The Unreal Bible.
“The Bible, and the reading of the Bible as an instrument of instruction, may be said to have been begun on the sunrise of that day when Ezra unrolled the parchment scroll of the Law. It was a new thought that the Divine Will could be communicated by a dead literature as well as by a living voice. In the impassioned welcome with which this thought was received lay the germs of all the good and evil which were afterwards to be developed out of it: on the one side, the possibility of appeal in each successive age to the primitive, undying document that should rectify the fluctuations of false tradition and fleeting opinion; on the other hand, the temptation to pay to the letter of the sacred book a worship as idolatrous and as profoundly opposed to its spirit as once had been the veneration paid to the sacred trees or the sacred stones of the consecrated groves or hills.”
Dean Stanley: “History of the Jewish Church,” iii. 158.
The Unreal Bible
“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty concerning the things which thou wast taught by word of mouth.”—Luke i. 1-4.
This day, in our Church year, calls us to think upon the influence of the Bible on the advance of man into the Kingdom of God.
Since the growth of written language great books have been the well-springs of thought and feeling for mankind, from which successive generations have drawn the water of life. Since the introduction of the printing-press books have been, beyond all other agencies, the educators of men. And of all books of which we have any knowledge, those together constituting the Bible form incomparably the most potent factors in the moral and religious progress of the western world; and as all other progress is fed from moral and religious forces, I may add, in the general advance of Christian civilization.
From these books the lisping lips of children have learned the tales of beautiful goodness which have nourished all noble aspirations. Over these charming stories of Hebrew heroism and holiness the imagination has caught sight of the infinite mysteries amid which we walk on earth. Their touch has quickened conscience into life. Through their voices the whispers of the Eternal Power have thrilled the soul of youth, and men have learned to worship, trust, and love the Father-God. These books have preserved for us the story of the Life which earth could least afford