The Bible is the Word of God, but even on a human level it stands apart. No other book has sold so many copies, been translated into so many languages, been so often adapted, recited, and performed, or took so many years (centuries!) to write.
In 101 Surprising Facts About the Bible, Rick Rotondi recounts the story of how the Bible was written, translated, published, and proclaimed. I liked this book so much that I wanted to share some of the facts which even I was unaware.
The Bible is an “epic“
The epic is one of the earliest literary forms, a long poem that recounts the deeds and heroes of a nation. The Iliad is an epic of Greece; the Aeneid of Rome.
Within the Bible, the accounts of the Exodus and the life of David can be considered epics. More broadly, the Bible as a whole can be considered an epic. It’s the story of Israel, the People of God—a nation and also a spiritual community into which every person ever created is invited. It covers a period stretching from the beginning of creation until the end of time. No other literary epic has the scope and sweep of the Bible.
Surviving Gutenberg Bibles have an estimated value of $25–$35 million, each
The world record for the most expensive book is the Bay Psalm Book, which sold at auction in 2013 for over $14 million. Impressive, yet it’s a record that would surely tumble were any of the complete Gutenberg Bibles held in collections today to be sold. Each of the twenty-one known remaining copies has an estimated value of $25–$35 million.
The Bible took over one thousand years to write
J. R. R. Tolkien is famous for taking some seventeen years to complete the Lord of the Rings. That’s nothing compared to the Bible, which took over one thousand years to write.
Dating the Bible is notoriously complex. We can say this: the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch or Torah, have their origin in Moses, who led the Israelites during their Exodus from Egypt sometime between 1450 B.C. and 1250 B.C. It took centuries of editing for the Pentateuch to reach its final form, and during and after this time other books of the Bible were composed. The last book of the Bible, Revelation, was written by the aged apostle John around A.D. 95.
Jesus has a sense of humor
The humor found in the Old Testament is present in the teaching of Jesus. Consider the incongruous images in the parables: a wildflower dressed more splendidly than Solomon (Matt. 6:28–29), a hectoring widow more powerful than a judge (Luke 18:1–5); a father so incompetent as to give his child a stone when he asks for bread (Matt. 7:9). The mental picture of a camel wriggling through the eye of a needle (Matt. 19:24), or a man remarking on the speck in his neighbor’s eye while oblivious to the beam in his own (Matt. 7:3), are jarring and funny. The crowds who followed Jesus surely laughed at these examples in his preaching.
You can receive a plenary indulgence for reading the Bible
The Church awards indulgences, which are remissions of the temporal penalties due to sin, to encourage spiritual practices. Read the Bible in a prayerful way for a half hour or more, and you will receive a full or plenary indulgence. The usual conditions (Communion, recent confession, prayers for the pope, and detachment from sin) apply.
The events of the Bible took place on three continents
Most of the events in the Bible took place in the Holy Land, modern-day Israel and Palestine. But, few realize that the events of the entire Bible take place in Europe (Rome, with Paul), Asia (Possibly modern-day Turkey), and Africa (parts of ancient Egypt).
Over forty authors wrote the entire Bible
Took many to list here, but the list includes all of the, likely, six Net Testament authors, and dozens of Old Testament authors. Solomon, Moses, the prophets (and scribes), and the countless unknown authors of books like Job, Judges, and others. Astounding!
As the title of the book suggests, there are over 100 facts about the Bible that most people are unaware. In 101 Surprising Facts About the Bible, by Rick Rotondi, readers will be amazed by the level of effort undertaken to write the Scriptures, hidden nuances, subtle facts that readers rarely consider, and more. This is an excellent resource, and a short read for anyone wanting additional inspiration and appreciation for God’s Word. Oh, it makes a great gift, too!