rob bell takes to tumblr to ask, “what is the bible?”

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Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

rob bell

rob bell takes to tumblr to ask, “what is the bible?”

if you’ve followed or simply stumbled upon rob bell’s tumblr, you’d find that it’s full of recommendations, ranging from music to books to organizations. nothing too earth-shattering or deeply insightful.

but yesterday, fresh off his interview with oprah, bell unexpectedly took to his tumblr to share some lengthy (though this is just part 1) thoughts on a topic thousands of years old: the bible.

he begins part 1, someone wrote something, with,

I’ve had a number of conversations recently that somehow led to the Bible. I say somehow because these weren’t conversations with particularly religious friends, and yet what they talked about was their interest in the Bible.

so apparently, this was simply bell putting out some thoughts that have been stirring in his mind, sparked by recent conversations. and as usual, the thoughts stirring around in bell’s brain are worth reading.

the primary thesis of part 1 is that the key to beginning to understand the bible is to understand and acknowledge that the bible was written by

Real people,
writing in real places,
at real times,
with agendas,
choosing to include some material,
choosing to leave out other material,
all because they had stories to tell.

when i was in seminary, the first time i really had an ‘aha’ moment with scripture was when i began to understand the humanity of scriptures—not merely the divine. when i understood a writers’ context and background and intent (particularly tied to literary genre), so much of scripture made sense. and because of that, i was able to more fully glean what was trying to be communicated about god. bell posits, “whatever divine you find in it, you find that divine through the human, not around it.” he goes further:

If you let go of the divine nature of the Bible on the front end and immerse yourself in the humanity of it, you find the divine in unexpected ways, ways that can actually transform your heart. Which is the point, right?

he concludes part 1 with some critical questions for beginning to understand scripture. he says rather than asking the typical, Why did God say this?, we should begin with the following 5 questions:

Why did people find it important to tell this story?
What was it that moved them to record these words?
What was happening in the world at that time?
What does this passage/story/poem/verse/book tell us about how people understood who they were and who God is at that time?
What’s the story that’s unfolding here and why did these people think it was the story worth telling?

today, we should be getting part 2, the flood. should be good.