The Bible

[This post is a part of the Letters to an Adopted Child series. Read the series preface here.]

The Bible is a book of books, which is to say that this one book contains multitudes. Within its covers you will find great literary variety, both origin story and apocalypse, both national history and intimate letters, both accounting and poetry. This book is not limited to one race, one country, or even one language. Having been written over the course of hundreds, or possibly thousands, of years, this book we have on our shelf is the most multicultural work ever created. The Bible is the pinnacle of world literature. It causes the West to look East and the East to look West. It prompts the past to join the future and for the future to join the past.

From a external point of view, one is aware of the sheer size of the book. How many pages there are! But the Bible’s most stunning attribute is not its length but its brevity. You have seen my book collection, and you know that many men and women have a particular long-windedness about their writing. Their strength is displayed in their endurance–how they can comment, elaborate, expand, and contemplate over a single topic, all while keeping their writing interesting. It is human nature to say much and to be proud of quantity. To leave no stone unturned.

When we read the Bible, however, we are forced to face the topics which it does not comment on, or the plot points of a story that it does not give. When we are consumed by the things the Bible does not say, we approach the genius of its message, which is that the Bible is a display of great restraint. Consider a neuroscientist speaking with a class of 2nd grade students. Any successful message, one that is spoken and then understood by the audience, would have to be accomplished through an artful, patient restraint. We call this humility, and in this scenario there is a certain self-sacrifice for the neuroscientist to explain something she knows to the class, for she must also hold back all the other things she knows that are important to her.

The Bible, we know, is written by God himself, through the writing of many people across history. Look at my books, look at how much mankind can say about the smallest of things. When we consider that and then look back to the Bible, it no longer looks long but brief. And we marvel at the humility and restraint of God’s Word to us, his children.