (Strong’s number 7214) unicorn when in fact the word described an animal which the English translators were unfamiliar with. The animal, nevertheless, was NOT a single horned creature. Satyrs are mentioned in the “Authorized Version” as well for the very same reason – the translators believed in them. Because they didn’t know exactly what the Hebrew word “sa ir” (Strong’s number 8163) meant, they used a word for an ancient mythological character that never did nor does exist. There has been a LOT of false propaganda in the church world regarding the skill of Bible translators, especially during the reformation period. The following description of a sword wound of the seventeenth century, a cure which King James himself swore by, will reveal for us the level of skill in the academic world of this period of time in England:
"Take of moss growing on the head of a thief who has been hanged and left in the air; of real mummy; of human blood; still warm--of each one ounce; of human suet two ounces; of linseed oil, turpentine, and Armenian bole--of each, two drachms. Mix all well in a mortar, and keep the salve in an oblong, narrow urn." With this salve the weapon, after being dipped in the blood from the wound, was to be carefully anointed, and then laid by a cool place. In the meantime, the wound was to be duly washed with fair clean water, covered with a clean, soft, linen rag, and opened once a day to cleanse of purulent of other matter. (Ref: "Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" by Charles Mackay, L.L.D Vol. 1 Second Edition, 1852, page 307)
So much for the level of medicine, science and ancient languages in King James' England. The foremost Hebrew scholar in England during this period of time, Hugh Broughton said “he would rather be torn in pieces by wild horses than that this abominable translation (KJV) should ever be foisted upon the English people.” Perhaps those are only the words of a jealous theologian. Then again, perhaps they are the accurate words of one who should have known.
Nevertheless, “the Bible,” the way the term is used among Christians is as non-existent as the unicorn was to King James and his scholars. They believed in them even though they never saw one. So too, “THE Bible.” When one says, “the Bible says,” what they are REALLY saying is, “My translation of certain Greek and Hebrew texts says…” You see, the King James Version of “the Bible” contains the phrase “the word of God” in Luke 4:4 while the NIV, NASB, NRSV, etc do not. Why? Well, the translators of the King James Version used a Greek text that was different from the Greek text used by the translators of those other translations.
Most Christians are unaware of the fact that of the 6,000 or so Greek manuscripts we have of the Greek New Testament hardly a single one agrees with another. Each have slight differences. Some have major differences. When someone or a committee decide to embark upon making a translation of the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts which they believe are the sacred scriptures of the Christian faith, they must first decide on which manuscripts to use. This is a very difficult process of which few Christians are aware. The translator must make many decisions regarding how much weight should be given to various things like the new information gained from the Dead Sea Scrolls, the differences between the Greek Septuagint and the Masoretic Hebrew text, which family of Greek texts to follow, new information about the manners and customs of the Biblical period gained from various sciences like archaeology, copies of versions in other ancient languages, the writings of the early church fathers, etc. But setting all this aside, after a person or team brings forth a translation of whatever Hebrew and Greek texts they select as the best and most accurate, all they will have for their efforts when complete is another version of certain Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. They will NOT have created or invented “The Bible.” They will have created their version, their translation, their interpretation of a select group of manuscripts. They will have had copies of copies of copies of copies of the original autographs. None of the original autographs exist. (For your information, an “autograph” is the original work. A manuscript is a hand-written copy written prior to the printing press. Most of the manuscripts of the Greek New Testament are of late date, that is, after 1,000 A.D.)
A little history of how the term “the Bible” came into being might be of interest to the reader. From Smith’s Bible Dictionary we find:
“The Bible, i.e. ‘the Book, from the Greek ‘ta biblia,’ the books. The word is derived from the root designating the inner bark of the linden tree, on which the ancients wrote their books. It is THE book as being superior to all other books. But the application of the word BIBLE to the collected books of the Old and New Testaments is not to be traced farther back then the fifth century of our era.”
From the “Science of word histories” on the internet we find:
“The earliest books were actually rolls of papyrus, a writing material that was made from the pith of the papyrus plant and used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. The Greek word for papyrus was biblos or byblos, which they derived from the name of the Phoenician city byblos [now Jubayl, Lebanon] from which is derived the word bible.”
Seems Dr. William Smith was a bit off regarding the “linden tree.” This is not surprising considering that Biblical scholarship in the nineteenth century was not as up to snuff as we are taught in Sunday School. It was not until the late nineteenth century that A. Deissmann’s discovery of letters, bills and receipts in Egypt written in koine Greek in the first century demonstrated that koine was the language of the common people and not some special or formal or divine language reserved only for “God’s word” as many theologians and bible scholars up to that time thought and taught.
The term “the Bible,” then is a misnomer. Correctly, when one wants to quote their favorite version of scriptures sacred to Christianity, they should say, “The New International Version of the Christian Scriptures,” or “The King James Version of the Christian Scriptures.” And remember some sects of Christianity have more books they consider sacred than others.
Why am I writing about this? Am I just playing with semantics? Am I just stirring up trouble for the sake of making dust? Not at all! I think it is VITAL we begin to clean up our speaking AND our thinking!
Jesus said, quoting the New King James Version:
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you THINK you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” (John 5:39, NKJV)
Friends, there are multitudes of Christians and pastors who say, “The Bible says,” or “The word of God says,” and they have never met Him or know Him. The true “word of God” MUST have the Holy Spirit upon it for it to truly be the “word of God.”
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18, NKJV)
“…when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16:13, NKJV)
“These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. (1 John 2:26, 27, NKJV)
The true word of God comes via Jesus’ Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, the Anointing. Jesus is the “Christ,” that is, the Anointed One -- the One with the fullness of God’s Spirit. The true word of God is anointed with God’s Spirit. The Spirit and Truth bear witness to each other.
We should always remember that is it NOT those who have their favorite translation memorized who are the sons of God, but those who are led by His Spirit.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14, NKJV)
I say all this to say that Satan is perfectly able and more than willing to quote scriptures. And most of the time he’ll quote them through another Christian, perhaps even your own church leader. He used them to try to trip up Jesus during His tribulation period. Memorizing verses from your favorite translation is NOT putting the true word of God inside you. Quoting one’s favorite wrath-filled verse against someone you don’t like is NOT obeying God unless He clearly directs you to do so via the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit!
So the next time, because of habit, you want to say, “the word of God says, or “the Bible says,” bite your tongue til it hurts. The odds are very great that God never wanted to say a word of it in the first place!