Someone once asked this thought provoking question: “What is the meaning of the Bible?” Other authors have attempted to answer this question as it is asked by people in general, but this is the first guide designed to respond to this person’s question specifically.
Before answering what the meaning of the Bible is, we must, of course, first ask: “What is the Bible?” A growing number of scholars now agree that the Bible is in fact a book. A book, according to recent studies is a stack of pages inside a covering made of actual leather, bonded leather, pleather, vinyl, thick cardboard covered with fabric, or maybe just sort of covered withÂ more paper, with the pages being attached to the covering. Please pardon the jargon-riddled answer to this question–it is difficult to put this in layperson’s terms.
You might ask: “What is paper?” and you would be right to ask it. Anyone familiar with the literature on this topic knows that paper has been demonstrated by numerous studies to be a thin, white substance similar to what you would be holding in your hand if you printed this post. Bibles are made with a wide variety of papers. Many people like thinly sliced onion skin paper inside as their Bible pages, but this is wholly a matter of taste, although most paper tastes the same, according to the scholarly consensus viewpoint.
And now for the next obligatory question: “What are pages?” Well they are pieces of paper that are placed into a book in a numerical order that matches the numbers at the bottom of each piece of paper. Now close your eyes and imagine something that looks like this thing you’ve printed and are now holding in your hands–that’s a page. With your eyes still closed imagine that these very same pages in the Bible have black stuff on them–open your eyes–kind of like what you are reading. This is called ink, which is formed into letters which are kind of piled together to make words, like the ones you just read/are still reading. Again, I regret having to be so technical, but once you understand this, it gets a lot easier from here.
OK, now we’re getting somewhere, taking it to the next level. Consider this statement: The Bible is a book full of smaller books. Kind of like those Russian dolls that stack inside of each other, except not really–I mean, you don’t ordinarily stack books inside of a Bible, but it should be noted that scholars have found nothing in the Bible that says you are not permitted to do this.
Finally, you might think the way to answer the question “What Does the Bible Mean?” would be to actually read the Bible, but you would be wrong. New techniques of interpreting the Bible suggest that the Bible doesn’t mean what it says. In fact this is the most important discovery of Bible scholarship in the last 100 years. Several in-depth studies have exhaustively demonstrated that in fact the Bible means not what the people who wrote it actually said, but what people–in this case, scholars–say that they said.Â In future posts we’ll examine some of these techniques.
 Some of you may know that Ronan and I talked about co-authoring a book together on the Bible a while back. This is not the introduction to that book–don’t worry, it will be a lot more basic than this.