Monday, March 24, 2008


The Book: THE JERUSALEM BIBLE: Reader's Edition. Alexander Jones, general editor. Doubleday & Co., 1968. Leather binding is scuffed at spine, pages are slightly age-darkened. Inscribed to the owner from her Aunt Patricia on front fly-leaf; owner's signature and previous address on second blank page.
First read: 1983
Owned since: 1982

Protestants often criticize Catholics for not reading the Bible, and it's true that I hadn't read much of it when I got this book as a high school graduation present. It was my textbook in an Introduction to Biblical Literature class in my sophomore year, and I read most of it then.

The Bible, Old Testament and New, is the history of the covenants between God and humans. It begins with the creation, and continues through a series of tests and trials, misunderstandings, betrayals, and redemption. The underlying message is that God has promised much to us, and that these promises will be kept.

My brother Ed called Easter the defining date of the Western calendar on his blog the other day, and I think that's right. Catholics frown on "Bible dipping" as superstition and fortunetelling, but I just let this book fall open, and my finger landed on Isaiah 54:
I did forsake you for a brief moment,
but with great love will I take you back.
In excess of anger, for a moment,
I hid my face from you.
But with everlasting love I have taken pity on you,
says Yahweh, your redeemer.

I wonder, though, how many people who boast about reading the Bible understand that God means it. Jesus did, too. Let's take, for example, Matthew 7:1-3: "Do not judge, and you will not be judged; because the judgements you give are the judgements you will get, and the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given. Why do you observe the splinter in your brother's eye and never notice the plank in your own?" Or Luke 12:33: "Sell your possessions and give alms. Get yourselves purses that do not wear out, treasure that will not fail you, in heaven where no thief can reach it and no moth destroy it."

How much different would our world be if we actually believed that God loved us, and that God loved that dreadful woman in the supermarket checkout line just as much?

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