The highest selling book of all time…
Each year in the month of October, on the last Sunday of the Trinity season before we start counting down to Advent, churches the length and breadth of the country celebrate the Bible on what has become traditionally known as, ‘Bible Sunday’ – this year it’s Sunday 29 October.
Written over a 1600 year period from 1500 BC to AD 100, by approximately 40 different writers, the Bible is the highest selling book of all time. The Bible Society’s attempt to calculate the number printed between 1816 and 1975 produced a figure of almost 2½ billion, although another survey for the years up to 1992 put it closer then to 6 billion. It has also been widely translated, into more than 2,500 languages to date.
Even in these increasingly secular days, it always amazes me how frequently I hear people quoting scripture – often without realising it. Of course, it’s very easy to take a passage out of context or worse, as with the frequently quoted, “Money is the root of all evil”, to not even get it right!
I recently read a story telling that the famous American car producer, Henry Ford, once made a visit to Ireland and, while in the fair city of Dublin, felt moved to give a donation of £1,000 to the building of a new hospital there. According to legend, quite intentionally, The Dublin Times accidentally reported that he had promised £10,000, and enthusiastically praised his marvellous generosity. The newspaper, once informed that the figure was wrong, quickly pointed out that it wouldn’t make Ford appear very altruistic if a correction had to be printed publicly. Surprisingly, Henry Ford agreed to donate the larger amount – on one condition. When the new hospital was complete, it was to have a highly visible plaque in the entrance hall with an appropriate Biblical text conspicuously displayed.
…And the text he chose was Matthew chapter 25 verse 35: “I was a stranger and you took me in”! I don’t know if the story is true, but I’d like to think it was – in which case Henry Ford wasn’t just a great philanthropist, but also had a pretty good sense of humour!
The Bible is such a wonderful gift to us – the record of God’s revelation of Himself to His creation over the centuries, culminating in the incarnation of the Word, Jesus Christ, in our midst. Perhaps this month is a good time to dip back into this living word – a magnificent book of songs, poetry, wisdom, history, passionate letters, prophecy and revelation. Why not start with a gospel account to remind yourself, before we get to Advent, what this ‘gospel’ or ‘good news’ is really all about?
Priest in Charge Loves church pioneering, family, guitars, Macs, jeeps and Jesus, not necessarily in that order...