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Why Christians should study the Bible

From His Holiness
Pope Pius XII

Holy Father Urges the Study of Sacred Scriptures

Why Catholics [and other Christians, too] should read and study God's Word

A brief presentation of the essence of the encyclical:
divino afflante spiritu

With all our energy we ought to lead back all men to Our most merciful Redeemer. He is the divine Consoler of the afflicted. To rulers and subjects alike He teaches lessons of true holiness, unimpeachable justice and generous charity. He alone can be the stable foundation and support of peace and tranquillity. 'For other foundation no man can lay but that which is laid: which is Christ Jesus.'

Of this Author of salvation, who is Christ, men will enjoy fuller knowledge. They will conceive a more ardent love for Him. They will imitate with greater fidelity the examples He has given. They will apply themselves more devoutly to know and to meditate on the Sacred Scriptures and particularly the New Testament, for, as St. Jerome says:

'To ignore the Scriptures is to ignore Christ.... If there is anything which sustains the wise man in times of strife and amid disasters and upheavals in the world, it is, in the first place, I consider, meditation on the Scriptures and knowledge of them.'

From the Scriptures, he who is assailed and oppressed by adversity and misfortune will draw comfort and superhuman strength to suffer and to endure with patience. In them, in the Holy Gospels, Christ is held up before all mankind as the Supreme and Perfect Model of justice, charity, and mercy. In them, for the benefit of humanity in its anguish and terror, there are opened fountains of divine grace which nations and their rulers may not neglect or disregard without loss of the power to aim at or to consolidate national tranquillity or a national unity of thought. Finally, in them all men will learn to know Christ who is the head of all principality and power and who of God is made unto us wisdom and justice and sanctification and redemption.

Historically, the Holy Father's official titles are: Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, and .... Sovereign of the State of Vatican City.

Evangelical Scholar sings praises of the Vulgate

The lustre of our country : our religious freedoms

All Creatures of Our God and King (Saint Francis)

Lux Benigna: Lead Kindly Light (Cardinal Newman)

Jacques Maritain rebukes `Christian` Anti-Semitism

Strong Catholic influence on the King James Bible

Mother Teresa

Saint George

put children first

Fulton Oursler, in one of his books on the Bible declares that his hope "to give some foretaste of the water of life that rises from that deep well of Truth that is the Book of Books."

Oursler quotes some of our great statesmen on the crucial role of the Bible. George Washington: "It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible."

John Adams called the Bible "the best book in the world." Lincoln said, "Take all of this book upon reason that you can and the balance by faith and you will live and die a better man."

In our century of disillusion Woodrow Wilson declared: "The Bible is the Word of Life: I beg that you will read it and find out for yourself." And Theodore Roosevelt added : "Almost every man who has by his life-work added to the sum of human achievement of which the race is proud, almost every such man has based his life-work largely upon the teachings of the Bible."

Fulton Oursler, Preface to Behold This Dreamer

From Bob Shepherd:

Half a millenium ago (and then some) Johannes Gutenberg began printing with movable type. The invention was ground-breaking and nothing less than transformative. Previously, writings that were wished to be preserved had to be painstakingly copied and recopied by hand, generation after generation, and each generation had to share the appreciation of previous ones, and share the value placed on the writings - to even bother with the arduous handiwork of reproducing these manuscripts.

Gutenberg's invention changed all that. The first major book off his press was, of course, the Bible. The Vulgate of Jerome. Since that time billions upon billions of books on every subject imaginable have been printed. The Bible, however, is by far the most exceptional of all of them.

Our word Bible comes from the Greek word Biblion (biblion ) or "book." An interesting and improbable fact of history is that the Jews, without trying, becme by far the most successful proselytizers of all time, and this they accomplished "without proselytizing!" Christianity, in all its present manifestations, is derived from the books inherited from ancient Israel and Hellenistic Judaism. Islam also, in its contemporary manifestations, is likewise derived from the earlier beliefs and writings and practices of Christianity and Judaism. Moreover, in addition to these two great World Religions, numerous breakaway groups are in turn (indirectly) attributable to aboriginal Jewish roots. (Including Druse and Bahai, and Christian derived groups like Mormons and gnostics and Cathars, and a variety of New Age or "old heresy" churches or religions.) Even the Sikhs of India evolved in some sense from the Mogul period of Islamic influence.


Always an endangered species -- the Jews
Even more astounding is this improbability of Jewish influence when one considers how tiny the community of Jews has been through history, forever hovering on the brink of extinction, either through assimilation or genocide. I do not believe that at any time in history, Jewish population ever exceeded a tiny fraction of a single per cent of world population, yet the offspring adherents of Jewish influenced or Jewish derived religions numbers in the hundreds of millions, easily on par with the Asian (world religions) Buddhism and Hinduism.

So prevalent has been the influence of the Bible in the West, that in our culture that a cliche has arisen that goes "Where's it written?" This reliance upon the written word as a benchmark of authority goes back deep into Jewish past.

According to Awake! magazine, it is estimated that more than 4.7 billion Bibles (in whole or in part) have been printed. That is more than five times the number of the next most widely distributed publication. Quotations from Chairman Mao.

More than 50 million copies of the Bible or portions of it were distributed recently in one year alone. A report in The New Yorker magazine says: "The Bible is the best selling book of the year, every year."

In whole or in part, the Bible has been translated into more than 2,400 languages. At least some of the Bible is available in languages spoken by over 90% of the human family

The same article in Awake! (November 2007) takes note of the fact that about half of the Bible writers finished their writings before the birth of both Confucius, the renowned Chinese sage, and Sidhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. Estimated world Buddhist population (all branches) is some four hundred million, while estimated Hindu population (all branches) is around eight hundred million.

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Bob Shepherd
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