Bibliology (Doctrine of the BIBLE) – 1
DOCTRINE OF THE BIBLE
The word “Bibliology” is derived from two Greek words- biblion which means “book: or “roll” and logos which means “word” or “discourse”. Hence, Bibliology means study of the bible. As introduction there are several topics that are in order for learning such as meaning of the word ‘bible’ and ‘scripture’, Origin of the Bible, and Uniqueness of the Bible.
- Meaning of the Bible: The English word Bible is derived from the Greek word Biblion meaning ‘book’ or ‘roll’. It comes from Byblos denoting the papyrus plant that grew in river banks primarily along the Nile River. Writing materials were produced from the papyrus plant by cutting the pith of the plant in one foot strips and setting it in the sun to dry. Eventually, the Christians used the term biblion to refer to all the books of the OT and NT.
- Meaning of the Scriptures: The word ‘scripture’ come from the Greek word graphe, meaning writing. Writing carried great authority in the OT. Even in the NT, it is used in reference to the Bible-the Holy Scriptures.
- Meaning of the Word of God: The Bible is also known as the Word of God. It shows that it is the utterance of the wisdom and very words of God.
Uniqueness of the Bible:
The Bible stands to be unique book because of its several supernatural characteristics. It is beyond comparison with any other book in the world. One would be amazed with the startling characteristics. Let us consider them one by one to increase of faith and trust in the Bible and also be convinced that it stands out as the very Word of God. It is true and entirely reliable and powerful and living and transformative and life giving.
- Indestructibility of the Bible: There are a small percentage of books that survive for century, some for quarter of a century and a very small number live a thousand years and that happens to be the Bible. One would be startled to learn that the Bible survived its test of times and persecution. The Bible has been the object of persecution and man’s hatred has been persistent, determined, relentless, and murderous. Every possible effort had been made to undermine and annihilate the Bible. Notably Diocletian, who by a royal edict in 303 A.D., demanded that every copy of the Bible be destroyed by fire. He even killed so many Christians who possessed the Bible and destroyed so many of them, but to no avail. Despite all efforts of eliminating it, the bible circulation has been tremendous and it is being circulated in 1000 odd languages of the world. The fact that the Bible is indestructible argues strongly that this is the Word of God or Revelation of God.
- Character of the Bible: when the character of the Bible is considered, it comes down to one thing that it is the embodiment of divine revelation. Consider first the content of the bible. The bible recognizes throughout the personality, unity, and trinity of God. It accounts for the creature as a direct creation of God. It represents mans fall as a revolt against the will of God. It teaches the sovereign rule of God in the universe. It sets forth God’s provision of salvation for mankind. It forecasts the development of the world socially, economically, politically, and religiously. It deals with end times and eternal state.
Consider the unity of the bible now. It was written by some forty authors over a period of about 1600 years and yet the Bible is one book. It has one doctrinal system, one moral standard, one plan of salvation, one program of the ages. Its several accounts of the same incidents or teachings are not contradictory, but supplementary.
- Fulfilled prophecy of the Bible: There are several prophecies which have been fulfilled proving to be the unique book of the world. Prophecies concerning Israel’s have been fulfilled minutely. Prophecies concerning Christ have been fulfilled; prophecies concerning Gentile nations have been fulfilled. The bible is not only a book of the past but also of the future.
- Claims of the Bible: The Bible claims to be not only a revelation from God, but an infallible record of that revelation. We have statements in the bible like “And Jehovah spoke unto Moses, saying”. Moses was commanded to write what God told him in a book. The prophets were asked to say, “Jehovah says”. It is claimed that statements like these occur more than 3, 800 times in the Old Testament. Thus the Old Testament claims to be a revelation of God so does the New Testament. (Exodus 14:1; 24:4; 2 Peter 3:2). New Testament writers do claim they declare the message of God. Paul claims that the things he wrote were the commandments of God. John teaches that his testimony was God’s testimony (1 John 5:10).
- Inspiration of the Bible: Inspiration may be defined as the Holy Spirit’s superintending over the writers so that while writing according to their own styles and personalities, the result was God’s Word written-authoritative, trustworthy, and free from error in the original autographs. Inspiration simply means the bible is the product of God, not any human origin. God Himself is the author of it.( 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21)
Inspiration has several facets to it: (1) the divine element- God the Holy Spirit superintended the writers, ensuring the accuracy of the writing; (2) the human element- human authors wrote according to their individual styles and personalities; (3) the result of the divine- human authorship is the recording of God’s truth without error; (4) inspiration extends to the selection of words by the writers; (5) inspiration relates to the original manuscripts.
- Infallibility of the Bible:
Infallibility means incapable of error or mistake. By the term infallible as applied to the Bible, we mean simply that the Scripture possesses an indefectible authority. It can never fail in its judgments and statements. All that it teaches is of unimpeachable, absolute authority, and cannot be contravened, contradicted or gainsaid. Scripture is unfailing, incapable of proving false, erroneous or mistaken. Though heaven and earth should pass away, its words of truth will stand forever. (John 10:35) and Scripture cannot be broken. (Matthew 5:18).
Christianity believes and teaches that the Bible alone is the revealed Word of God. Even though it was written by men, the ultimate author was God Almighty. This claim was not invented by the Church, but is the claim the Bible makes for itself. One reason that the Bible is different from other books is its unity. Although this book was composed by men, its unity reveals the hand of the Almighty. The mere fact that the Bible claims to be the Word of God does not prove that it is such, for there are other books that make similar claims. The difference is that the Scriptures contain convincing evidence as being the Word of God. The Bible is the only religious Scripture in the world that logically can be considered inerrant in the autographs. The Bible is the only religious Scripture that offers eternal salvation as a free gift entirely by God’s grace and mercy. The Bible is the only major ancient religious Scripture whose complete textual preservation is established as virtually autographic. The Bible contains the greatest moral standards than any book.
The great archaeologist, W. F. Albright, concludes, “The Bible towers in content above all earlier religious literature; and it towers just as impressively over all subsequent literature in the direct simplicity of its message and the catholicity of its appeal to men of all lands and times.” Thus, The Bible is special. It is unique. No other book has any such credentials. No other book even comes close. Thank God for the bible through which we can attain objective knowledge of God – His nature, His plan of salvation and plan for the universe and eternity. It is through the bible that God speaks to us and extending invitation to come to him with humility and in faith to receive the eternal salvation which He prepared though His Son-Jesus Christ. Amen.
Rev. B.N. Satpathy
Church of Christ (Union Church), Bhubaneswar